Orthopaedic Surgery Post-Operative Pain Management

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. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7376580/#:~:text=In%20a%20significantly%20larger%20series,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.

 Post-Operative Pain Management
Image Credits: Healthline.com

Article Authors: Gordon Slater| Tandose Sambo

For some orthopaedic patients with severe conditions, surgical intervention will be key to correcting underlying ailments. In the orthopaedic field, there are millions of surgeries that are performed annually, on the global scale. With each surgery, there is a need for post-operative care. Termed formally as “acute post-operative pain management” strategies, studies have indicated that the pain levels of orthopaedic surgeries are actually on the higher end of the scale. Up to 86% of orthopaedic patients identify their pain to be on the moderate to extreme scale. 

Post-operative patient care is therefore one of the key contributors to the choice of orthopaedic surgeon. The patient needs to feel assured that they will be in good hands. Since surgery carries with it more than just the physical experience, the patients do experience mental stresses as well that can affect their ability to fully heal once the surgery has concluded. Patients can fear pain to the point where some will actually delay their surgery until the last minute due to their apprehension, it is therefore important to have an appropriate plan in place that will alleviate the sensation when it arises. 

As the field of medicine evolves, post-operative care is becoming a primary area of concern in the orthopaedic field. The key to successfully managing the pain is to have a management plan that will facilitate the healing process. During the process, key personnel such as the orthopaedic surgeon, nurses and anaesthesiologists will be on hand to facilitate the pain plan that will enhance patient healing and recovery at a much faster pace. 

Surgical care has identified the following as ideal optimization points for a patient: 

  1. Optimizing pain control for the individual patient both during and after surgery.
  2. Ensuring safety both during and after surgery.
  3. Minimizing post surgical side effects.
  4. Maintaining ease of use for staff and patients. The majority of pain management actually takes place at home, post surgery , so plans must be in place during the hospital visit to ensure that the patients and their givers are well versed with respect to the care plan.
  5. Reducing complications is critical with time. All medical procedures have risks and it will be important to factor in the criteria such as gender and age before the surgery itself is actually attempted.

Establishing a Good Relationship With your Orthopaedic Surgeon

Your orthopaedic surgeon is there to provide you with a service as you traverse your healing journey. A good relationship with your doctor will ensure that the healing process proceeds much faster. With improved confidence in the doctor, and the prescribed plan, patients can actually anticipate what will happen in a more realistic fashion. Appeasing the fears of the patients will ensure a much smoother recovery. With your surgeon, you will identify your ideal plan, and as a result be in a position to ensure that the patient is not in a state where they are resuming activities prior to the stated healing time. 

Patient and Caregiver Education

Knowledge is always power. Since a team of individuals will be the ones who will be treating the patient, it is a good idea for the patient and their caregivers to get to know the nursing staff at their treatment facility. The team will go through the patient’s medical history, and collectively help with the healing process. In the instance that the doctor is not immediately available, the nursing staff will be the individuals who will be able to facilitate the healing process. They are the ideal individuals to get to know, as the process unfolds. 

Drug Management 

With orthopaedic surgeries ranking high for pain threshold, ensure that you and your doctor carve out a plan for appropriate therapies such as drugs during your healing process. When the surgery is  completed, you may have a series of over the counter drugs such as pain relievers and antibiotics, to take in order to ensure that you are controlling post-operative infections and reducing your fever so that you can heal. 

Your health is your wealth, so take the time to ensure that your surgical process is as smooth as possible. Ensure that you are in the process of maximizing your knowledge of what you are to know, and then taking the appropriate action. 


  1. Medscape: https://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/556201

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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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