I have had pain that feels like pins and needles after my ankle fusion surgery. What can help?

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I had ankle surgery on Dec 16, I had a fusion and my Achilles stretched, also a bro graft to straighten my foot. I have had pain especially at night. Pins and needles in my toes and my heal feels like it has been scraped and always hurts, yet I have to rest my foot on it. I got a cold therapy machine and it has been a godsend, as it does make the pain more tolerable. I have heard this could be nerve pain and could continue. I am in a Camo boot and supposed to start weight bearing next week. I'm scared that if it already hurts that weight bearing will make it worse and I won't be able to tolerate. I was taking Advil in the day and do T 3,s at night. I wake up 3-4 times a night with the pain and it just doesn't seem to be getting better. My doc gives no answers just says that some people get more pain than others, but it usually goes away. Will weight bearing be painful? Anyone go through this? When did you return to work- I can't see working in pain and I have long hallways to walk at my job.How long until normal walking without pain will happen?

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    I am 20 weekspost op, and welcome to the nerve ending pain, I still have it in my Big toe and talked to my Dr today and could be up to a year before this will subside. I found ice on back of knee and sleeping in recliner was the only relief I could get. Was put on several nerve pain meds but did not touch it. So I do know exactly what you are going thru. I was in a hard cast for 10 weeks before going into boot, and I never did have any so called pain when weight bearing but the nerve stuff is mind blowing. So hang in there and we will be here for you
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    I had foot and ankle surgery with a mid foot fusion, screws and a bone graft.  I also had my Achilles lengthened. I started to weight bear at 50% and almost passed out from the electrical shock that went from my heal up under the ball of my foot.  It was like getting struck by a bolt of lightening.  I called the doctor and he assured me this is very commo because after being non weight bearing our feet actually need to become desensitized.  So for the past week I slowly ease into adding pressure in the walking boot while standing until I feel the electrical shock and then stand and tolerate it and then ease off.  I do it over and over.  I also rub my foot against different textures.  Today the doctor allowed me to walk with no crutches in the boot.  I never imagined when I felt the shock the first time that I would be able to ever walk or stand.  But my foot has made so much progress and every day the pins and needles get less and less.  Today I was able to walk and I was thrilled that once I stand up and slowly ease the full pressure on my foot to reduce the pins and needles I do not feel them once I start walking.  Doing the work to reduce it is uncomfortable but work thru it and listen to your body.  It will get better and massage the bottom of your foot pushing hard into the arch whenever you can.  
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    • Posted

      Thanks that is encouraging news. How long until you could walk? When were you able to go back to work? I don't start to weight beAr until 8-10 weeks and my doc says I'll be walking 3 weeks after and I'm very skeptical about that time line with all the pain I've had. My brother in law was off for 6 months and he didn't even have the Achilles done.

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    • Posted

      At 8 weeks my doctor started me to weight bear with the 50% pressure with the cam walker and the boot.  He also sent me to physical therapy at 8 weeks and gave me a list of exercises and stretches to start at home.  Your foot will not have much forward and back movement and will be very tight. But I started seeing progress in as little as 3 days and after 2 weeks I am really getting close to having full range of motion going back and forth.  My Achilles is very tight and I bought something called a pro stretch which looks like a rocker for your foot and that really helps with the Achilles and I do it while seated.  It will tighten back up quickly so I keep at it.  A stretching strap will also help.  I can message you privately if you would like and give you some ideas on the exercises I do and what I purchased that is helping me to give you an idea of what to look for.  I just took on the attitude that my full time job is to get better so I work at it constantly.  Yesterday I went to the doctor as I was at 10 weeks and 2 days.  The doctor x-rayed my foot and is allowing me to now transition to walking without crutches at 100% with the walking boot.  In my case the area around the bone graft is not fully closed.  He said if I had fully healed he would have let me go straight to sneakers and a brace but there is a high chance of it not fusing if you allow to much weight before it is fully fused. He said he is hopeful in 2 more weeks it will look fully fused and I can transition to sneakers at week 12.  He also is going to let me work on beginning side to side motion next week but only with the therapist because I ruptured my ligaments on both sides and those were repaired. 

      So how did it feel?  Well it hurts where the bone fusion is and on the outside where the ligament was repaired but not on the inside.  My stepping down slowly into the weight and standing there for about 20 seconds it removes all of the pins and needles before I begin to walk.  He said the work that I have been doing to reacclamte by pressing down with my foot and rubbing the bottom of my foot against different textures and massaging the bottom of my foot is allowing it to reacclamate quickly.  He said the more you do it the faster it will readjust.  He sees this in a lot of these surgeries where because the nerves and skin has not been used it loses its sensations and the nerves become hyper sensative and he reassured me that with work it will resolve.  So I encourage you to work thru the discomfort so it is not as bad when you become weight bearing.  I am back to taking Advil as things are getting a little sore since yesterday but to give you some encouragement I went home from the appointment and then was able to take my daughter to swim team practice and walked all the way from the parking lot, into the facility, past the first outdoor pool and all the way to the second outdoor pool.  I did it!! No crutches.  I was able to go up the stairs in my house too and I made dinner for the first time in the kitchen all on day one.  No electrical shock and pins and needles.  Keep working it will pay off.  I can not tell you about returning to work because I think it would depend upon what type of work you would do and how much standing and walking you would do.   I think that would be something you would decide with your doctor based on your job.  I would think if your job was a lot of sitting that around 10 weeks you could possibly start transitioning back to it.  

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    • Posted

      Thank you that is the info I really needed. It is very encouraging. I go to my appt this week , so see what the X-rays show and if weight bearing can begin. I hope I can then take the cam boot off to shower and massage my leg. My surgeon was pretty strict about it never coming off. I have seen those Achilles rockers , so I'll order that. It will be so good to get the boot off, it sounds like you are close! Good luck with your recovery!

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      I have found one other rehabilitation item that I had my physical therapist look at which might help with the pins and needles and the stretching.  It is a foot gym and it is built like a triangle so you can stretch your foot as well. It has 3 strength rubber bands that for me is helpful because I am having issues regaining motion in my toes so you scrunch your toes into the band and hold then release or can do toe lifts.  Then it gives some ideas for calf and foot raises when I get to that point when I am out of the boot.  But here is the thing that may help your foot adjust.  It has a roller that attaches that you can put water in and freeze or can put hot water in.  You then put your arch on it and roll it across your foot.  This may help desensitize your foot as well.  I got it this weekend and I like it and my daughter had ankle surgery a week prior to mine used it and she liked it too.  I hope the doctor lets you move forward.  I know every time I was allowed to do something new it was just a huge event and I would be so happy.  
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    • Posted

      Thanks I will definitely look into those items. The ice one sounds good, I could prob freeze a water bottle to use for this. I hope they have that gym for your feet here, or that I can find it online. I'll ask when I start physio. Let me know when your walking without assistance it will give me an idea of when I can hope for. It seems you have worked hard at it so it must feel rewarding with all your progress.

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