Exploratory Surgical Procedure for Ankle Pain

Many people have ankle problems that can significantly impact their daily activities. The constant aching pain can be caused by many issues, from arthritis to ligament tears, scar tissue or cartilage injury. Some patients also have loose bone fragments that can cause the joint to lock up.

If you are experiencing ankle pain, the orthopaedic experts at Penn State Health are here to help. We will find the source of your ankle pain and create a comprehensive treatment plan to get you back on your feet.

Many ankle pain patients undergo an ankle arthroscopy, a noninvasive surgical procedure used as an alternative for a longer “open,” more invasive surgery. An arthroscope – a tiny camera attached to small surgical tools – is inserted into a small incision in the ankle. Your surgical team will be able to see the inside of your ankle, including cartilage, bone, ligaments, tendons and tissue.

Using the arthroscope, your surgeons will remove damaged scar tissue, fix tendon or cartilage tears and remove any floating bone fragments. When the procedure is complete, your ankle incision will be stitched up and covered in a bandage. Ankle arthroscopy is typically an outpatient procedure, meaning our patients go home the same day. Arthroscopy patients experience faster healing time and less pain than with a typical invasive surgery.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Ankle arthroscopy might be recommended for patients experiencing the following ankle problems:

  • Joint “lock”
  • Limited mobility
  • Pain
  • Soreness
  • Swelling
  • Unable to perform daily activities
  • Weakness

Ankle arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that is also a helpful diagnostic tool. By seeing inside the ankle, your surgeon can determine the cause of your symptoms – and in many cases, repair the issue during the procedure. Knowing the cause of your ankle pain will help our team of orthopaedic experts create a comprehensive treatment plan to help you get back to your active lifestyle.

Patients who undergo an ankle arthroscopy typically make a full recovery within a few days to a few weeks, depending on your procedure’s complexity. Some patients require physical therapy to help the ankle fully regain function and flexibility.

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through their commitment to advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.

Coordinated, Specialized Care Through a Dedicated Institute

Our orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. There, they focus on providing you with multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies. This produces the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional niche areas of orthopaedics, including arthritis care and joint arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery).

Designated as a Blue Distinction® Center

Penn State Bone and Joint Institute is a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. This superior designation from BlueCross BlueShield is only given to health care facilities and providers that stand out for their expertise in delivering specialty knee and hip replacement care. Our surgeons specialize in a range of pain-relieving procedures, including partial knee replacement, total joint arthroplasty, joint preservation surgery and complex revision surgery. They perform more than 1,000 joint replacement procedures every year.

Confidence in Treatment Through Education

We developed a special joint replacement education website just for patients undergoing joint arthroplasty. The website takes you step by step through the joint replacement process. From things to consider before choosing surgery to recovery after surgery, you’ll find the information you need to help you feel confident in your decision to undergo joint replacement.

Advancing Orthopaedic Medicine Through Research

The doctors and researchers in our Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing our field through scientific discovery and education. As the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials.

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