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Amputation vs ankle fusion due to arthritis and leg length differences

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Old 08-29-2010, 10:43 PM   #1
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Amputation vs ankle fusion due to arthritis and leg length differences

I am 33 yrs old and have been told a an ankle fusion will be necessary as soon as I can not stand the pain anymore. The problem is I have one leg shorter than the other from complications due to club foot and already have the back and neck problems to go along with it. Ankle fusion would take even more length away. I have heard horrific stories of fusion (replacement is not an option). There is also a cavity already in the bone which would force grafting from my hip to fill in the hole. From having club foot I also have VERY limited movement in my foot. I need help and suggestions that this is even the way to go, or would amputation me a better option? This would then give me the length difference back and hopefully eliminate some pain. I know this seems drastic, but the wear and tear on the other joints from fusion and the lack of mobility in the foot already at 33 could lead to some really bad problems down the line! Help!!!

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Old 08-30-2010, 03:49 PM   #2
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Re: Amputation vs ankle fusion due to arthritis and leg length differences

Have you considered just having the shoe for the shorter leg, built up?

My aunt had a bone infection when she was a child prior to the age of antibiotics. She has surgery after surgery as her father wouldn't let them amputate her leg. As a result, her left leg was a good 4-5 inches shorter than her right so she had special built up and one regular. They can build up just about any kind of shoe. And if you think this would show more than an amputation, your wrong.

I had very bad arthritis in my knees and my left knee lost so much bone it was a good 1" shorter so I did find shoes that looked alike but with different size heels. With sneakers, I'd find one pair for women and a similar style for men and the sole was always much thicker and made walking much easier. And then I put in a thick insole. When I finally had my knees replaced, they did both at once to get the lengths right and I came out of surgery 2" taller.

Amputation is a very drastic solution to a fairly common problem and one you can't take back...ever. And you trade ankle pain for stump will not get rid of pain and may leave you with more pain. Try the shoes first and then whatever else the docs or prosthetic people can think of.

I just read an article on ankles.....fusion vs. replacements. Replacements are only used on older folks who won't outlive them. You get one go around with them. Not like knees or hips that can be revised. Fusion is for younger more active people. So you wouldn't qualify on those terms either. But I know young folks who got ankle fusions and think they're great. No problems.

But to think amputation rather than fusion......why would you want to go that far? I know how bad having different length legs is but they can always do a leg shortening surgery on your good leg if it's that much of a problem. And they can do leg lengthening surgery too.

You have options.


Old 09-02-2010, 07:15 PM   #3
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Re: Amputation vs ankle fusion due to arthritis and leg length differences

If you can swing it, go see John Herzenberg MD at Sinai hospital in Baltimore. He runs international center for limb lengthening and he does also progressive casting for kids with club foot. People come from all over the world to see him, yet he's a wonderful and modest man. Very few docs really know how to do limb lengthening. Be tenacious, and go for the best functional outcome.good luck

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amputation, ankle, arthritis, club foot, fusion

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