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

Rate This

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 Comment129 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I am going in for ankle fusion surgery at the end of august. Had arthritis shaved off my ankle twice in 3 yrs now the last one was only 5 months ago so really not looking forward to even more down time, it's been a long enough road

August 18, 2015 - 7:11am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Hi There
I had my ankle fused in 1981, when I was 18. I smashed it in 10 places. I have a few bone grafts since then because when they do an ankle fusion there is possibility of small pieces of bone not grafting.
My last op was fusing the talovanicular bone to the ankle 5 years ago.
I am now 52 and have been able to lead a normal life. I do get athritus as all the joints downstream of a fused foot will eventually wear out. I was told that due to having a fixed right ankle my hips would also be exposed to abnormal wear and tear.

Its not that bad, there are people far worse off.

August 20, 2015 - 1:06am
EmpowHER Guest

5 years ago I fractured my right ankle and again 3 years ago. I always wear a brace but, the pain is always there and is getting unbearable. At last weeks doctor visit, I was given a short boot. It's suppose to mimic how I will feel after the ankle fusion!? I'm really afraid of this surgery not only for the down time but, I've been reading that some surgeries don't even work!? It all scares me!!

August 17, 2015 - 8:50am
EmpowHER Guest

I was thrown from a horse 15 years ago. I broke my right leg in four places and crushed the ankle. I am about to undergo my 9th operation. I have already had one joint fused, but now I have to have the remainder joints fused. I have tried and tried to put this option off, but the pain is getting so bad I don't have any other option. I am having the surgery Sept. 1, 2015 and my doctor is telling me I will be non-weight bearing for ten weeks. Ugh! Not something I am looking forward to. When I think about being in a cast and on crutches I get a sick feeling in my stomach.

August 13, 2015 - 10:17am
EmpowHER Guest

I had a car accident back in November of 2009, where I fractured my talus bone, along with many other injuries. I went through subtalar fusion August 27, 2014, with high hopes all would go well. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The screw that was placed began to back out more than an inch within the first 2 months after surgery. I had that removed in January of 2015. Since then I have discovered the bones are not fusing and I will need to go through the surgery again, this time using bone grafts from my hip as opposed to donor bone. I am looking at another 10 weeks non-weight bearing as well as the physical therapy and other healing involved. My upcoming surgery is scheduled for August 28, 2015. I'd love some feedback on more positive results than I have had. It was hard going through it the first time, I am struggling with the thought of doing it again.

August 6, 2015 - 8:27pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi my name is Tiago, I'm 23 I've had a major road traffic accident, broke my leg wich later made my ankle go trough a fusion due to an infection. I've had the surgery on the 4 of April, I'm still using the boot and crutches.. After a while it hurts if I try to walk.. My next doctor appointment is 10th September. I would just like to now any kinds of information.. Also I'm eager to start working. This time will be a job where I'll be sitting most of the time.. How long will I still need to recover?

July 14, 2015 - 4:04am
EmpowHER Guest

My sub taylar fusion involved a bone graft from my knee and two screws. It was done in September 2014 and has gone exactly to plan. The crutches were a pain & I seemed to be wearing that boot for ever, but now I have no pain in my ankle at all. My little toe can be painful but I think that is from not using my foot for so long and some nerve damage. The surgeon said recovery would be a year and I'm certainly walking and cycling. I think the op was a great success and I would advise anybody in constant pain to do the same.

June 18, 2015 - 5:27am
EmpowHER Guest

Hello. I had a subtaylar fusion back in 1985. The Dr. took bone from my hip and fused it into my ankle. Back then they used staples to try to hold the joint together. Well now 30 years later I have a failed fusion and broken staples littering the joint. I can walk but if for instance I mow the lawns Saturday I crawl Sunday. Standing seems to be worse than walking. The Dr. wants to refuse the subtaylar on both feet now and get all the broken staples out. The sad part of my story is I cannot afford to take that much time off of work. I am a father of a 2 and 5 year old and live check to check. I'm not sure what to do, I told my wife if I won the lotto I'd schedule the surgery the same day :-(

June 16, 2015 - 11:24am
EmpowHER Guest

I am re-posting (original posts 14 June 2014 and 5 January 2015).

I am really sorry to read of the ongoing problems that so many of you are having after your subtalar fusions. My outcome has been amazingly life-changing - I am no longer in pain, I have recently completed an event similar to Tough Mudder; I've climbed Mount Snowdon, climbed, abseilled, hiked, returned to playing squash and tennis.... OK, there is some restriction in the foot and I would not be able to play these sports at a highly competitive level, but I am more than able to play recreationally. I have been able to enjoy an active family life with my two sons.

I just wanted to offer a positive perspective to those considering the surgery. One piece of advice I would give is to find the right surgeon - many surgeons accept 'functional' outcomes rather than recognising the importance of quality of life. I was fortunate enough to be referred to one of the top Surgeons in the country who treats Premier league footballers, England rugby players and Cricketers (I am in the UK) and, as I say, the outcome exceeded all expectations.

I tried to post some other words of encouragement in my earlier posts so please do go back and look at those if you have the time (original posts 14 June 2014 and 5 January 2015).

June 13, 2015 - 1:26pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Hi! Thank you for your post! Can you share who the doctor was that did your fusion? My husband is facing this surgery in the early winter and we are looking for a good (best) doctor to do this.
Thank you!

August 13, 2015 - 8:15pm
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.


3629 Health


2219 Lives


2069 Lives
8 lives impacted in the last 24 hrs Learn More

Take Our Featured Health Poll

Who do you trust for making healthy living/lifestyle choices? :
View Results