Distraction Arthroplasty: A Hopeful Option for Regenerating Arthritic Joints

Arthritis is a painful condition that affects millions worldwide. It can significantly limit your mobility and quality of life. While
traditional treatments like pain medication and physical therapy can offer relief, they don’t address the underlying issue of joint damage. In some cases, surgery may be necessary, but procedures like joint fusion and replacement come with drawbacks like sacrificing natural joint movement.

This is where distraction arthroplasty emerges as a promising alternative. It’s a relatively new and innovative surgical approach that focuses on regenerating rather than replacing arthritic joints.

Here’s what distraction arthroplasty involves:

  • Minimally Invasive: Unlike traditional joint replacements, distraction arthroplasty is considered minimally invasive. During surgery, an external fixator, or “frame,” is attached to your leg around the affected joint. This frame applies gentle, controlled distraction to the joint surfaces.

  • Promoting Healing: The distraction process creates a small gap between the bones, unloading the diseased joint and stimulating your body’s natural healing mechanisms. This allows for the growth of new healthy cartilage tissue within the joint space.

  • Preserving Motion: One of the key benefits of distraction arthroplasty is that it aims to preserve your natural joint motion. This is a significant advantage compared to joint fusion, which eliminates movement altogether.

Who is a candidate for distraction arthroplasty?

This procedure is typically recommended for younger, active individuals with arthritis because of an ankle injury. However, there have been successful studies of older patients using the technique.  It may also be considered for other joints like the knee or wrist. However, it’s important to consult with Dr Slater to determine if you’re a suitable candidate.

Benefits of Distraction Arthroplasty:

  • Promotes joint regeneration

  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Preserves natural joint motion

  • Potential to delay or avoid more invasive procedures like joint fusion or replacement

While distraction arthroplasty offers exciting possibilities, it’s still a developing field. Long-term data is still being collected, and the procedure may not be suitable for everyone. However, it represents a significant advancement in treating arthritis and offers hope for a future with functional, pain-free joints.

If you’re struggling with ankle or joint arthritis, talk to Dr Slater about distraction arthroplasty to see if it might be a viable option for you.

For more information about distraction arthroplasty, read this article by Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/documents/mc2024-1012-pdf/doc-20078938

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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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