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Bone Health
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Ankle problem affecting balance

Just after I lost my husband four years ago, I managed inexplicably to seriously damage my right ankle - a very serious sprain. At the time, I was offered surgery, but refused as recovery time/immobility was up to six months, and I was suddenly living alone.

I have been sort-of coping - swimming, yoga etc - until around six months ago, when my ankle began to get stiffer and more painful. I have also recently been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

One of the side effects of this has been a weakened right leg, which of course affects other parts, too, and also, scarily, a loss of physical confidence. Surgery is not on the menu. Any comments/suggestions you may have would be very welcome - thanks.

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I’ve been thinking of this situation this evening. Only thoughts that come to mind at the moment is maybe seeing an Osteopath, a Traditional Style Chinese Acupuncturist or an NHS or private Physio. I’ve had a lot of help from a Traditional Style Acupuncturist with all my joint and knee bone problems. This type of Acupuncturist treats the body as a whole. Well something to think about.

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I had a similar injury to my left ankle shortly after my husband's death in 2003. Sadly, my referral to an orthopaedic consultant was intercepted by physio and as a consequence the ankle fused without surgical intervention. The loss of a 'rocker' movement of the subtalar joint affects my ability to retain balance and one could be forgiven for thinking I've imbibed 'one too many' as I totter on uneven ground. Surgery is out of the question as there is no guarantee of preventing further nerve damage and late intervention could make matters worse, with a risk of amputation. I have orthoses fitted to both shoes to make my ankles more comfortable but I dare not venture out without a walking stick.

My rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis came 13 years later, and osteopenia followed shortly afterwards.

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I suggest asking your GP to refer you to the NHS physios and podiatrists both of whom should be able to offer you advice. If the waiting list is long and payment is an option then a physio with an interest in rehabilitating lower limbs and in osteoporosis would be your best bet.

You may need to rest your affected ankle while at the same time exercising it - not an easy combination. It is now common to see people walking in many pools as well as swimming as exercise in water is beneficial when trying to build up muscle without causing strain. I hope you find the advice you need as I am sure there is a lot that can be done.

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Thank you. I will consider the water walking option, but at present I feel too scared to enter the pool.

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