Ankle Distraction with Growth Hormone for Treatment of Ankle Arthritis

Ankle joint arthritis is a common problem that causes pain and difficulty walking. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage in the joint deteriorates. The cartilage in the ankle joint acts as a cushion. Without this cushion, parts of the joint grind together, which causes pain and limits motion. Our center performs ankle distraction, which can help patients avoid ankle fusion or ankle joint replacement. For ankle distraction, an external fixator is applied. The external fixator gradually stretches apart the ankle joint. This gradual stretching reduces the pressure on the joint and allows the cartilage in the joint to heal. Growth hormone is injected into the ankle joint to stimulate the growth of more cartilage. The arrows on the images point to the joint space before the procedure and the increased joint space after the procedure. The patient is allowed to move the ankle and to walk on the ankle during treatment with the external fixator. This patient has had pain relief for seven years after the distraction treatment.