Anyone riding with a fused ankle?

Discussion in 'Canada' started by gbx2001, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. gbx2001

    gbx2001 Geophiz Supporter

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    I severely broke my right ankle 20+ years ago in a hiking accident (rotated ~120deg), and it took 2 years and 3 surgeries before I could walk again, albeit with very limited range of motion. Over recent years,my ankle has become increasingly stiff, with reduced ROM and increased pain leading to recent visits to 2 local orthopedic surgeons. Independently they provided the same diagnosis: my ankle is severely worn and should be fused.

    Ankle fusion like spinal fusion is permanent, and while it might reduce my ankle pain, it might also shift stress to other parts of my body, such as knees, hips and lower spine.

    Artificial ankle joint replacement technology lags technology for knees and hips, but some CDN ortho surgeons are now replacing ankles, and I hope to meet with one in the months ahead to discuss how feasibile a replacement ankle would be for me.

    I currently ride a 990 Adventure, and love it, and hope to ride for years to come. I am interested to receive feedback from any other riders who have received ankle fusions or ankle replacements and learn from your experiences to supplement the medical feedback I've received.

    Thanks in advance for any feedback provided!
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    Dan Diego likes this.
  2. simbaboy

    simbaboy Lansing MBS Supporter

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    Good luck with your decision. Wish you the best.
    I would also strongly recommend that you consider one of the megascooters for continued riding. Go test ride a Burgman 650 scooter--it has all the touring power you need but is so much fun and stable and effortless in traffic. You can get a used one for very reasonable prices.
    Simba
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  3. Velocipede

    Velocipede Been here awhile

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    I broke my ankle in 87 and have had a lot of pain with it since then.According to the latest X-Rays I have no more cartilage in the joint and the bones are just grinding together and wearing out.I read on line some months ago about a procedure that is being done in the UK that is having a lot of success.Basically it involves putting a wedge of wear resistant material in to the joint via the front of the ankle to keep the bones separate,an artificial cartilage I guess.I went to see a specialist in January to see what could be done,my only option he said was to have my ankle fused.I would rather handle the pain than to have a solid immovable ankle joint.When I mentioned the procedure being done in the UK that was the end of the discussion as he had never heard of it and was unable to talk about it.
    One more point,I met an American guy in Baja four years ago who had had the same problem,a painful ankle joint due to breakage.He very much regretted having his ankle fused and wished he had just put up with the pain and discomfort.
    John
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  4. Hollyr

    Hollyr Vesterislendingur Supporter

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    Same story here. Old injury and all the doctors said to fuse it. That would involve missing a whole riding season and there is no guarantee that the bones will fuse properly. I refused and they offered a leather brace instead. It costs $1200 but my insurance paid most of that. It is amazing the difference it has made. Got it just before Christmas and it will be a couple of months before the snow and salt are gone so haven't ridden with it yet. I did have to throw out most of my shoes and boots. After much searching, I found lace up boots with a side zipper that will go on over the brace. I'm planning on lots of riding this summer with a lot less pain!
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  5. headtube

    headtube Been here awhile

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    Not fused but very limited movement.

    Back in 84 I had some bad luck in the form of a car doing a u-turn right in front of me. I was on a VF1000 Honda Interceptor... 70 KM. BANG! Right foot crushed between the bike and a front bumper. Doctor said it was akin to having someone use a sledgehammer on it. I spent 8 months in recovery learning to walk again. Long story short I live with the pain. Eat painkillers like candy when needed. Foot was never the same, and 1-1/2" shorter! They had to rebuilt it. I'm lucky, because my mind has adjusted to living with this for over 30 years.

    GBX... Sounds like you had a very bad break. Continue to seek out new medical expertise. I believe medical science is closing in on repairing ankle joints. Don't give up. You'll find the right doctor. Keep riding.
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  6. gbx2001

    gbx2001 Geophiz Supporter

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    Thanks for your feedback - I appreciate your replies.

    As mentioned above, in 2015 I have seen two orthopedic surgeons and both provided feedback that a fused ankle was my only option and I felt quite bummed about proceding in that direction. The second ortho said though that he had a colleague he thought would be interested to review my x-rays and asked for permission to show them, but I did not expect to hear anything further.

    A few days ago I received a call from a third orthopedic surgeon's office asking if I was available to make a recently cancelled appointment the next day. He reviewed my x-rays, and after some background discussion, offered a third option - an ankle replacement, now in its 3rd generation. Like all replacement joints, these have a limited lifespan, but the previous version lasted more than 10 years for most recipients, and the latest version is designed to have worn parts replaceable.

    I am in no rush to have surgery, but this procedure sounds more promising than an ankle fusion, and I am reviewing the information provided to me. Hopefully more Canadian surgeons will offer this (or better) alternatives in the near future.

    Like many of you i have learned to live with the ankle pain, but 20+ years of poor leg "mechanics" are becoming evident and taking a toll on my knee and hip, and might ultimately be the driver for my decision. As the saying goes, "getting old is not for wusses".

    Thanks again. Now back to motorcycles!
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  7. rburkat

    rburkat Been here awhile

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    Well I'm in the same boat as you guys. Broke my ankle cycling 15 years ago, took 3 surgeries to get it together right, and at the end they fused my tib/fib bones above the joint, but not the joint. This limit my range a bit but still movable. They did tell me that eventually I might require full fusion due to things wearing out.
    It's not getting worse bit by bit but I make due with it.
    Hope they can come up with something in the near future.
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  8. Hollyr

    Hollyr Vesterislendingur Supporter

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    Please keep us in the loop if/when you go ahead with the replacement. If I may ask, where are you located and who is the surgeon doing it? Might need to know that soon...
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  9. Dan Diego

    Dan Diego Long timer

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    Similar story. Broke my ankle pretty bad 30 years ago. 5 years ago it really started bothering me.

    Have been getting regular cortisone shots since then, with varying degrees of effectiveness. The cortisone stopped working for more than 2-3 weeks.

    My next options are a minor cut & scrape surgery to remove a spur causing arthritic pain and the fusing procedure.

    Like most have said, I'm wary of what the fusing will do and will only consider it as a last option.

    Have been eating Naproxin and ibuprofen like candy for the past 2 years. Am hoping the minor procedure will result in a little comfort, but who knows...
    #9
  10. FINNDIAN

    FINNDIAN Mine goes to 11

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    Broke my mine bad 22 years ago. Always gave me pain off and on. (Plate and 10 screws still in there)
    About 7 years ago it was getting really bad. Saw the doc and he said there is no use doing anything as it will need to be fused or replaced in the next five years. It's been steadily improving since and is better now than it was 20 years ago. Strange. Good to hear about the riding experiences though as I'm sure the day will come to make the decision. Pivot pegs may help the riding though.

    Sent from my SM-G900W8 using Tapatalk
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  11. turn_one

    turn_one Been here awhile

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    Glad I happened upon this.

    I broke my talus (right below the ankle) in a climbing fall 2 years ago. Can't climb, run or walk for very long distances now. Hurts just standing most of the time. Visited the doc just last week for his conclusion after many scans and cortisone shots to isolate the pain. He says I'll need fusion as well.

    Seems like there's so many options for any type of knee injury but foot issues are lagging way behind that tech curve. I did hear from a doc that the newest ankle replacement options were better than previous versions but that won't work for my injury...may work for yours.

    I'm choosing not to fuse. I, like another poster don't have any cartilage (in my sub-talar joint.) and this bone on bone is causing the pain. I like to surf and ride bikes so for me fusing seems too limiting and may take several more surgeries to get right. I also don't like the 3-4 month down time then PT time before one can get back to life.

    I am looking into cellular replacement procedures which I've heard have had some success in Europe. Until then vitamin I and cortisone will do.

    I hope you find a solution that works for you. I think one needs to be definitely certain that fusion is the only path as it's permanent and offers no guarantees.
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  12. Dan Diego

    Dan Diego Long timer

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    I recently declined the fusion procedure and now have an appointment with a really good orthopedic surgeon for a consult on ankle replacement.

    Same cost, so I'm just looking at what works best. I want to keep doing the stuff I enjoy, and I'm not sure fusion would allow that.

    I'm meeting with the doc in mid-January; will report back on how that goes.
    #12
  13. gbx2001

    gbx2001 Geophiz Supporter

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    My life has been quite hectic since I started this thread, and I have not ( until today) caught up with all the posts and replies, and decided to post an update.

    First, a few comments: I have no medical training, but felt it wise to share some of the info that surgeons shared with me. Despite being very common in today's world, joint replacement should not be taken lightly. Replaced joints require followup on a annual or more frequent basis. If you have a joint replaced you have an elevated risk for infection, and it will be necessary to take antibiotics prior to simple procedures such as dental cleaning appointments for the rest of your life. If you elect to have this surgery I believe you need to have a frank discussion with your surgeon to understand lifestyle changes you will need to make, and the added risks to your health.

    Also, like all surgeries, ankle replacement surgeries carry risks, and infections, DVTs (blood clots) and other serious, potentially deadly conditions.

    In the second half of October I had ankle replacement surgery. My Orthopedic surgeon said my "old" ankle was very arthritic, with 2 very large bone spurs, and very little cartilage left, so it was definitely time for the procedure. I am told the surgery went well (~2.5hrs) and I returned home after 2 nights in hospital. I was on crutches for almost 3 weeks (non-weight bearing on replaced ankle) before removal of my cast, and sutures. My incision looked fine, so I was given approval to start weight bearing on my new ankle.

    I met again with my surgeon 3 weeks later and he gave me the okay to start physiotherapy, which I have attended 3X weekly. I still frequently use a cane when walking outside, but not when inside my home. To supplement my physio I also work out at my gym 3X per week trying to strengthen and increase flexibility in my ankle. No impact-type exercise to date.

    The range of motion (ROM) for my ankle joint has increased significantly from pre-surgery, but my ROM is not yet where I would like it to be. I also try to be realistic that my ankle had degraded over 20 years, so it will take time and perseverance, and a little luck.

    After activity my ankle swells up / stiffens and I need to elevate it for some time before any new exercise can commence. My surgeon advised that stiffness / swelling could exist for up to a year post-surgery so early days yet. My Fitbit says I walked 7500 steps on my most active day so far, but I certainly paid for those steps later.

    Meanwhile, my bike sits in the garage with a leaking fork seal ...
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  14. Dan Diego

    Dan Diego Long timer

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    Most excellent info. Mirrors my situation.

    Big thanks for your perspective.
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  15. Hollyr

    Hollyr Vesterislendingur Supporter

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    Thank you. It doesn't sound as bad as I was imagining. I know I will need to do it eventually but I'm still putting it off as long as possible by wearing a brace. I had to give away my good Sidi boots because I can't bend the braced ankle and still haven't found a good alternative for riding.
    #15
  16. Dan Diego

    Dan Diego Long timer

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  17. Hollyr

    Hollyr Vesterislendingur Supporter

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    Thanks for the link, Dan. That was fascinating and I am definitely going to continue to refuse fusion and wait until I can get that done instead. I only hope my ligaments and tendons weren't too badly damaged for a replacement ankle. They were all ripped out.
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  18. gbx2001

    gbx2001 Geophiz Supporter

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    Hi Dan
    Good to see you found the animation and website I mentioned. My surgeon said these 3rd generation ankle replacements have only been available for 2 years, and are the best currently available.
    Happy Holidays.
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  19. Dan Diego

    Dan Diego Long timer

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    I'm encouraged with the info available.

    Once I sit down with the doc, I can make a more informed decision on which way to go. But so far, I see a full ankle replacement in my future.

    Big thanks for the info.
    #19
  20. lfmn

    lfmn Been here awhile

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    I'm in the same boat. I'm toughing it out because I understand that once you do the fusion, you can't do the replacement and the replacement is no where near ready for prime time.
    #20