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Ankle Fusion

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Old 02-20-2002, 08:56 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 7
TonyC001 HB User
Post Ankle Fusion

Has anyone had their ankle fused because of arthritis? It has been suggested by two doctors that fusion of my subtalar joint(no cartilage left) would benefit me greatly in reducing my pain. Arthritis pain medication does not seem to help. I'm just looking for any success or non-success stories with this kind of surgery.

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Old 10-17-2004, 06:56 AM   #2
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 136
wordbird HB User
Re: Ankle Fusion

hi tony,
i'm recovering 4-1/2 months after a 7-foot fall in which i broke my right heel. although the symptoms and pain that would necessitate a subtalar fusion have not yet appeared, and i am starting to walk again without crutches or a cane, i am also wondering about the possibility of avoiding this operation, as i hear it's a b+*(&*ch and a long recovery period. i'd love to hear from anyone who has successfully beat this difficult arthritic condition without surgery. i wish you the best.

Old 11-26-2004, 10:51 AM   #3
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Posts: 25
daxmargo HB User
Re: Ankle Fusion

my best friend recently had ankle fusion, otherwise known as triple arthrodesis; and ironically, i am about to do the same in december. from what i can tell.. she is 7 months out of the surgery.. it is a LONG recovery. she was on crutches for 12 weeks, then an orthopedic boot for another 2 months.. still going through phys. therapy.. she has some loss of feeling in her foot, and inflammation still, but she says that the main area of previous pain is all but gone, that now it is more about learning to walk again with the bones fused, as her foot is much less flexible. No more running, hiking, dancing.. you cant turn the foot the same way anymore.
I am having mine done right before christmas.. if i could avoid it i would, but i have tried everything.. casting, anti inflammatories.. and still cant really walk without pain.. then when i finish the recovery for my right foot.. i have to do the left as well which i am not looking forward too.. basically my doctor told me to be prepared for a 10 month recovery per foot to be able to walk without pain. THere are a number of possible side effects too which freak me out.. but what can you do...(joint degeneration being the worst)

Old 02-06-2005, 05:04 PM   #4
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Kansas city Missouri
Posts: 1
sweeden HB User
Angry Re: Ankle Fusion

I am curently recovering from an ankle fusion. I had it done on the 28 of Jan 2005. It is the most painful thing that I have ever encountered. I have had another surgery on the same ankle about a year ago not near as painful. I hope that this recovery picks up a little I am about to go crazy being hostage of the recliner. I have two small children very difficult surgery for a young mother. If anyone can give me any positives that this will be all worth it that would be great. Thanks Maggie
Maggie Sweeden

Old 02-10-2005, 01:43 PM   #5
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2
delladay HB User
Wink Re: Ankle Fusion

I had to have two infusions on right foot. The first one did not take so well. About a year later they did another one that has helped tremdous. It is a long and painfull recovery. It has been 6 years now and so far no more surgeries, but I have been told it is possible with aging to have to have it again.

Old 03-03-2005, 06:29 PM   #6
Join Date: Mar 2005
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monalee50 HB User
Post Re: Ankle Fusion

I am 54 years old and I was born with a club foot. I had ankle fusion surgery at 11 years old (after tendon lenghthening surgery at age 6). Thirty-eight years later, I began to experience pain in my right ankle and it got worse over the next 5 years. Last fall, I met with two specialists, one of whom was an ankle replacement doctor. Though I could have the ankle replacement, it wasn't recommended because they don't last more than 5 years or so. The other two options both doctors gave me: ankle fusion or amputation. I chose ankle fusion. I had the surgery done on Jan. 7, 2005, so it's been 2 months. Just had the cast removed last week as the ankle is fusing nicely (I have 4 screws). Surgeon told me to go slowly trying to walk with the boot (like a ski boot) and to continue using the crutches until I felt comfortable. I'm afraid to put all my weight on the foot, but am doing better each day. It's awkward because the boot is stiff and the foot is stiff. I wonder how difficult it will be to walk once I don't need the restraining boot anymore. I was told I will need to wear rocker bottom shoes, but that's okay. I have no feeling on the bottom of my foot and the surgeon thinks a nerve may have been bruised during surgery. The worse part for me, being single, has been to depend on others. I have a wonderful sister who lives just a block away (and is married with 3 teenage boys) and she has really been a godsend. She drives me everywhere (including to and from work, a 28 mile roundtrip), helps me take care of my 2 dogs (dachshunds - one of whom had emergency back surgery a few weeks ago) and 3 cats, and goes shopping for me. The worse thing for me is being stuck in the house on the weekends when my sister and her family are out of town (like this weekend). I've been told that the swelling will last a few more months. If this surgery eliminates the deep bone pain I was experiencing, it will all be worth it. Right now, though, I'm at a point where, emotionally, I just want to be done with it! I want to walk again without crutches. I want to do my own chores, run my own errands, take care of my animals myself, and not have to depend on other people. At 54 years old, one thing I know is that time goes by very quickly, so I'm hanging in there -- I know that my planned family reunion vacation this summer in Cape Cod will see me walking without pain and without crutches!

Old 04-02-2005, 09:36 AM   #7
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Queeneev HB User
Re: Ankle Fusion

I have had a triple arthrodesis, but I have never heard of it referred to as ankle fusion. Are you sure it's the same thing? Triple arthrodesis is the fusion of 4 distinct bones within the FOOT (navicular, cuboid, subtalar, and calcaneous), it does not fuse the foot to the ankle. Regarding recovery, yes it is intensely long. But not painful for me. I was 12 weeks non-weightbearing, but only 1 week in the boot. I am an exception, please don't take this as bragging, but I like to share my experience because I mine is 100% positive and people should know the possibility. It takes hard work to do it well!!!! I was only on meds for 12 days. I returned to work after 8 days 9I would not recommend that, but I had a bet with myself so I did it). I have had 100% complete success, so the surgery does have it's upside. Not a single moment of the "old" pain, the reason for the surgery. There were "new" pains, but to me they were welcomed because they were simply part of progress. The new pain was mainly the soft tissue on the bottom of the foot getting used to the giant mass of bone now residing in there, and not having any "give" when you step down. Oh, and the day the cast came off, and the therapist tried to gently push my foot up or down, was excrutiating. But that eased up over the next month and eventually went away. That was simply due to the foot being immobile for so long.

I am as functional now as I was before the surgery. In fact, I am better. I run almost daily, and my 5k time is only 2 minutes slower than before. My gait is improved (albeit not by much). I don't lurch as much. I couldn't dance before, and i can't dance now, so HAHAHA. I can ride my bike, hike, jumprope, rock climb, ski, you name it. The only thing I can't do is get up on my tiptoes, and I walk funny, but I've walked funny for 43 years.

There is a huge thread somewhere about this. Go read it. And there is a "tips" thread, to prepare yourself in advance, and to get through it. For me the PRIMARY key was fitness and nutrition, followed closely by ELEVATION. Eat protein, drink tons of water, take BROMELAIN, glucosamine, do not ever ever ever step on the foot until the doc says to, and elevate it as much as you can, for perhaps 6 months. The edema took me a year to go away, but it wasn't painful. My foot actually is smaller now, I guess due to a different alignment. I have THREE SIZE difference!

To all you ladies with foot issues (men too), Nordstrom's will sell you shoes from 2 different pairs to fit your feet, if they are different by 1.5 sizes or more, no extra charge, for as long as they are in business. No kidding.

"THere are a number of possible side effects too which freak me out.. but what can you do...(joint degeneration being the worst)" I don't see how that can be, if your bones are fused, the joint is "gone". What would degenerate? My doc told me there was literally nothing I could do hurt the fusion after it healed, no excess wear and tear would occur. It is solid. I thought joint deterioration is the predecessor to the fusion!

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Old 04-20-2005, 03:13 PM   #8
sadies mom
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sadies mom HB User
Re: Ankle Fusion

I have had ankle problems for a while now ever since a bad fracture in Dec. of 2004. I had the repair done and 4 screws placed. Then last August an Arthroscopy due to cont. pain and swelling; and they found a piece of boney cartilege causing irritation. Now I am facing another Arthroscopy on May 10th for continued pain and some swelling. The Doc tells me that my ankle will never be the same and has mentioned fusion. But, after reading what you have all gone thru I am more scared than ever now. I can't walk long distances and sometimes need a cane~but at least I can walk. I also have a bad back(multiple herniations from an old work injury) and that has been aggravated by all the ankle problems because of lack of activity and the inbalance in my walking and posture. Is there anyone who has had a good recovery from an ankle injury? It seems once there is a fracture that nothing is ever the same!!!

Old 04-21-2005, 09:38 AM   #9
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2
monalee50 HB User
Re: Ankle Fusion

I am very pleased with the ankle fusion surgery I had on January 7th. I am walking and driving without pain. I am transitioning from a walking cast (which is great) into's a slow process, but I'm determined to do it. Depending on how much I'm on my feet during the day, I sometimes have some swelling around my ankle with the shoes. I have very comfortable rocker-bottom shoes (MBT's) that make the transition easier. Having suffered from ankle joint pain for the past 6 or 7 years, it's a joy having absolutely NO pain in my ankle. I am very confident that I will be walking in the shoes comfortably by the summer. Recovery from ankle fusion surgery can take 6 months or longer...but, for me, it's worth it.

Old 04-21-2005, 01:01 PM   #10
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hop HB User
Re: Ankle Fusion

One of my best friends had ankle fusion, but not because of arthritis, because of a very bad car accident that crushed her ankle, along with other damage. After a year on bedrest, a year of PT, she finally decided on fusion and while I can't remember the length of her recovery, I can tell you she is pain-free now and can do many, many things even though her foot is at a permanent 90 degree angle to her leg. The pain was literally killing her before. She barely walks with a limp now either, whereas before, she could hardly walk because of the pain. I know it is not your circumstance, but just to say there can be a very positive, pain-free outcome and she feels much more freedom than before.

Old 05-05-2005, 08:04 AM   #11
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 0
MACravens HB User
Re: Ankle Fusion

I'll be 24 years old this June. I had an ankle fusion done 6 years ago. I've gone thur 5 ankle surgies over the years. I had a bad go-cart accident when I was 12 years old. My ankle was totally rebuilt for me. I lived a normal teenager life, even played basketball. A few years after the accident I woren all the Cartliage out of my ankle. I was walking bone against bone. I was told at 14 years old I had to have an ankle fusion. I didn't like the thought of giving up running at that age. I waited for 4 years before I had my ankle fusion. I could no longer take the ankle pain. I had two ankle fusion done. My first Dr. screwed up on the operation. I waited a year to find out that he did something wrong. He recommond that I see one of the best ankle surgons in the country. So, I did and she fixed what he couldn't do. My second ankle fusion was a success. I've been mostly pain free for the last 6 years. My pain comes from permant nerve damage from my orginal accident. I do still have some swelling of the leg. But I walk just as normal as everyone else. When I meet new people their amazed that my left ankle is locked up. They would never guess that had an ankle fusion done. I wear normal shoes that don't have too much of a heal to them. I walk 3 miles a day. I'm happy that I choose to have my ankle locked up.

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Old 05-05-2005, 08:11 AM   #12
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 0
MACravens HB User
Re: Ankle Fusion

I had ankle fusion done because of arthritis. I had it done over 6 years ago. I still have some minor arthritis in the lower part of the joint that's not removed. But you gradually develope it over the years. Especailly depending on how much your up on your feet. As for me, I work in retail and I walk for 8 hours a day. Plus I stay in shape by walking 3 miles a week. As you can tell I'm on my feet alot. But my pain I can take some asprin and rest for a day and be back to normal self. I hope this helps.

Old 06-16-2005, 09:47 PM   #13
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 3
Hepkat HB User
Re: Ankle Fusion

Hi everyone,

I am a healthy 29 year old male who just suffered a broken leg during a fall in December. The leg is still broken and probably won't be healed until the fall, but the doctors have told me that my ankle will most likely have to be fused as it was injured in the fall. As you can imagine, I'm not at all thrilled at the prospect, especially since I love to dancing and rollerblading.

Since I don't have arthritis or other birth defects which necessitate ankle fusion, I guess my question is especially directed towards members who experienced some physical trauma, but of course I'd welcome responses from anyone who has something to share. I'd like to know, how has ankle fusion affected your quality of life? I've done my homework, so I know you won't be able to move the ankle in every direction like before, but are you still able to club dance, rollerblade, jump, climb or hike? And the most pressing concern is, how does it really affect your gait? Will there be a noticeable limp? How does your situation now compare to your situation before physical trauma?

I realize these are complicated questions, but I'm simply trying to prepare myself for the inevitable. I've made an appointment to see another surgeon to get a second opinion, but at the same time, I'm simply not in a position to doubt my present surgeon's opinion. I'm afraid that he's going to be correct and that I'll have to have this procedure done, much to my unending dismay!

Old 06-18-2005, 10:47 PM   #14
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 27
crazidan HB User
Re: Ankle Fusion

i am a w m 39 bad fracture in 2,17,1995 it was fine till 1,22,2004 then it got painful now the dr told me that i was only abel to get a ankle fusion but i didn't trust the dr that told about the fusion now i have a leg that about a half inch. differnce than the other but i don't have any cartilege left in right ankle but i still in pain but not able to lift anything right now but i fine a dr. i can trust or they not doing it at all all i got to say

Old 07-06-2005, 04:07 PM   #15
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Zsofia HB User
Unhappy Re: Ankle Fusion

my doctor is preparing me for ankle fusion, but she's holding my hand to make sure i go to the correct doctor w/experience. if it's not done right she told me it can hurt more than what i'm starting with.

i have NO idea how i'm going to get around after surgery. 12 weeks and a boot . . . Lord help me.

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