/ Arthritic ankle needs surgery

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froggattedge 29 Nov 2019

I injured my ankle nearly 30 years ago. It was a soft tissue injury and, despite several operations and every therapy you can think of, I now have ‘severe end-stage arthritis’. I have put off fusion surgery for years in the hope that replacements would become more robust. I have been seeing an Orthopaedic surgeon in Sheffield (Chris Blundell) and I now have two options on offer, fusion or replacement. Can anyone out there share their experiences of either please. I climb regularly (badly, but that’s not hugely related to my ankle stiffness and pain!) and enjoy hillwalking. Sorry to replicate this post on two forums, but I’m also posting this on hill talk. 
Thanks

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Nigel Coe 01 Dec 2019
In reply to froggattedge:

Are you sure you've exhausted less invasive treatment? Denise Hill's column in Fellrunner magazine  often describes runners who had been recommended surgery but who responded well to physiotherapy. See https://www.deniseparkphysio.co.uk/Testimonials.html
Good luck! Please post how you get on with whatever route you take - the broken ankle from my fall off the climbing wall over 40 years ago is beginning to catch up with me!

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the abmmc 01 Dec 2019
In reply to froggattedge:

My wife had fusion surgery a year ago on 5th December 2018, to fuse the up down movement of the foot.  A year ago she couldn't walk from our bedroom to the living room without being in agony.  Going shopping was a thing of the past.  After the operation, the surgeon said that her arthritis had caused a lot of damage and she must have been in excruciating pain.  Me, I'd have been yelling non stop.  Carmen, she pulled her face in a wincing silent fashion.  Going out walking our dog or wild camping or bothying was also something I neve thought we'd do again.  Post surgery, and the very long rehab, she's now pain free.  She was at Zumba twice this week, she gets irritated that she can't jump around like she used to, but again this is pain free.  Next weekend we're going bothying with some friends and their dogs.  Happy days indeed.  The surgery can clearly work, but be prepared for a long rehab, including six weeks of non weight bearing on that leg.  Great tip we got from a friend was to get a commode for those six weeks, with a strict proviso that it was for no 1s only.  Work faithfully with the physio that rehabs you.  Good luck.

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bergfuhrer 02 Dec 2019
In reply to froggattedge:

10 yrs ago I had fusion which resulted in almost no flexion in any direction. Found it impossible to put on rigid boots for winter, as foot could not be pointed to get it in. Actual winter climbing seemed OK but could not crampon downhill. So have given up winter.

Rock climbing seems fine except smearing to gain height by pointing foot and toe.

Virtually pain free now. Was offered a joint but was told they were technically still experimental at the time.

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froggattedge 04 Dec 2019
In reply to Nigel Coe:

Thanks Nigel. I have clocked up more physio hours than I can count. I’ll definitely have a look at this article though.

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froggattedge 04 Dec 2019
In reply to the abmmc:

That’s very encouraging. May I ask how old Carmen is? My ankle has over the years nearly fused itself and I walk badly particularly uphill, where I have to resort to walking on the ball of my foot. Does Carmen have to do this post operatively? I appreciate that there will still be some lateral movement and that other foot joints can compensate a little, but with the main joint fused there is surely no dorsiflexion?

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froggattedge 04 Dec 2019
In reply to bergfuhrer:

I’ve been hanging on because that’s what I was told 10 years ago too. Replacements have apparently got more robust but I’m not sure how much data there is for those wishing a pretty active life post op. Presumably rockovers are also problematic? How do you manage on the hill?

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DWS gibraltar 15:43 Thu
In reply to froggattedge:

Over the years I’ve have Brocken both ankles twice left twist twice I’ve also Brocken my hip  and had a knee dislocation.The surgeon told me I have arthritis and shouldn’t probably climb 😂

Try losing weight  a dietary change may help go vegi or vegan and take serapeptase it reduces inflammation.Some people take weed or cannabis oil for pain relief. I’m still going strong and  enjoy climbing as much as ever.

Post edited at 15:45
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bergfuhrer 13:55 Fri
In reply to froggattedge:

Walking down hill an issue as it is not possible to put the foot flat on the slope. The heel often slips away. Hence not safe to crampon downhill.

Rock limits become obvious as you cannot bring the foot up towards the shin for high steps, nor point the toes for extra height. Smearing is difficult if not impossible on that foot.

Otherwise virtually pain free.

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pete osullivan 15:10 Fri
In reply to the abmmc:

When I had my ankle fused in 2014 I was told it was 12 weeks non load bearing and I had to stay pretty much in bed upstairs next to the loo for the entire time.  I would recommend having it done in February if you can negotiate with your surgeon as by the time you are able to walk it is Spring and one's spirits are lifted immediately. 

Post edited at 15:11
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the abmmc 15:55 Fri
In reply to froggattedge:

Carmen is 56 years old.  She did a lot of cross training and quite a bit of hillwalking when she was younger, but all that had to stop given the pain she was experiencing.  Physio was hard for her after the operation as it was so slow for any improvement in her mind.  the physio seemed chuffed though.  We've done a few walks now along valleys (5 miles was the longest) but not really walked up any height yet.  She feels okay going uphill but still struggling with downhill.  I see bergfuhrer's comments below about walking downhill being difficult.   I guess she'll find her limit at some point as she keeps increasing what she's doing.  It's been great this week to share how excited she is about going away for a night, reasonably safe in her knowledge that she's going to be pain free. 

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