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3 TIPS to STOP Ankle Pain After Knee Replacement Surgery

by | Nov 19, 2021 | Home Exercise Programs

Ankle pain after total knee replacement surgery is very common. Osteoarthritis of the knee causes the knee to change shape over time. The knee replacement surgery will correct any malalignment of the knee, but it causes excessive stress on the ankle and hip.

In this article I will share three (3) strategies I have used in the physical therapy clinic to help reduce the acute ankle pain following a total knee replacement and prepare knee replacement patients for an enjoyable recovery from surgery.

Why does my ankle hurt after knee replacement surgery?

Pain on the inside or outside of the ankle is usally caused by changes in the alignment of the tibia (shin bond) after knee replacement.

The alignment of the knee directly affects the compression placed on the ankle. Your ankle is made up of several bones, but the two bones you feel on either side of your ankle are called your malleolus and are part of the tibia and fibula.

When the knee is bowed out (varus) it causes compression on the outside of the ankle.

Ankle Pain After Knee Replacement Surgery

When the knee is bowed in (valgus) it causes compression on the inside of the ankle.

Male with valgus knee knock kneed

Before surgery your ankle and hip had time to adapt to these positions over years of gradual bony changes.

After your knee surgery, the replacement makes the leg almost perfectly straight and now your ankle has to instantly adapt to the new force and new position. 

How to STOP ankle pain after knee replacement surgery.

First, take it slow. Your bones have molded to the old knee over decades of time. You can’t just remodel bone in a day. Give yourself time to gradually adapt to the new alignment.

Tip 1 – Start with a calf stretch.

Place the ball of your foot on a wedge or half foam roll. Keep the knee straight while leaning over the foot. You should feel a gentle stretch behind the knee or along the back of the lower leg. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat for 3 repetitions. 

Male doing a calf stretch after knee replacement surgery

Tipe 2 – Bent Knee Calf Stretch

In this position you will slightly bend the knee while keeping the heel on the ground and the ball of your foot on the wedge of half foam roll. Lean into the position and hold for 30 to 60-seconds and repeat for 3 repetitions.

Therapist Doing A Knee Bent Calf Stretch

Tip 3 – Tibial Rotation

Keeping your foot on the wedge or half foam roll you will now move your knee side to side to create rotation in the ankle. Repeat this 10 to 20 repetitions.

Therapist Doing Tibial Rotation

For more information about ankle or shin pain click here.

Anthony Maritato, PT

Anthony Maritato, PT

Physical Therapist

Anthony Maritato, PT has been a licensed physical therapist and private practice owner since 2006. Ohio license #PT011602.

Anthony has been passionate about helping patients recover from total knee replacement surgery as well as rotator cuff repair surgery.

Anthony Maritato, PT

Anthony Maritato, PT

Physical Therapist

Anthony Maritato, PT has been a licensed physical therapist and private practice owner since 2006. Ohio license #PT011602.

Anthony has been passionate about helping patients recover from total knee replacement surgery as well as rotator cuff repair surgery.