Ankle osteoarthritis is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the ankle joint. Traditional treatments like joint fusion can limit mobility. An alternative procedure called ankle distraction arthroplasty has been gaining some traction, but how well does it hold up in the long term? 

A recent study by Greenfield et al. (2019) investigated this very question. They conducted a survival analysis of ankle distraction arthroplasty for ankle osteoarthritis. Their findings suggest that this procedure may be a viable option for some patients. 

Key takeaways from the study: 

  • Ankle distraction arthroplasty showed promising results, with an 84% survival rate at 5 years. This is better than some previously reported outcomes. 
  • The study also identified factors that can influence the success of the procedure. Avascular necrosis of the talus (bone death) was associated with a lower survival rate. Additionally, sex may play a role, with the study suggesting potential gender differences in long-term outcomes. 

What this means for patients: 

Ankle distraction arthroplasty offers a potential option for preserving joint mobility in patients with ankle osteoarthritis. This study provides valuable data for surgeons and patients to consider when making treatment decisions. 

Important to note: 

  • This was a retrospective study, meaning researchers analyzed past data. More robust research designs are needed to confirm these findings. 
  • The study involved a relatively small group of patients. Larger studies are necessary to draw more definitive conclusions. 

Overall, this research suggests that ankle distraction arthroplasty may be a valuable tool for treating ankle osteoarthritis. However, more research is needed to solidify its place as a standard treatment option. 

ReferenceGreenfield, S., Matta, K. M., McCoy, T. H., Rozbruch, S. R., & Fragomen, A. (2019). Ankle distraction arthroplasty for ankle osteoarthritis: a survival analysis. Strategies in trauma and limb reconstruction, 14(2), 65.,and%2037%25%20within%205%20years


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional to discuss your individual treatment options.

“True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.” William Penn

The feet are a very strong, yet delicate mechanism when any area is compromised. People tend to neglect their feet during those instances when all is well, but when problems arise they are the part of the body that you’ll be paying the most attention to. Foot care then, in a preventative format will be critical.

When it comes to your foot care, it is always a good idea to consult with your orthopaedic surgeon. When it comes to foot and ankle biomechanics, the complex nature of your mechanical design is such that where necessary, it will be necessary to get the professional assistance in order to correct any underlying issues. For instance, one of the aspects of your assessment that your specialist will check for will be your gait. There are various factors that can cause your weight distribution and mobility to shift. 

While it might be tempting to self diagnose yourself whenever you have a foot condition, if they do persist, you may consider the possibility of allowing yourself to receive a custom made orthotic. 

When you walk into places like pharmacies, you may find inserts that can alleviate your foot conditions. These are generic, and in some instances may help your feet, but not to their full potential. Depending on your condition, custom made insoles will be critical to your recovery. 

As you traverse local malls, it is often common for you to find sales men in shopping malls that are able to scan your feet using lasers. You can even order moulds online that allow you to create impressions of your feet, and provide you with seeming solutions to your ailing feet. While tempting, it is always best to seek the assistance of a specialist. 

How do I know if I need Orthotics? 

After a series of consultations with your orthopaedic surgeon, you will be thoroughly examined and prescribed orthotics as part of your treatment regimen. In acute situations your orthotics may be prescribed as your primary treatment, but where necessary they will be incorporated into a treatment plan to assist you with overall recovery. 

What exactly do Orthotics treat? 

Orthotics are recommended for conditions where feet aren’t ideally aligned. Individuals with flat feet for instance, are prescribed with orthotics to ensure that their feet alignment and arch development is enhanced. With the additional support added to the feet, the weight distribution of an individual is sustained via the critical cushioning that is provided to the feet. Where possible, orthotics are effective as preventative measures against eventual surgery. Early detection will be critical to facilitate this however, so take the time to ensure that you’re getting your regular check ups.

What type of orthotics can I expect on the market? 

There are different types of orthotics that your orthopaedic surgeon can prescribe for your condition. With a wide variety of materials available for your treatment, your orthotic will be custom made depending on your diagnosis.These treatments include: 

  1. Arch Supports
  2. Insoles 
  3. Heel liners 
  4. Foot cushions 

Medical innovation is an activity that is constantly being optimized. At the time of writing of this article, carbon fiber, plastic and even silicone and cloth bases are utilized as materials for the orthotic. The aim is to ensure that the insole is flexible and cushioning. The design of your orthotic will be such that it may be either a full or partial insert.

What can I expect from my custom made orthotics? 

As a general disclaimer, not all treatments are 100% effective but they do assist in improving the quality of life of the individual who they are prescribed to. There is no universal orthotic that will heal all foot conditions, nor will there be a guarantee that you’ll be immune to downstream surgery. The development of your foot condition is dependent on the root cause of your condition. When it comes to your treatment, a multi fold consideration will have to be factored in. These focus areas will include: 

  • the training and experience of the person making the orthotic
  • the doctor’s prescription
  • the shoe in which a person wears them
  • how often a person wears them

The key to success will be dependent on your situation. Stay positive however, and you’ll be able to identify the orthotic that is well fitted to your feet. With correct insertion, you’ll be able to alleviate your condition. 


As a part of a comprehensive treatment, custom made orthotics can help your feet to heal from a variety of foot and ankle concerns. Consult with your doctor if you feel like custom made orthotics will alleviate your current condition. Your health is your wealth!!

Article Reference: 

  1. Orthotics:
  2. Are Orthotics Worth It?:

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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