The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Patients Share Total Ankle Replacement Stories

Posted by on Friday, July 17th, 2015

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The advancements in total ankle replacement surgery have been highlighted in the media over the last few years, with more and more patients coming forward to explain how a new ankle joint has changed their lives. The experienced board-certified podiatric surgeons at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in New York City do not take ankle surgery lightly, but they have seen countless cases where the benefits of total ankle replacement outweigh the risks. Here are a few stories shared in the media recently about patients whose lives were changed after undergoing this type of ankle surgery.

There are many different types of ankle replacements. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Dave Keller

“I tell people I would do it again tomorrow,” Dave Keller, a former Des Moines, Iowa basketball player, told the press.[1.Estela Villanueva-Whitman, “Total Ankle Replacement Proves ‘Amazing,'” The Des Moines Register, February 28, 2015] At one time, he was the leading scorer for the Simpson College basketball team, but repeat ankle sprains led to arthritis for the now-57-year-old. He received the STAR™ Ankle[2. “Why STAR™ Ankle?” Star Ankle Replacement, accessed July 17, 2015, http://www.staranklereplacement.com/why_star.html] approved by the FDA in 2009 after bone spur cleanup and cortisone shots failed to put the brakes on a year of chronic pain. Before his surgery, he worked on his feet all day running his own screen printing business and found it hard to walk by the day’s end. Keller was a good candidate for surgery because he was motivated and prepared to follow directions for recovery, he was not obese or diabetic, and he wanted to remain active. Though he may need another replacement in the future, the good news is that surgery now reduces stress on surrounding joints and reduces the likelihood of developing arthritis in other parts of the body. He said the first few weeks of recovery with his foot bandaged were a challenge, but he was back to walking in six weeks and has 85-90% of his flexibility back.

Nancy Bryson

“I couldn’t walk on ground unless it was level, and it would just take a small stone or something and my ankle would turn and then I would have swelling and it would turn purple,” a Durham, North Carolina woman explained.[3. “Ankle Replacement Surgery Helps Local Patients,” February 12, 2015, http://abc11.com/health/ankle-replacement-surgery-helps-local-patients/514444/] Two previous injuries led to pain and dysfunction for the patient. When X-rays showed her leg tilted out of alignment and bone rubbing on bone, doctors knew that surgery was the best course of action. She received the INBONE® Total Ankle Replacement[4.”INBONE® Products,” Total Ankle Institute, accessed July 17, 2015, http://www.totalankleinstitute.com/INBONE-Products] which includes two metal components with a plastic piece in between to reduce friction. Now Bryson goes in for annual checkups, but the results have been life-changing. “I went from sitting down a lot of times when we did things to now getting up and being a participant in everything we do,” she said. Her surgeon says most patients with modern implants are going 10 years or more without requiring revision surgery.

Michael Downs

Michael Downs is a 43-year-old former high school and college football player from Louisville, Kentucky who has suffered numerous ankle sprains in his career. “I could just feel it grinding and getting ready to like pop and break at any given time,” he said.[5. Darla Carter, “Ankle Replacement Gives Shot at Pain-Free Life,” The Courier Journal, January 15, 2015] However, after receiving the Zimmer Trabecular Metal Total Ankle[6. “Zimmer® Trabecular Metal™ Total Ankle,” Zimmer, accessed July 17, 2015, http://www.zimmer.com/medical-professionals/products/foot-and-ankle/tm-total-ankle.html] Mr. Downs says he feels like a new man. “The pain is completely gone. I can move my ankle. Oh-ho, it’s unbelievable,” he explained. While older replacement ankles used to be only a consideration for illnesses like arthritis, modern products are being used in younger people who have sustained ankle trauma and suffered tremendous pain as a result. Improvements in design and instrumentation have made it a better option for patients who wish to remain active and reduce the risk of injury to surrounding joints.

Mary Blake

The Courier-Journal also tells the story of 65-year-old Mary Blake of Shelbyville, Kentucky who had her ankle replacement in December 2012 after an ankle fracture and fixation surgery in the early 90’s left her with worsening pain and limited mobility.[7. Darla Carter, “Ankle Replacement Gives Shot at Pain-Free Life,” The Courier Journal, January 15, 2015] “Even a sheet laying on top of it was painful,” she said. “I used to say I wish I could just take this ankle off and twist it and make it better.” The retired state worker and grandmother said the Wright Medical INBONE® II System [8. “INBONE® Products,” Total Ankle Institute, accessed July 17, 2015, http://www.totalankleinstitute.com/INBONE-Products] has led to a “nearly pain-free” life that allows her better choices in footwear and the ability to participate in low-impact activities like water aerobics and treadmill walking. Moving around with a walker for three months and enduring tear-filled physical therapy sessions wasn’t easy, but the ability to move her foot again and stand on her toes is “a wonderful feeling” now, she says.

Charles Soto

Charles Soto is one of the 6,000 patients who undergo an ankle replacement procedure in the United States each year. The Minnesota man shattered his ankle after falling off the second rung of a ladder[9. “More People Considering Ankle Replacement,” Kare 11, accessed July 17, 2015, http://www.kare11.com/story/news/2015/03/13/more-people-considering-ankle-replacement/24727629/] and presumed that an ankle fusion was his only option. “I was so happy to know there was an alternative,” he said. The surgeon removed the diseased bone, created a canal in the tibia and connected the INBONE® Total Ankle System to the existing ankle anatomy. Today, his ankle moves freely and he has zero pain. He is able to do things he used to take for granted before the accident — like driving a car and walking to the mailbox. “I forget I have an ankle replacement,” Soto beams. And when a new lease on life is covered by insurance, how can you go wrong?

Need a new ankle in NYC? Curious about total ankle replacement surgery as an alternative to ankle fusion? Learn more by contacting our experienced staff at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. We can guide you through all of your options for alleviating pain and improving mobility, including — but not limited to — surgery.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.