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Ankle replacement surgery

Private joint replacement surgery for chronic ankle pain

Nurse bandaging a patient's foot after ankle replacement surgery
Ankle replacement surgery is a procedure to remove and replace damaged parts of your ankle joint with an artificial replacement, also known as an implant or prosthesis. It is a highly effective treatment for chronic ankle pain and other related problems.

Your ankle (also known as your tibiotalar joint) is a complex joint made up of an intricate network of cartilage, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. It comprises several bones, including your talus (ankle bone), tibia (shin bone), fibula (the thin bone that runs next to your shin bone), and your cuboid (on the outer side of your foot, around halfway between your pinky toe and heel bone).

Ankle joint replacement surgery, also referred to as an ankle implant, is usually performed by an orthopaedic consultant, which is a doctor who specialises in the treatment of bones and joints. At Circle Health Group, we work with orthopaedic consultants who specialise in ankle surgery and are highly skilled and experienced when it comes to ankle replacements.

Joint replacement surgery is typically performed when your pain cannot be controlled by other effective treatment options, such as steroid injection therapy, medication, or physiotherapy. Ankle replacement surgery is a successful way to repair severe damage in your ankle caused either by an injury or by a long-term joint condition. It brings significant relief from distressing symptoms such as chronic pain and stiffness in your ankle.

If you would like to know more about having a private ankle replacement surgery at Circle Health Group, call our advisory team on 0141 300 5009 or book an appointment with one of our dedicated consultants online.

The price of ankle replacement surgery will depend on various factors, including the extent of damage to your ankle joint, the type of surgery you have, and where you have it.

Your healthcare team will ensure you know the cost of your treatment at every stage of your journey with them, including information on how and when to pay it.

Fixed-price packages

Our fixed-price packages include the cost of your surgery and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant's outpatient appointment consultation fee are charged separately.

Spread the cost of your payment

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over 10 months to five years with no deposit required. If you decide to pay over 10 months, you will pay interest-free. If you are paying for a longer period, you will pay 14.9% APR.

Private health insurance

If you have private health insurance, your treatment will usually be covered by your provider. Speak to your insurer directly to find out more information on this.

If you have any questions about our fixed-price packages and flexible payment options, you can speak to a friendly member of our advisory team on 0141 300 5009

The vast majority of ankle replacement operations are performed to treat arthritis, which comes in many forms and is really just an umbrella term for joint problems. Types of arthritis include:

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is caused by an autoimmune process, which happens when your body attacks its healthy cells by mistake. This often causes pain, swelling, and inflammation in your joints. Joints affected by RA are commonly surrounded by inflamed tissue, which results in chronic pain.

Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis occurs when the smooth cartilage (a tough, flexible tissue found throughout your body) across the surface of your joint(s) wears down over time. You'll sometimes hear it referred to as wear and tear arthritis, and it's more common the older you get. The wear and tear can make your joints very painful and stiff and can reduce your mobility.


Bursitis happens when the fluid filled sacs (known as bursa) that cushion and protect your joints become inflamed. This can result in pain and swelling. Bursitis usually presents as a dull, aching pain that can persist even when you take traditional painkillers or try gentle stretching.


Gout is a painful inflammatory condition, but it does not cause widespread inflammation like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Gout is caused by the build-up of uric acid (urate) in your joints. Excess uric acid can cause crystals to form in your joints, resulting in sudden attacks of pain and swelling, which might be accompanied by heat, redness, and tenderness. People most commonly get gout in their big toe(s), but it can occur in other joints, such as your ankles. Gout often flares up in stages, meaning you might have periods when you don't feel its effects, and others when your symptoms are more constant and severe.

Arthritis caused by fractures and dislocations

As mentioned above, arthritis is a long-term condition, which is usually caused by either an autoimmune response or by wear and tear (osteoarthritis) within your bones that occurs over time. This wear and tear can sometimes be caused by a bone fracture or dislocation that doesn't heal properly, which is known as post-traumatic osteoarthritis.

A fracture occurs when there is a break or crack in your bone, and a dislocation when there is a separation of two bones that meet at your joint. You might fracture your ankle by twisting it in an unusual position during a fall, or from a direct blow to your ankle during an accident, such as a rugby tackle.

You can usually see an orthopaedic specialist for your initial consultation within 48 hours of booking your appointment with us.

During this initial appointment, your consultant will ask about your general health and your medical history. They will want to know about any existing medical conditions, as well as the current pain you are experiencing.

In order to assess your symptoms and make an accurate diagnosis of your pain, your consultant will next carry out a gentle physical examination of your ankle. In some cases, they might also send you to get an X-ray, which will be done onsite by one of our radiographers. All of this helps your consultant to make a diagnosis of the cause of your pain.

Once they have identified what's causing your ankle problems, they will share more information about ankle replacement surgery and whether it could be the right treatment for you. This is a safe space for you to ask as many questions as you like about ankle replacement surgery, however big or small.

The time you'll wait between your initial consultation and having replacement surgery (or any other treatment you're recommended) will differ from person to person. We don't have waiting lists, so the process is usually faster than people expect.

Your surgeon will give you a good idea of timelines during your initial consultation, after which they'll put together a fixed-price treatment package based on everything you have discussed together. Once you've agreed to the costs, we can get you booked in to have your surgery at a time that suits you.

There isn't a huge amount you can do to prepare for ankle replacement surgery, but there are some lifestyle chances your orthopaedic surgeon might recommend you try to ensure you are as healthy as possible before surgery.

Weight loss

If you are overweight, your consultant will ask that you lose weight before surgery to minimise the risk of complications happening during surgery, and to help you recover as quickly as possible. They'll give you detailed advice about how to do this safely and healthily, and how to maintain a balanced diet and exercise regime that suits you.

No alcohol

You should avoid drinking alcohol for at least 48 hours before having ankle replacement surgery. Please speak with your consultant about this in more detail.

A healthy diet

Your consultant will discuss the sort of food you should eat before surgery, as well as whether there are any foods you should avoid consuming beforehand. If needed, you can work with a dietician to build a tailored food plan to follow before and after your surgery.

Changes to your medication

Your consultant will also share information on whether you should avoid taking your usual medication before going into hospital, or the kind of medication you might need to take after you have surgery.

Eliminate tripping hazards at home

Remember to eliminate any tripping hazards such as uneven flooring (this could be anything from uneven tiles to loose rugs and carpets) or general mess in your home before surgery. This is to ensure you don't trip and injure your ankle further after surgery.

Before you have surgery, you will be given an anaesthetic. This is usually either a general anaesthetic (which means you'll be asleep for the whole operation) or a spinal anaesthetic (which numbs you from the waist down). If you have a spinal anaesthetic you might also be given a sedative so you're relaxed during your operation.

Your orthopaedic consultant will begin by making an incision (cut) on the front of your ankle to access the joint and remove the damaged parts with specialist tools. They will replace these parts with an artificial component, usually made of metal, plastic, ceramic, or a combination of all three. This is fixed to your bone using a special coating (called cement) that attaches the implant directly to your bone. Next, your consultant will close the incision with dissolvable stitches.

Recovering from ankle replacement surgery

Every individual's recovery timeline looks slightly different. The factors that will affect your personal recovery include:

  • How fit you were before having ankle replacement surgery
  • Your usual everyday activities
  • The nature of your job
  • Your age

You should only be in hospital for one or two days after surgery. You will experience some pain and swelling in your ankle after the procedure, but this is very normal and can be managed with traditional painkillers.

It can take between four and six weeks to recover from ankle replacement surgery. You will have to wear a protective boot or a splint to support your ankle and hold it in place as it heals. You'll have to wear this for around six weeks. You will also have to walk with crutches for a few weeks after surgery. Your physiotherapist will show you how to walk with these and teach you a series of tailored exercises to follow at home as you recover. These will help improve your mobility and strengthen the muscles around your ankle joint.

It is important to keep your leg elevated as much as possible for the first two to four weeks after surgery. This is to reduce swelling and allow your wounds to heal properly. You should avoid high-impact exercise such as sport but can enjoy gentle walks to keep fit and improve mobility in your ankle.

Within six weeks you should be able to return to normal, everyday activities, including work and driving, but speak with your consultant about this in more detail. They will be able to provide a more tailored recovery timeline based on your individual circumstances.

It is important to remember that complications from ankle replacement surgery are rare and that there are risks attached to any surgery, not just this one. Specific complications that can occur during ankle replacement surgery include:

  • Pain in your ankle that persists after surgery
  • Damage to your nerves
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Infection in your ankle
  • Bone forming in the muscles around your ankle replacement
  • Loosening of your joint

We answer some of the most common questions about having your ankle replaced.

How long until you can walk after ankle replacement surgery?

You can get out of bed and begin walking with the use of crutches almost immediately after surgery. You should be able to walk without crutches after around four weeks and wear normal shoes (not a protective boot or splint) after around eight weeks.

When can I drive again after an ankle replacement?

You can usually drive again around six weeks after surgery, but you should speak with your consultant about this. They will understand your personal circumstances better and be able to offer more tailored advice.

When can I play sport again after an ankle replacement?

It can take up to six months to recover fully from ankle replacement surgery. You can be active and carry out normal everyday activities within four weeks but returning to high-impact sport will take longer. Discuss this in more detail with your consultant.

Does an ankle replacement remove the pain?

An ankle replacement can significantly reduce or eliminate pain caused by arthritis and other conditions. It is common to experience some on-going, less severe pain after surgery. This is because arthritis can affect several joints in your foot, and an ankle replacement only replaces one of these.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times to fit your schedule
  • The freedom to choose your hospital and your consultant
  • Bespoke, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard
  • Tasty and nutritious meals cooked onsite to your dietary requirements
  • Support from the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help spread the cost of your care

If you want to know more treatment for ankle replacement surgery with us, call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in December 2022. Next review due December 2025.

  1. Ankle replacement surgery, Johns Hopkins
  2. Ankle replacement, The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  3. Arthritis of the foot and ankle, OrthoInfo
  4. Osteoarthritis of the ankle,

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