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ask: Living with an ankle fusion and subtalar fusion--Any advice?

In January of 2009, I fell from a ladder and suffered a catastrophic open-bone fracture of my talus. Not only was the talus shattered, but I immediately developed a serious infection and subsequent deep wound. 9 surgeries, 8 months of IV antibiotics, 9 months on a VAC device, and 15 months of walking in a boot, later . . . I am now looking at life following a complete ankle and subtalar fusion (no part of my ankle moves--except my toes). I am overjoyed that my fusion surgery was successful and am looking forward to learning how to walk again! I was just given the go-ahead from my doctor to begin using MBT shoes and to start physical therapy. I am just wondering if others have walked this road before and have any advice or insight. Thanks so much. Anneh8sldrs (Anne hates ladders)

Add a Comment26 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I wanted to talk about my recent Subtalar fusion. I am 45 and my surgeon told me I needed to have this operation as I was too young to be suffering with pain as I was. After a year of deliberation with my husband and family, I decided to go ahead. We made plans to assist with life after the op.. I had the procedure take place on February 26th 2014, I have been very fortunate to nt suffer with too much pain. I only took pain killers for the first five days.. After the first two weeks I was put in a full cast after having my stitches removed. After a further two weeks I was put in an air cast boot. I'm not going to lie it is not great, but it can be taken off to wash, which is lovely.
I am now starting to put slight weight on it which does feel very strange.... I hope I continue to get on as well as I have done so far.. I am very bored and feel extremely isolated, even though I am so fortunate to have such a loving and supportive family. The frustration to not be able to do things is immense. I use a walker which has fixed brakes, I personally find this a god send..

March 28, 2014 - 4:27pm
EmpowHER Guest

I had sub Talar fusion surgery on 11/29/13. Still in a hard cast, definitely frustrated from inability to do the things I want to do, still taking pain meds at night (that's when it seems to feel worst). I have had 7 prior surgeries to this foot and ankle, so not new to this. One piece of advice I can offer: get a knee walker! Crutches are awful and you can't do anything when you're on crutches. I got a knee walker (a scooter that you kneel on with your bad side) and it has greatly increased my mobility. Now I can cook, carry things and shop without hoping to get an electric cart. They're great, wish I had one for my previous surgeries.

January 16, 2014 - 10:05am
EmpowHER Guest

After fracture to my talus, I was put in a boot and told walking as pain tolerated. After about 2 weeks it collapsed, sent to ankle specialist and after 5 months non weight bearing, ankle collapsed and pin broke. Fusion recommended but I put it off for a year cause I had some movement and was scared of the surgery. Push came to shove and going to fax paper work to have surgery ankle gave way and ended up with spiral fracture to my femur! i know, right? 2 surgeries later I'm about to have the fusion.
I'm told talar and subtalar fusion . I'm scared!! Finding Dr is scary, how do you know that they're the right one? Does bedside manner really play into the equation? I don't know what questions to as, I don't know how to decide what doc. Basically I'm freaking out! Sorry for rant, long post

November 16, 2013 - 4:51pm
EmpowHER Guest

I had a subtalar fusion with ligament reconstruction in Jan of 2012 and here I am now almost 2 years later and it still hurts! Sometimes it "locks" and I can't walk normal for a bit... It's VERY depressing! I'm only 25 and my husband is a soldier so you can imagine his level of activity and I feel like I can never keep up with him no matter how hard I try! I wonder sometimes if I made a huge mistake having this surgery because it feels worse now then preop! The only difference is if I fall now I don't break my foot :/

How long did your recovery take?

October 28, 2013 - 11:45pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I had an ankle fusion done about 20 years ago. i had a bad accident in Bosnia and this was my 4th op. The 1st 2 they pinned the ankle but every movement was very painful, My surgeon then decided to do a fusion (3rd op) and I was in plaster for 5 months. when the plaster was removed I was still in terrible pain and a short time later he carried out a 2nd fusion (4th op) this time taking bone from my hip (grafting) and again in plaster for another 5 months (if I remember correctly I was not weight bearing) that op was successful and now almost 16 years ago I am just beginning to get trouble again because I am falling alot but it may be due to the way I walk and not lift my foot properly or it could be hearing problems cos I did have Labrynthitis. the only problem with fusion is not being able to wear high shoes but it is better than having constant pain,. I do hope this helps you. I have sympathy for you because I know your pain ankles are really tough to heal but good luck and don't worry please get help though
Kindest Regards

November 15, 2013 - 4:51pm
EmpowHER Guest

hi i came off a ladder 13 years ago in 2000 smashed my ankle to peaces.they tried to rebuild the ankle joint.But after some little improvment then it got to the point were i was in so much pain as my caltrige was complety worn away bone touching bone. That they recommended fusion this was about 2 and a half years latter must say the pain as almost gone still some discomfart can jog abit i am now also a postmon have been for over 7 years but do find it harder to lose weight as i am not as active now

August 22, 2013 - 11:50pm
EmpowHER Guest

hi everyone. i recently had lateral ligament reconstruction and subtalar fusion. its been almost 7 weeks since my surgery and am in a moonboot. i have pain and can't walk unaided. i have always been flexible with my ankles and my right ankle had some damage due to childhood stupidity. I would love to know for those who have had this surgery, did you go through depression? i currently am depressed as i can't drive, can't walk properly, am in pain constantly. i can't see a future without having this moonboot on me. anyone else go through this?

July 1, 2013 - 2:04am
outdoor (reply to Anonymous)

Yes, I am going through this as well but with a variation: subtalar fusion; tibial tendon reconstruction, bunionectomy. I am starting to finally feel better after 12 weeks which is how long I had to have my casts on...6 months hard cast and 6 months moon boot.
- I didn't stop taking pain medication until about the 2nd month. My pain seemed to morph. Three or four days my bunion area hurt, then that would go away and my ankle would be painful for 4 - 5 days. I guess this is all normal as you start walking, weight shifts and everything moves around. Now all my pain has gone away except the area of my incision in my heel from the subtalar fusion. I have heel pain so hoping this is just temporary as well.
- I was VERY depressed and still am in a bit of a funk. Looking back this seems normal as you became totally dependent on someone else for every needs (going to the grocery store, fixing meals, etc.). You can't exercise which helps with depression. You are in pain and you think "Why the "F" did I go through this surgery and still have pain." It is just such a long slog to go through and seems never ending. Plus even my best friends don't get what a pain this is and while there was help in the beginning weeks, this quickly dropped off.
- A good piece of advice was...just focus on tomorrow and small improvements. I.E, "I slept a half hour more last night, I took less pain medication today, The pain in my ankle is gone today" The change and healing seems to take forever so this is a good way to not get so bummed that it will never end. The docs really don't tell you how long you will feel bad. I have read that it can take 6 months to a year before you feel normal. I guess a lot of people wouldn't go through surgery (if they didn't have to) if they knew this going in.
- Having said all this, I think I will take an anti-depression med for a bit to help me out of this slump.

August 6, 2013 - 4:07pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Hi, I had a Subtalar Fusion 4 weeks ago and whilst I am a very positive person I have in the past few days become quite fed up of being housebound, off my feet and unable to do anything so you are not on your own. Clearly things will get better and it's important to remember that it is normal to get down about this when you are stuck !

July 22, 2013 - 9:30am
EmpowHER Guest

When I was 25, I had a car wreck that broke my right ankle so bad that it dislocated 90 degrees. Luckily, I had a great Dr. that actually saved my foot. I broke the talis bone in half. He ended up taking the top half and fuse my foot. I had also broke my femur that put me in traction for a week. Over the next year & a half I had several surgeries. In 2007, I had another fusion surgery that helped with the pain from arthritis. I am now 51 and on disability. I still have discomfort, but am thankful that I have a foot.

June 7, 2013 - 9:49am
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