Minimally Invasive Surgery Option for Ankle Injuries

Ankle injuries, like a sprain or fracture, can also cause damage to the cartilage, which is the smooth, flexible tissue at the joint’s edges. Ankle cartilage cushions bones against impact and helps you walk, run and move your foot smoothly. An injury that damages the cartilage can be painful and often requires surgery to help regain ankle function.

At Penn State Health, our team of orthopaedic surgeons will evaluate your ankle injury and pay close attention to the extent of cartilage damage. Ankle cartilage repair is a minimally invasive outpatient surgery or part of a more extensive ankle surgery repair to tendons, ligaments or fractured bones. You will need physical therapy to help regain your ankle flexibility and function following your surgery. More severe defects require open bone and cartilage transplant

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Ankle cartilage repair might be necessary for patients with an ankle injury and the following symptoms:

  • Ankle instability
  • Joint locking
  • Pain, especially when putting weight on the ankle
  • Swelling
  • Weakness

Ankle cartilage repair is for patients who haven’t found pain relief from less-invasive treatment options, such as anti-inflammatory medications, a brace, steroid injections or physical therapy. A Penn State Health orthopaedic surgeon will order a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to get an in-depth look at the cartilage damage and determine if surgery is the right option for your ankle injury.

The most common minimally invasive ankle cartilage repair surgery is the microfracture procedure. The surgeon removes damaged cartilage and drills small holes into the ankle bone to stimulate new cartilage growth. Patients report a high success rate and frequently return to daily activities, like running and sports, within a few months.

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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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