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  • Off to OS for first time re: ankle pain...what questions should I ask?

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    Old 05-11-2007, 09:29 PM   #1
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    Question Off to OS for first time re: ankle pain...what questions should I ask?

    I'm off to the OS on Wednesday morning, and I want to do this right and find out ahead of time what questions I should ask. He was recommended by my GP (who is worse than worthless, and I'm never seeing him again for any reason), but I don't hold that against him. I've seen some good reviews of him, and he has done a Fellowship in foot and akle surgery at Northwestern, so I feel pretty good about him. As good as possible not having meet him, anyway.

    My story:

    I've had plantar fasciitis for years, coming and going randomly, but for the past several years I had no problems with it. About a month and a half ago, it resurfaced, but only in one foot, the left. I figured I'd wait it out -- in the past, all I had to do was spend a few weeks stretching, icing, and rolling a can of soup with my feet, and it would ease up.

    But instead of easing up it got worse and worse, and eventually my ankle started to get into the act. Now I feel like I've sprained my ankle, but I haven't twisted it or done anything to it. I thought that might go away too - I sprain my ankles a bit all the time - but it's just getting steadily worse, and finally I went to see my GP about it. He ordered an X-ray, and (a few weeks later, because I'm lame and work was busy) I finally went to get it done.

    The comedy of errors that ensued could have ended up in a law suit if I were a different person. First, Northwestern failed to send my x-rays to my GP, as the order instructed very clearly. Instead, they sent them - I kid you not - to my ear/nose/throat doctor. Imagine my surprise when the guy who handles my sinus problems called me up to say, "Uh... so, I got this x-ray of your ankle...?" Anyway, he's a good guy, and I jokingly said, "Is it broken? Will I have to have it off?" He said, "Well...." and told me that the x-ray showed some old ligament damage that hadn't healed properly and some bone "irregularities", and said I should definitely go see my GP about it.

    I'd already scheduled that appointment, so a few days after I went in to my GP. And he said - again, I am not kidding - "Oh, I left you a message about that on your machine - you're fine. The X-ray was completely normal." I said, "Okaaaaay, that's weird for two reasons. First, it hurts like hell. Second, the guy who mistakenly received my x-rays called to tell me I had old ligament damage." My GP said, "Huh" and then "Hang on, let me check something" and left the room for a few minutes. When he came back, he said, "Oh, ha, sorry! I only had the first page of the report."

    ... he only had. the first page. of the report. Good thing I didn't have brain cancer, huh? And good thing I didn't check my answering machine!

    Anyway, he said my ENT was right, I had old ligament damage and some subtalar arthritis probably, and referred me to this new OS. And I've been getting angrier and angrier at my GP ever since because he did NOTHING about the actual pain. He didn't prescribe pain killers, didn't tell me if I could walk on it, didn't say if I should ice it or rest, didn't wrap it, nothing. He didn't even tell me which ligament it was. He gave me a wrong diagnosis followed by a lame apology followed by a phone number. He's seen the very last of me.

    So, the earliest the OS could fit me in was two weeks later, and that appointment is this Wednesday. The pain has been getting worse and worse. I'm actually taking vicodin for it that is left over from pain meds I was given after spinal surgery a year ago. It's the only way I can actually stay on my feet. Without it, the pain comes and goes - perfectly fine one minute, then ten minutes later I'm hobbling around like an old woman. This past week, it's about 90% hobbling. I have to hold on to furniture to get around my house.

    The horrible GP did mention that physical therapy for this kind of thing is rarely successful, and that surgery is most often indicated, but that's all I got out of him. I'm *terrified* of that - like I said, I had spinal surgery a year ago, for a ruptured cervical disk, and it was a horrible experience followed by almost a year of pain. I'm just now getting to the point where I feel normal again; I'm sick of looking at doctors, and the thought of having to go through another year like this past one gives me the shakes.

    I guess I'm just wondering if anyone else has had something like this diagnosed, and what kinds of things it could be. And if you've had surgery to stabilize your ankle, what was the recovery like? How long before you felt like your normal self again? And what are the long-term implications? I'm 36 now; will I end up in a walker at sixty because my feet no longer work? Will I be able to ride my bike to work (seven miles, mostly flat) afterwards? Walk for exercise, use my elliptical machine...?

    And will I ever play the piano again? =) I know a lot of my nervousness is due to past bad experiences, I just kind of want to know what to expect.

    Last edited by merryish; 05-11-2007 at 09:41 PM.

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    Old 05-14-2007, 05:37 AM   #2
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    Re: Off to OS for first time re: ankle pain...what questions should I ask?

    First, don't listen to your GP, you already don't trust him and I wouldn't either for good reason. Find someone else.

    In regards to your visit to the OS, it is tough to know what to ask without knowing exactly your diagnosis. I do know if the issue involves ankle instability and the recommendation is a brostrom repair, you could be NWB for as long as 6 weeks, the PWB to FWB with PT and be pretty normal in about six months. Every doc's protocol is different as is every patient.

    I would not be surprised if a MRI is order to get a good look at the tendons in your foot and ankle.

    If surgery is the option presented here are some questions to ask:
    Explain the procedure.
    How long NWB?
    Recovery Processes?
    Physical Therapy?
    How successful is the procedure?
    Any other options?
    Anything I should ahead of time to prepare?

    Good Luck!
    "Every good has a better and every bad a worse."

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