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

By anneh8sldrs March 30, 2010 - 9:51pm
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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)

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EmpowHER Guest

I had the STAR ankle replacement in early January, 2016 and am so happy that I did not have the fusion. l am a swimmer and scuba diver. My gate is normal which is a problem with the fusion and I can use fix and swim as before. The ligament was also repaired and that took a little longer to heal. But after only 8-10 weeks I was walking normally with occasional mild pain.
If possible this is the way to go.
I had to insist on consultants and had to see many many medical personnel to finally get approval for the implant but it was well worth it. One should insist on consultants for the implants. The STAR is good because you have the same movement as your original ankle.

May 16, 2016 - 12:54am
EmpowHER Guest

As I posted before, I eventually opted to have an amputation after 13 saved surgeries and chronic infection. I have now been an amputee for 5 years and am VERY happy and pain free! Feel free to write me if you are considering this as an option and would like more information.

February 4, 2016 - 10:03am
April Star Granier (reply to Anonymous)

Hi There,
I was 27 when my heel was crushed and sustained knee, back, and neck injuries and they are all getting much worse and ready for surgeries. With my foot, I had about 5 decent years with the hardware in comparison to what most people do. I was told that this was because my bachelor's degree was in Exercise Physiology and I was pursuing a Master's in Physical Therapy (utilized pool therapy after being discharged from PT)and I was a fitness model at the time of the accident. Thus, the hardware started to literally tear through my tendons and ligaments. The hardware was removed too late and the doctor I was seeing was injecting cortisone straight into those Peroneal Tendons causing me zero function at this time and in need of a Subtalar fusion per new Ortho. I did get an injection in my Subtalar joint but it did not help at all so now I don't believe a fusion will help with my pain. The pain is debilitating and this injury has affected my financial state, emotional state, social life, relationships and etc. I am now 41 years of age and am researching the outcomes of amputation and the quality of life that it gives back. For example, if Amy Purdy can win the Olympics and lead a great life, then I am pretty sure this may be my answer. Were you amputated below the knee? How long was the recovery? Pain free? I bet your able to do so much more than most of the stories in this blog and that is why I am considering it. I also am very surprised that there has never been a topic that covers these injuries on a national level. These foot injuries are life changing and people just don't understand how it truly affects one behind closed doors. I truly believe this needs to be a topic addressed like on Dr. Oz or the Doctors for all of us that have truly struggled beyond what most people imagine to the point of contemplating an amputation and seeking advice from others like yourself.
Also, please tell me your age when you opted for the amputation and when did you get to the point where you were very satisfied with your life after this surgery?
Thank you in advance :)

February 8, 2016 - 3:34pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to April Star Granier)

Oh, please consider amputation. To quickly answer your questions . . . I was 39 when I shattered my ankle and 41 when I had my leg amputated below the knee. In those two years, everyone did everything they could to get me walking (13 surgeries, pic line, vac unit, heavy antibiotics for over 9 months) but the infection was relentless. I am an elementary Art teacher with over 350 students and had LOTS of input, help, and support. When the time came for me to finally face a decision between amputation and another radically iffy surgery with no promise of true quality of life, so many people COULD NOT accept my willingness to accept amputation. People have a WEIRD knee-jerk reaction that it is better to have your "real" leg than a prosthetic one--even if it means you will live in constant pain with no mobility. It took one lovely visit with a female amputee for my daughters, husband, and I to envision what an amputee life looked like, and to finally sign up for the amputation surgery. What a blessing. I threw a "farewell to the leg" party to thank my leg for being so faithful and to say goodbye. By the morning of the surgery, I was all too excited to start a new pain-free, mobility-full life! After 2.5 months of recovery, I had my prosthesis fitted and never looked back. It is basically something you incorporate into your lifestyle and manage. By the way, most people would never know I am an amputee. I walk, dance, hike, mountain climb, etc. However, running, going up and down stairs, and ice skating is possible but not the "best look." :)

When I first fell off the ladder, I started a blog to keep people informed (it was too hard for my husband to have to repeat the story over and over!). Little did I know that my journey would end in amputation. However, it has been an unexpected answer to prayer. I blogged a few times a week for almost two years but the day I got my leg, I never blogged again! I was too busy getting back to living!

In it, you can see the journey, emotional highs and lows, and recovery process. Hang in there! It gets better!

February 8, 2016 - 5:15pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I am facing this decision. Trying to contact you.

May 14, 2016 - 6:46pm
EmpowHER Guest

I just had my ankle fused Nov. 18 2015 . I just came out the cast this Mon. I'm in severe pain when I walk in the boot. I wanted to know if anyone else has experienced this also? If this is normal untill i build up mussel .

February 3, 2016 - 7:20am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I had my ankle fused Dec. 3, 2015. I never had a cast due to history of Chronic infections. I was walking 4 weeks later in boot and then a week later started weight bearing. Just found out my subtalar joint was messed up. Tried cortisone. No help. Options are fusion or replacement. I'm only 32 so orthopaedic says I'm too young. I have horrible pain everyday but not in the fused site...

June 21, 2016 - 7:05pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Sorry to hear this, I am 29 yrs old and in excellent physical shape (was I guess haha) I had an ankle fusion in October of 2015 due to an on duty related motorcycle accident. My Dr said he never saw anyone's bones fuse together so fast after the surgery and told me I should be healed up and ready to walk and even run quickly. It is June 2016 now and I can barely walk still because of the pain. I have had way to many injections in my ankle for pain relief and they will not give me anymore this year!! I am on tons of meds that do not help one bit, so I usually don't take them because I don't like to be on pill cocktails around my two sons. I am in the process of trying to get my work comp insurance to pay for an IDEO brace (which I heard works miracles!) but they are giving me the run around. I can't tell you how many times I have thought about chopping my own foot off due to the pain. It is constant and I feel like it will never go away. Mornings are the worst and I dread waking up in the am because I know eventually I will have to walk on it.
I would never ever recommend getting an ankle fusion!
Good luck to all

June 19, 2016 - 7:54pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

HI, I had my fusion done on the 2\12/15 was 6 weeks in a cast then 6 more weeks in a boot, using both crutches. When I went back for my 3 month check up, I'd expected to come out of the boot and start physio. I'm still in alot of pain and can't walk unaided in the boot for long without severe pain in my Heel,(strange considering I've had pain in my ankle for 14 years not my heal), but the ankle /foot does still swell and is painful after walking for 10mins. My Dr told me I would have to spend another 12 weeks in the boot, ie: 6 weeks weaning off the crutches and 6 weeks weaning off the boot. I have to question this process as my ankle is healing as expected, so I don't quite understand being in a boot for nearly 6 months. How long were you told you would have to wear a boot. I had my op in Ireland, where did you get yours.

February 27, 2016 - 5:55am
Justin2016 (reply to Anonymous)

I had my fusion done on the 16th of December in St James, Dublin. Similar situation to you in that I went for my 3 month review expecting the boot to come off and was told to keep it on for another 3 months due to pain. I can walk fine for short periods but if I'm on it too long it starts to get sore. Like you, I wasn't expecting to still be in a boot.
Surgery went well, almost no swelling afterwards. Aircast boot from the beginning. Complete bed rest with the ankle up high for 7 weeks (long weeks) Couch for another 5 weeks then began to weight bear while still in an aircast boot.
Let me know if you have any questions. Hope you're not letting it get to you too much. Fight, don't let it win is how I am trying to take it now, not easy.

April 12, 2016 - 2:36am
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