Suffering from injuries while playing sports is unavoidable and can happen to anyone. An ankle wound is one of them. After surgery,” Can you play pickleball after ankle replacement?” is a common question by passionate players.

This content will provide you with the information to answer it. However, we will learn what ankle replacement is and why you must take it first before going to the main point. Without delay, let’s start!

What Is Ankle Replacement Surgery?

The ankle joints are a place where three kinds of bones, including the tibia, calf, and talus, meet. The connection between your lower legs and feet enables your movement every day.

Over time, the joints will lose their flexibility, become worn out, and tear. People who contract that will feel pains, inflammation, and swelling in their ankles. They will also find walking difficulties and hardly participate in sports activities because of this problem.

Ankle replacement surgery is a way to resolve the above symptoms. It is an operation to remove the damaged parts of the ankle joints and replace them with new artificial implants. With this new prosthetic, you can move smoothly with confidence. 

This way is usually used to deal with arthritis due to an injury or a health problem in the elderly. 

Normally, an ankle replacement surgery will have three steps. First, the doctor will make an incision in your ankle using anesthesia. Then, he will look for the impaired parts and remove them.

Finally, he will attach artificial metal joints, specifically the titan and chrome, into the tibia and talus, with plastic in the middle of the two bones.

What Is Ankle Replacement Surgery
Ankle replacement surgery

Why Do You Need To Take An Ankle Replacement Surgery?

An ankle replacement should be necessary if you have faced severe symptoms in the area around your ankle, like continuous pains, stiffness, swelling, or inflammation.

If you have suffered from these, your arthritis can worsen, and it is time for ankle replacement surgery.

Below are three main kinds of severe arthritis problems that you might face:

  • Osteoarthritis: This problem usually happens in older adults, whose bodies decrease their flexibility and balance. Their contact surface between the tibia and the talus is wear and tear, which cannot help them preserve motion.
  • Arthritis: This can happen to people who have injuries in the ankle area in the past. After a while, these wounds will degrade, which prevents patients from walking on uneven surfaces or going up and down stairs.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: A disease by which the immune system attacks the healthy cells by mistake, specifically in the joints, causing pain and inflammation.

Depending on body signs, you will have to take an operation to get the impaired joints out of your body. However, if you only have a minor and moderate problem, you can take prescription or corticosteroid injections as another way to relieve your pain.

How Long Does An Ankle Replacement Surgery Take?

This type of operation normally takes around 90 minutes to 120 minutes to complete, depending on each patient’s difficulties and physical condition.

Before the surgery, you can get anesthesia, which makes you sleep during the operation. However, if you are allergic to anesthesia and having an anesthesia shot is dangerous for your body, then a nerve block would be preferable.

The doctor will then cut the front and sides of your ankle. He will detach the damaged cartilage and bones from your body and replace them with suitable materials and plastic.

Next, he will stitch the cutting and then cover it with a splint, which is soft in the front and hard in the back. The splint will help form your ankle and protect it from injury.

After 120 minutes, you will be moved out of the operation room. When the anesthesia or nerve block medicine loses effectiveness, you will feel numbness or pain in the operating parts. Do not worry! That is a normal symptom and can be relieved by using medicines.

How Long Does An Ankle Replacement Surgery Take
Ankle replacement operation will take 90-120 minutes

Can You Play Sports After Ankle Surgery?

Several people might be concerned about whether they can play sports after ankle surgery. That is because the number of this kind of operation is few, and even if it is taken, the doctor usually advises patients not to operate too much.

Another reason for this hesitation is the surgery usually takes place with the older adults, who are easily contracted to arthritis and do not move much. Hence, it is understandable to think they cannot play sports anymore if they have an ankle replacement.

However, that is not the case. After a few months of recovering from the pain, you can participate in many sports games. Many patients return to the matches and enjoy them many years after that.

Challenging activities like long walking, hiking, biking, or skiing are no problem. 

Nevertheless, as you have gone through an operation, and the new joints are just artificial, you need to treat it carefully with respect. 

Hence, several sports are not recommended, such as contact sports, squats, or heavy weights, as they can lead to earlier wear of the replacement and failure in a much shorter time than it should.

Can You Play Pickleball After Ankle Replacement?

Pickleball is a game played by two (single player) or four (double players) aiming to keep the hollow ball above the ground using rackets.

This game requires the fineness and quickness of your feet for constant movements. You must reflect and move your body quickly in many places in a short period. These movements include twisting, bending, jumping, running, side-to-side moving, etc.

With the high requirements above, can you participate in pickleball matches with friends after the ankle surgery? Thankfully, the answer is Yes. You can participate and enjoy the pickleball game any time you want. 

Unlike ankle fusion, which can resolve your pain but restrict you from moving, ankle operation allows patients to retain their motion, providing flexibility and functionality, which enables them to join many sports activities, including pickleball.

Now, there is no confusion about the enjoyment of participating in active lifestyle activities like pickleball, an ankle replacement. However, before jumping out of bed and heading to the court, you must know how to recover from an ankle surgery by reading the section below.

Can You Play Pickleball After Ankle Replacement
Can You Play Pickleball After Ankle Replacement

How To Return To Pickleball Ankle Replacement?

Usually, on the second day after the operation, you will be discharged from the hospital. However, you still need to see the doctor as per schedule to ensure the injury is healing as expected, and only leave if you have the doctor’s permission.

Once at home, you have to follow the surgeon’s instructions, including eliminating movements, elevating the ankle by using supportive tools, keeping the cast, splint, and bandages dry, and only moving by using crutches or having people to support you within 2-14 days.

Another 2-6 weeks will be the recovery period. People with quick recovery can transfer to using a walking boot, while others still have to limit movements. 

Once your ankle is strong enough to bear the weight, it is time for physical therapy. 

Remember to take these sessions regularly, as practicing physical therapy exercises will help you heal the pain more quickly and make your ankle stronger, ready for pickleball matches.

You will continue doing physical therapy for the next 6 weeks to 9 months. Depending on each individual, the recovery process will be varied from 6-9 months. After that time, your ankle is ready to return to the pickleball court.


What Sports Can You Do After Ankle Replacement?

Most of the patients can return to sports activities they are keen on after ankle replacement. Simple sports like walking, running, and hiking, and the complicated ones such as swimming, skiing, golf, pickleball, etc., are all fair game.

However, contact sports like squats, basketball, or soccer should be avoided. The replacement is just an artificial plastic, so we need to treat them carefully.

Who Is Not A Good Candidate For Ankle Replacement?

People who contract chronic diseases like diabetes, heart or lung problems, poor circulation, and so on should not take this type of surgery. These problems might cause anaphylaxis or serious infection to your wound.

What Are The Restrictions After Ankle Replacement?

To get the quickest recovery, you should not move much and leave some time for the healing. Do not keep the rug or electrical cords near you, as they will increase the risk of stripping if you practice physical therapy.

Besides, try to quit smoking, as it is a stimulant and will impede healing.

What Are The Restrictions After Ankle Replacement
Stay away from tripping hazards like rugs while resting from the operation


Now, you can give the answer to the query,” Can you play pickleball after ankle replacement.” Yes, it is possible to take a pickleball match with your beloved friends with your new ankle.

It might take several months for the recovery, but be patient, as after that, your ankle is available for dynamic pickleball activities.

>>See more: Can I Play Pickleball With Spinal Stenosis?