Need Advice on Ankle Fusion

Cliff note version: I’m getting an ankle fusion and could use advice from people who have done a fusion. Questions at the bottom

A little back story. In 2006 I was in a bad car accident which shattered my ankle along with many other broken bones. After 7 days in the hospital, 6 months off work, and 3 surgeries I was settling into my new normal.

Now at 40 and dealing with constant pain since the accident my ankle has begun getting noticeably worse. I was lifting 4-5 days a week and hitting legs 2-3 of those days. I’m no super beast but could comfortably sumo squat 6x5 at 450lbs so on a bad ankle I was happy.

In February after moving a couch I suddenly had a significant amount of pain and had to stop all leg pressing exercises. I’ve seen a couple surgeons who reviewed the lengthy list of issues with the anklke and they agree I only have 2 options: 1) ankle fusion, 2) continue to suck it up buttercup.

As you probably have guessed I’ve decided to fuse the ankle. With the increase in pain, already hitting all my medical deductibles, and my office will likely be working from home for the rest of the summer it feels like the right time to get my ankle issues addressed. To be honest I’m nervous about getting this done but ready to reduce the daily pain

I could use advice from anyone who has gone through this. Some advice I’m seeking is:

  1. recovery tips
  2. pain management
  3. how long before you walk with manageable pain
  4. what limitations do you notice

Are you consulting with a physical therapist/physiotherapist?

You’re going to need professional guidance about pre and post-op care, as well as expected level of function post-op

They do therapy in the same office but I will ask about the details of therapy during the pre op appointment.

I already have a very limited ROM so I hopefully won’t lose a lot from where I currently am. The surgeon and I have had 2 long conversations about what things will be like after. I’m definitely nervous since this is a big step

I also will be going in for an ankle fusion in early July. From 2 motorcycle accidents 25-30 years ago. Both involved surgeries and having hardware installed. The 2 nd one also involved a Tib / Fib bone graft . The shots don’t work real good any more. He will be fusing the Tibia to the bone below it.
My Doc says I will be able to squat after the procedure. I already use a heel - toe shifter on my bike, so that movement will be OK

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This is a relevant article by the world’s best musculoskeletal physician:

In summary, don’t get a fusion, as the force that your ankle used to absorb will be transmitted to other joints and cause problems. If you can afford it, get a stem cell treatment instead.

It’s not surprising that Regenexx recommends stem cell treatments over ankle fusion . - Their business is stem cell treatments

It’s not surprising that Regenexx recommends stem cell treatments over ankle fusion . - Their business is stem cell treatments

It’s not surprising that your othopedic surgeon recommends orthopedic surgery over stem cell treatements—his business is orthopedic surgery. Why don’t you get on pubmed and do some research on the success of stem cell treatments for treating joint injuries and osteoarthritis? In 10-20 years it will be the standard of care. Fusion is IRREVERSIBLE.

I thought it was time for an update on the surgery results. for any one considering having the procedure -
I had the procedure on July 26. I have been walking, full weight bearing, with an orthopedic boot for over a month . I am now walking with a lace up work boot, I use a cane some times. The Doc doesn’t want the ankle un supported , like with a sneaker - I wore Chucks alot , but not now.
The pain level is much, much, less the prior to the surgery, just a slight soreness after I’m on my feet for a while,( with no ibuprofen ) Before it hurt to walk , If I squatted, I would limp for a couple - 3 days
I got back into the weight room 3 weeks post -op - upper body stuff - I’m ready to start squatting, I have tried body weight squats off a high box, that felt fine
I will start with a bare bar and go from there.
I will turn 70 next month so my healing might be slower then y’all .
Bottom line - I’m glad I got the surgery.

I’ve seen guys with a fused ankle run short distances, albeit pretty awkwardly lol. You’ll be fine

Thanks - It feels like it should work pretty good.