Total Ankle Replacement at a Young Age?

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I'm nineteen, almost twenty. I badly injured my right ankle (compound tib/fib fracture) in an accident in July 2014 and had two reconstructive surgeries in the month following. The joint surface could not be totally repaired, and became very arthritic I guess. As I began weight bearing again I experienced a lot of sharp pain. April - July 2015 I underwent Ankle Distraction Arthroplasty. It was probably mostly unsuccessful -- my range of motion is very limited and weight bearing/walking has remained a challenge and gotten progessively worse. Sometimes I would be fine and could walk long distances without thinking about my ankle, other times I'd get up to walk across a room and it's as if I'm hobbling on a broken bone. Lately I've been experiencing a lot more of the latter, and I cannot perform my daily activities without being in a pretty severe amount of arthritic pain. I've gotten four cortisone shots so far, and they provide relief, but that relief has been lasting shorter and shorter spans of time. I'm at a point where it seems there is nothing I can do but go forward with a major surgery -- a couple of days ago I got x-rays, and there is basically no joint space left. I am left to decide between ankle fusion and Total Ankle Replacement. At my age, this is a very tough call to make. 

Please share any input/experience/expertise with TAR and fusion, specifically  at a younger age. I really look forward to hearing from anyone. It helps so much. 

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4 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Gillian, yes, it is a tough call to make. I had ankle fusion since my bones popped out. Later a TAR and subsequently another surgery. In my case it has been nearly nine months of pain. Unable to drive and relying on Uber drivers to help me get down the stairs to get to appointments.

    Had I known that this was such a lengthy process, I would have ensured to have friends to give me a hand.

    Let me know what you decide and wishing you the best! Monica

    • Posted

      Monika -- so you got a TAR after the fusion? What was unsuccessful about the fusion? 

      To be clear, you're nine months out of the TAR and still in a lot of pain? I'm sorry to hear that. This is such a draining process.

      Thank you for replying!

  • Posted

    Hi Gillian,

    I know how difficult for you to have a proper decision. I would like to recommend to you the site Ankle Joint Fusion on Facebook. It helped me a lot. I hope it will be helpful for you as well. Many young people live with the fused ankle. You can ask group any questions and will have answers for your questions.

    • Posted

      Yes indeed it is a challenging process. I'm just hoping that everyone heals.

      I had so many surgeries and cannot remember clearly everything. I still have to look at some paperwork.

      I moved with an aircast boot, crutches a knee stroller and my teenager to a different city since I had a new job lined up. Was unable to take the position since it would have been impossible to drive.

      Had two new Orthopedic surgeons examine me. One of them sent me home with a mild muscle relaxant and told me to eat bananas...

      I have insisted to the new doctors to fax over all my info to a Orthopedic/Traumatologist in Europe. They refused! I just needed a fresh opinion. He offered to help out for free looking at records and evaluating them.

      I apologise for lengthy responses. I know that, even feeling helpless at times, better times will come!!!

      They have to, and they will👍 I'm trying to gather as much strength and get through.

      Thank you!!!



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