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double ankle fusion OR one fusion and one replacement

davidreadavidrea Posts: 3
edited 30. Jul 2014, 16:52 in Living with Arthritis archive
Hi everyone - I'm new to this (but not to ankle problems) so I hope you will excuse my uncertainty, and that you will provide some hard information and advice based on your experiences. I'm 67, and have had ankle / foot problems since age 12. About 10 years ago I'd exhausted all options for my right ankle (special footwear, leg iron brace, injections etc) and had the ankle fused. Brilliant for removing all pain, but a bit limiting for walking up stairs & similar. Driving was ok once I'd mastered rocking the foot forward and back from the knee to control the accelerator.

My left ankle has been deteriorating in recent years, and last year became rapidly worse. I didn't want to go down the brace and boot route (diabetic so skin lesions or sores on the feet are not good news) so my local hospital referred me to Guys, where last October I had a sub-talar fusion. The fusion itself has worked well, and the foot has been repositioned excellently (looks straighter than I have ever seen it) but the remaining movement in the ankle is painful and very limited.

The surgeons at Guys & St Thomas have offered me either a full fusion of the left, so I will have both ankles completely fused; or a replacement ankle on the left. The main worry with the replacement is that it may only last about 5 years, and then need substantial surgery to fuse the joint- when I would be 72.

So to the point at last - is there anyone out there who has had double ankle fusions, and who would advise honestly and frankly about good and bad aspects? How do you cope with steep stairs or slopes? How much impact does it have on your knees and hips / back pain? Then the million dollar question - anyone had a replacement ankle fitted when they already had a fused one? How has that worked? Did the strain of a fused ankle make the replacement one operate badly or wear out more quickly? Were you able to recover enough muscle strength to make the replacement ankle work properly ie 'with a spring in your step'?

I look forward to some advice and real experience. Regards. David


  • stickywicketstickywicket Posts: 26,000 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi David and welcome to the forum. Ankle fusions and replacements are becoming more common but we still don't have very many on here who have had either let alone both. From what I've read they do seem quite successful though. My own ankles have fused themselves but that's after many years of RA. As I have it in virtually all other joints I don't do stairs much and, when I do, it has to be one at a time because of the other joints. I do have problems with downward slopes – I gather speed as I go :lol: My solution is to tackle them sideways on.

    I found some former threads which might be of interest to you. The first is about fusions and the second replacements. Good luck in your decision making :)



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  • barbara12barbara12 Posts: 20,945 ✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello David and welcome to the forum..
    Gosh you have had a life with that ankle and now the other is playing up, I am so sorry the fusion is painful, have they said that is it ,there is no more they can do..I'm afraid I wont be much help, but the majority of people on here have had fusions...I see that SW has given you the links to some, I do wish you well with whatever you decide
  • Smig100Smig100 Posts: 26
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Well all I can say is had ankle fusion 2012 and it is great no pain at all . Took about a year for me to feel right. Had ankle replacement done three and a half weeks ago and am 50per cent weight bearing coming on really well my surgeon said a fusion and a replacement is a good combination. A replacement can last 10to20 years or even longer depends how you look after it.replacements have come on so much in the last few years I am glad I have had mine done.
  • davidreadavidrea Posts: 3
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    thank you very much Smig100, very helpful. I hope the recovery continues well.

    May I ask how old you are, and how active your life style is? I'm 67 and 13 1/2 stone at 6ft 1". I live in the country, and have tried to keep active around a field we own next to the house. My surgeon has doubts about how much I could do on uneven ground, up & down slopes etc without bashing the replacement, if we go that way. This is why he has predicted 5 years use rather than the 10 or more that the literature suggests.

    May I also ask if you have any other contacts that have had double fusions or fusion + replacement? Or even just people who themselves may know other contacts. I'm still hoping to chat with someone who has had the combo for some years, or who has lived with double fusion for a while.

    Best wishes
  • Smig100Smig100 Posts: 26
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I am 57 weight 15stones and I was a plasterer but I will have to look for some thing else. Don't know what yet but I am a half full glass person so some thing will turn up .hope all goes well for you.
  • Smig100Smig100 Posts: 26
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I am six foot tall hope all this helps
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