Distraction arthroplasty is a distraction (stretching out) of the ankle joint. The ankle is held in this distracted position for a period of time. This technique is used to unload the ankle joint and allow healing of the damaged joint. It may be recommended for a patient who has ankle arthritis.
The major goal of this treatment is healing of damaged tissue that occurs from arthritis. Distracting and unloading the ankle joint, along with the use of range of motion activity, is believed to help restore some of the damaged tissue in the ankle. With this restoration, a patient may be able to avoid or delay a more invasive procedure such as an ankle fusion or total ankle replacement. This allows patients to maintain motion of the ankle joint, which would be lost with an ankle fusion, and potentially avoid activity restrictions that may be necessary after an ankle replacement.