Ankle Fusion

Hi

I am looking for some feedback from anyone that has had an ankle fusion. I am in my mid 30s, and need to do something about my pain levels and inability to walk for any length of time / distance. I have had multiple previous surgeries with varying success and do not take having any operation lightly, but with a young son to look after and hopefully another on the way, I need a solution. I cannot take any more painkillers without increasing to morphine, which I do not want to do, so am looking into having the ankle fusion as a possibility next year.

I would like to hear just from those people that have had the operation. How did it impact on pain levels (did it get worse or better)? How was your walking after the op? Did the Op then impact the pain levels in your knees and hips? How did it affect your ability to wear shoes (as I presume you cannot bend your ankle to get certain shoes or boots on)?

Basically, any first hand experience tales would be great.

Thanks

Sophie

4 Replies

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  • Dear Sophie,

    Sorry to hear about your sever pain at such a young and busy age. I have had three ankle fusions (!) all on the same ankle. The first one was a complete disaster -foot set at the wrong angle to my shin so I had to wear three inch heels and keep my knee bent, infection in my tibia, screws backing out and real all consuming pain. The next was better, but still not right and again the bones didn't fuse, being held together only by the screws. This last time it seems to have worked. After only a few months there is bone growing across the joint and I can put my foot flat on the ground with my leg straight for the first time for about ten years and walk almost normally. Stairs are still a problem, but that is weakness rather than the ankle. There was little post operative pain and since I started walking again there has not been much, except when I overdo things. I have been off tramodol for three weeks now, but shall probably have to go back on because my hands are hurting so much. It is just a pity it took three goes and eight years to get to this point.

    Each time I had different metal work. The first time it was a nail, that is a rod which goes through the base of the heel and up through the tibia, together with screws in the ankle. The second time it was much bigger, thicker screws. This last time I had a lot of bone which had grown around the outside of the intended fusion sawn off, the bones reshaped and a piece of metal down the front of my shin and curving over the bones at the front of my foot together with the screws. What works for one ankle won't necessarily be best for another and my experience should not be taken as typical. It can work very well, as my last operation shows, but explore the options very thoroughly first.

    I was at a stage where I could barely walk as my ankle was so loose and wobbly that it was twisting and failing to hold me up, when I finally found someone who knew what was wrong with me and I rushed into the first operation, thinking it would put me back to normal.

    As for shoes, well you have to laugh or it would be too sad to contemplate your shoe rack. The main problem is the angle of foot to shin. Once the bones have fused, you are stuck with only a small variation around that angle so very flat pumps or heels of any height are out. I don't find too much trouble getting my foot round the angle in wellies, but tight boots would be difficult if they didn't open all the way down. After each operation I have had to rethink my shoes, so don't buy anything expensive before hand. Once you know how your foot shapes up after the surgery there are a mass of solutions out there . After the first operation I found that vain men's trainers with lifts solved the problem which orthoses couldn't. Just waiting now for the swelling to go (in my case it takes along time ) so I can see what size and shape my feet are this time.

    Best of luck,

    RE Green

  • My dad has had this several times as it failed I'm in my 40's and having seen what my dad went through I wouldn't have you tried SAFO's they are my life saver

  • I'm having my ankle fused in 3 weeks on the 17th January, I can't walk on it at the moment and when I do causes ridiculous swelling. Fusion is my last resort, I have tried everything else! How long does it take to be fully recovered! I'm pooing my pants about it as I have a 4 year old son along with CMT I have Elhers Danlos joint hypermobility and Arnold Chiari Malformation.

  • Hi Sophia,

    I had my ankle fused about 12 years ago (on my right foot) after several tendon transfers didnt work, along with toe straightening. On my left foot about 8 years ago I had tendon transfers and part bone fusion but the right is totally fused and frankly I wish I had my left done too, cause it is so much better. They took wedges of bone out of both feet to make each foot more functional. It has been great for me- though I am in Australia so the ops may be different.

    I found it fantastic, for me it has done wonders. My walking after the op is great, with the right physio and learning to walk with the reconstructed foot was great and much less painful. But again I dont know if the ops differ in each country.

    I am happy to talk further about this if you need to, good luck

    Liz :)

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