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8 weeks post op OATS ankle questions

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Old 06-02-2012, 06:25 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: hibbing, minnesota, usa
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pyrowizard719 HB User
8 weeks post op OATS ankle questions


The dreaded day for my OATS surgery came on April 18th. I had to have a cadaver bone used since my osteochondral desicans was 20mm x 18mm x 8mm.

I had a cast on from May 2nd until May 27th when I got the thing soaked.
It feels amazing to be in a boot though and to be able to shower normally. I still use my shower chair.

I was wondering, my OS told me no weight bearing on May 30th until he sees me again July 11th. I only need to go in if I have signs of infection (which I do not) or any increased pain/swelling.

Is it still normal for your leg to turn purplish/red when it is not elevated? I also have a dent in the spot where I believe the cadaver bone was placed. Everything looked amazing on x ray he said and my body is taking to the new bone very well. He does not want to have me bear any weight because this is really my last stop before a replacement or a fusion and I am only 28 years old. This injury happened almost 18 years ago and this OATS procedure is lucky #3 for me for surgeries on this ankle. My fibula had to be broken to get the graft in since the spot was so huge as well. I have a plate with 6 screws on top of the cadaver bone in my talus. He used screws that could be dissolved.

My questions though for you who went through this are:

-How long does your foot turn reddish purple when not elevated? (I was told this was still normal.)

-How long was PT and how bad did it hurt?

-How long were all of you non weight bearing? I am only 8 weeks out and he does not want to jeopardize things like I stated above the healing of this surgery.

-Is it true that many people who had this surgery do not know if it worked until at least 6 months post-op?

-How are your lives not after having this surgery? I know I will never have a normal ankle and I will have days where I have pain, but I just want to be able to chase after my toddler and walk a couple of miles, or use an elliptical.

-I asked my surgeon these questions as well, and he said they all vary greatly from case to case basis. I do know that as well, but I feel so alone in this recovery. When I mention what is wrong with my ankle, and my surgery to my family/friends, they were like....whoa holy crap. They do not really understand or realize how invasive this is.

Thank you to all who will respond to my weird questions. Any feedback on how to speed up a recovery is a good thing. I have been air bicycling and getting plenty of vitamin D, calcium, etc. to promote healing.


A woman who has dealt with a bad left ankle since 1994 (6th grade volleyball injury that was a severe sprained ankle.) It will be 18 years this October...sigh

-3 surgeries on left ankle
-countless rounds of PT (before surgeries)
-many cortisone shots
-non weight bearing long before surgeries to see if it would help
-custom orthodics for both feet
-4 MRI's
-too many x rays to keep track of

I still am blessed no matter what. Thank you all and take care!

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Old 06-06-2012, 01:55 PM   #2
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Re: 8 weeks post op OATS ankle questions

Congratulations on getting out of the cast. My OCD surgery was much less involved than yours, but my right foot still turned dark without elevation even 3 months after surgery. The difference was right after surgery it would turn dark, swell up quickly and hurt. About 3 weeks after surgery it would get red, swell up slowly and throb just a little. About 6 weeks after surgery it would turn just slightly more reddish than the other side and no longer swelled or hurt. I swear today (11 months later) the right foot is still slightly darker (but not red or purple) than the left if I stand around for a while.

My period of NWB was a huge hassle but it was very short and we cannot compare it to yours because our surgeries were so different. My suggestion would be to ask your doc and PT if you can do range of motion exercises while NWB and/or do exercises that strengthen your upper leg without stressing the surgery area. The doc I consulted who told me to do OATS said I could/should get on a stationary bike even with the cast on to prevent atrophy of the upper leg muscles, but in the end I didn't get OATS. Maybe you already are working on the ROM and strengthening with the air bicycles.

As a coincidence, I also injured my ankle playing volleyball a few years before you did, but after rehab didn't give it a thought until the first MRI in 2010.

Last edited by LivesNearStore; 06-06-2012 at 02:03 PM.

Old 06-19-2012, 01:48 AM   #3
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: hibbing, minnesota, usa
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pyrowizard719 HB User
Re: 8 weeks post op OATS ankle questions

I have been doing air bikes and other calisthenics exercises to work my core, keep muscles in my left left from going bye bye and to keep my sanity. Pain meds are weaning down slowly as well. Whenever and I mean whenever there is a storm system coming through, it hurts so bad, that and whenever the thing get bumped. My OS is awesome and is very involved.
ROM is slowly and starting with wiggling my toes and moving my ankle from front to back motion. It has helped a lot. My gall bladder flared up last fall so I lost almost 100 lbs so that helped A LOT for this surgery prep. I was 285 and the day of my surgery I weighed in at 196. Lately I have also been doing free weights too so my upper body gets leaned out. My goal is to promote blood flow to the area and to follow everything my OS says to do. It has been so hard though.
I see him July 11th, so perhaps he will be less stringent on my NWB since my surgery was April 18. July 11 will mark 86 days since I walked. It is getting old, but I keep the future in mind, and that also this is my final option. I am only 28 years old and far too young for a fusion or replacement. My OS will not even consider doing either surgery, so keeping my fingers crossed that this works.

I take my vitamin D 1000 IU's and a multi vitamin plus I get out in the sun a lot. it is a long process and the hardest surgery by far and the most painful! I should have been admitted. Percocets did nothing for me. I took two 10/325 every 4 hours like told and after my nerve block wore off, I ended up in the ER on April 19th with a fever and BP was 151/112 and my pulse was in the 130's. They gave me diladid (Spelling?) 2 mg through an IV and that regulated it but it STILL hurt! Then the ER lady gave me a weeks worth of oxycontin to take along with those percocets. I am now down to lortab 7.5/325 and some days I take only 2 and of course ibuprofin and other days I take 8 (I can take 1 or 2 every 4 to 6 hours as needed.) It sucks and I want it to all be over and things back to normal.
I got a 2 year old daughter and my husband is disabled and has a TBI so things have been hard for us.

Thank you for your response. I thought more people would be active with this thread but I guess not.

Old 06-19-2012, 08:02 PM   #4
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Re: 8 weeks post op OATS ankle questions

I would suggest doing a search on here and read through older threads. At the time I was going thru it there were 4 of us who had it around the same time.

Good luck!
Microfracture, OATS, Distraction arthroplasty x2, Subtalar fusion, Achilles lengthening, Tarsal Tunnel release x3, Total Ankle Replacement, Peroneal Tear/Subluxation Repair/Groove Deepening

Old 06-20-2012, 07:53 AM   #5
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Re: 8 weeks post op OATS ankle questions

Not getting alot of replies is not necessarily a bad thing, once people are fully healed they rarely post so not alot of replies means everyone has moved on.

The reason they do not know for a year if it has worked is that the bone has to revasculate. It needs to get blood flow going through it again to stay alive. This can take quite a while. Remember you just had a very complicated surgery. Your defect was quite large. In reality even 10 years ago they did not have this approved as treatment and your suffering cauld have gone on for years without a fix.

The non weight bearing can last up to 12 weeks. Don't rush this, i know it feels like a lifetime but taking care of it now will help it in the process of incorporation. Once you start theropy it goes really quick. They will have you off of crutches and walking so fast you will not feel you are ready yet. The pain part varies from person to person. The leg muscles and tendons get very weak during the 12 weeks and rebuilding them takes a while. The achilles tendon will be your enemy for a few weeks. Theropy will last as long as your doctor approves. Depends on insurance.

Swelling can last 6 to 8 months even a year. The discoloration should start to go away soon. The leg needs to to be elevated above your heart to get proper rest. Not just up on a chair or footrest.

As for life after, for most people it seems like it can be very good, there are exceptions on this board. There are quite a few who have been not successful and have had to get even more surgeries. Personally I had oats on both legs, the left was first and has worked pretty good. My right was done May 2011 and turned out awesome! I don't run but I do the eliptical and bike over an hour a day and can walk so well that no one would know I had anything done unless I tell them.

Stay strong, stay positive, Rest as much as possible, ICE alot up to the 6 month mark. Best wishes to you!

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