Ankle fusion is a surgical procedure that combines the bones of your ankle into one piece. Ankle arthrodesis is another name for it. No one will ever want to fuse their ankle if it becomes essential! Typically the fusion is done to treat ankle arthritis. But many of us want to know ankle fusion recovery stories before doing our own surgery. So here we have shared ten patients’ recovery stories who have done ankle fusion before!
Recovery Stories After Ankle Fusion
Ankle fusion is a surgical procedure that joins two or more bones in the ankle. This alleviates the discomfort and edema. The surgeon will create an incision in your ankle to work on the joint. The bones will be compressed and secured with plates, nails, screws, or other metal. Your doctor may also use a bone transplant to help the bones heal together. Minimally invasive surgery can be used to do ankle fusions in some circumstances. A smaller incision and a tiny camera are used to assist with the surgery.
I’ve had very bad systemic arthritis for a long time, leading to many orthopedic surgeries, especially on my ankles. Before each ankle surgery, the pain in the bad ankle was so bad that I couldn’t go for walks, sometimes couldn’t even walk a block, and would never go back to an aisle in a store to get something I forgot. I spent hours putting ice packs on my feet, propping them up, limiting my activities, cutting back on my work (mostly done on my feet), taking ibuprofen, and talking to orthopedists. I’ve had three major surgeries on my right ankle and two on my left since 2002. In 2016, six months apart, I got one on each ankle. So, let’s talk about Dr. Demetracopoulos at HSS. I met him for the first time in 2015. I went to him because I was once again very worried about problems with both ankles and wasn’t sure that what my Boston surgeon, Dr. Anne Johnson, suggested (a heel osteotomy and a cleaning out of my joint) would help me feel better. She came up with this idea because she didn’t want to fuse a second joint in that foot until she had to.
At my first appointment with Dr. Demetracopoulos, I was very impressed because, unlike many other orthopedists I had seen, he took his time to look at me carefully and my x-rays and also listened to my story. Then he kindly told the truth. It turned out that he worked with Dr. Johnson and liked her a lot. He thought she had a good point of view and a good idea for how to treat my right ankle. After seeing my film, he also said he was worried that my left ankle, which had been replaced in 2007, was about to break. This surprised me since it didn’t hurt. He said that since the pain in my right ankle was so bad, I should have Dr. Johnson operate on it and return to him in six months for surgery on my left ankle. In his opinion he told me not to wait too long on the left ankle because the old prosthesis could wear through the bone.
I went with what he told me to do. I had surgery on my right ankle in April 2016 with Dr. Johnson in Boston, and I had surgery on my left ankle with Dr. Demetracopoulos at HSS in October 2016. Before the surgery on Dr. D’s left ankle, he didn’t know if he could replace the joint or if he would have to fuse it. I’d have to let him decide that during the surgery. I was fine with this because I trusted and had a lot of faith in him.
Having two surgeries in a year wasn’t easy, but they were well worth it. These doctors helped me live again. Since then, I haven’t had much or any pain in either ankle, and both work very well and don’t make me walk funny at all. I can travel, work on my feet, walk, do easy hiking, kayak, take care of my house, and enjoy a good dancing party. I am very grateful to both doctors for their skill, care, and personal attention. Dr. Johnson just moved to HSS, which is great for me because now both of my great doctors are in the same office. I recommend either one or both of them.
In April 2015, I broke both my tibia and my fibula, which is called a compound fracture. I had surgery right away, and seven months later, my doctor told me that I wasn’t getting better and needed an ankle replacement or fusion. I spent the next year hoping he was wrong, but I couldn’t walk any better, which hurt a lot. I had to walk with crutches and a cane. I went to the PA doctor who was suggested, but he was too eager to replace my ankle, and I didn’t feel right about something.
When you walk around with crutches, people talk to you about your condition. Everyone I spoke to kept telling me how great HSS was. I had to try it out because this was too big of a choice not to. I found Dr. Demetracopoulos. When I met him, I felt at ease right away. I knew I was in good hands, and I didn’t think he was forcing me to have a procedure. We decided on an ankle fusion after talking about the pros and cons.
In February 2017, I had surgery to fuse my ankle. I could walk without pain and a cane after some physical therapy. I had pain for two years, but after Dr. Demetracopoulos operated on me, I can now walk everywhere. I’m a mother of three, I have a full-time job, and I’m on my own again.
Due to an ankle fusion, you can’t put weight on one foot for three months. This is a real kick in the pants. Imagine how I felt when using a scooter, crutches, and a stair lift and then found out that it all went wrong. After 18 painful months, my first surgeon in New Hampshire told me it was a “non-union” and that I could either have it done again, going back to the beginning, or wear a metal brace for the rest of my life (That meant forever because I asked). I tried to be brave, but my cheeks felt like they would fall off.
My only real choice was the first one, but I researched and chose the best hospital this time. When I met with Dr. Demetracopoulos, my worries about going through that again turned into confidence that we had come to the right place. Dr. “D’s” calm personality, dark hair, tall, strong build, and skill made me think of Superman. When he did my second surgery, he proved it. He removed the extra bone that had grown and replaced the two broken and loose staples with a plate and screws that would hold better.
Eight months have passed since my second fusion, and it is improving. Easily I go up and down the many steps in our old New England Victorian. When we’re in Florida, I can take daily walks in the sun and wear normal shoes again, and I had put them in the back of my closet for two years. My son-in-wife laws saw how much Dr. Demetracopoulos helped me and was so impressed that she is coming from Dallas to have him fix her bad ankle this summer. HSS is the best for a reason. They chose the best doctors, and I was lucky enough to get one of them. To me, he happens to look like Clark Kent.
Another doctor at HSS told me to see Dr. Demetracopoulos. When we met for the first time, Dr. Demetracopoulos was very interested in helping me get better. After surgery, my ankle joint fell apart, which caused me a lot of pain. He said that I should have my ankles fused because of my age. At the time, ankle joints that could be replaced were not a good option.
Dr. Demetracopoulos did the ankle fusion. He was worried that the pain I was still having after the fusion and physical therapy was different from what most people experience. He thought I might have a disease called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Then he told me to talk to Dr. Kramskiy.
When I first met Dr. Kramskiy, I was surprised by his concern about my health. Because he cared about people, I felt very comfortable working with him. He agreed with what Dr. Demetracopoulos had said. From then on, I worked with both doctors to eliminate the pain in my ankle.
I still see both doctors and feel like I’m in good hands with them. Some of the best doctors I’ve ever seen are among them. Their staff is friendly, helpful, and, most of all, caring.
The people who work there answer the phone and make it easy for me to deal with my insurance. Everyone in both offices wants me to get better, and they are doing everything they can to make it happen.
A left ankle with arthritis had bone chips floating around in the joint. When a bone chip pinched a nerve, the pain was about a nine on a scale of 1 to 10. The ankle fusion fixed the problem perfectly, and now arthritis in that ankle no longer hurts. I can’t run anymore because of the five two-inch screws in my ankle, but at least I can walk normally without pain. While their parents are at work, my wife and I take care of our granddaughters. This is no longer a painful chore. Dr. David S. Levine, thank you!
Remember all the recovery stories after ankle fusion. Take all of your follow-up appointments. This is so that your doctor can track how you’re doing. You might need a few months of physical therapy, and this will help you keep your ankle and leg strength. It could be a few months before you can do everything you used to. Make sure to do everything your doctor tells you to do with your medicines, wounds, and exercises. This will help ensure that your surgery goes well and leads a quality life after ankle fusion.
- All the recovery stories after ankle fusion is collected from- https://backinthegame.hss.edu