What was your initial medical issue?
I had broken every bone in my ankle in an accident in April of 2017 and by August, I was already was experiencing late-stage arthritis and was showing signs of avascular necrosis in my talus.
What did your pain or other symptoms prevent you from doing?
I was experiencing searing pain in my ankle with every step I took preventing me from walking very far or enjoying anything. My activities were limited to sedentary ones and I got tired out easily because I was constantly exhausted from the mental and physical pain I was experiencing for hours every day.
Why did you choose Dr. Sanders and Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Center?
I was referred to him by Dr. Robert Hymes from the Inova Medical Group.
What procedure/treatment did you have done?
Surgery number one (which took place in October 2017) was an ankle debridement where Dr. Sanders cleaned up my ankle and took out some of the pins and screws that were placed there during initial emergency surgery. Dr. Sanders also took stem cells from just below my knee and inserted them into my talus to combat the avascular necrosis. A few months later, Dr. Sanders was able to determine that my talus was going to survive.
After healing from the first surgery, I was still walking with a considerable amount of pain as the arthritis in my ankle continued to progress. Because of the success of the first surgery, Dr. Sanders was then able to perform a subtalar fusion, fusing the subtalar joint below the ankle to the heel of my foot. Once the subtalar fusion healed, the pain from this part of the ankle was gone.
Nevertheless, I was still having constant pain in my ankle joint that wasn’t getting any better. In August 2019 Dr. Sanders and again discussed my goals for recovery, the number one being able to walk pain-free. By that time I had been in pain every day with every step I took for a year and a half and it was clear that in order to reach my goal of being 100% pain-free I would have to either have a total ankle replacement or an ankle fusion.
I was then faced with the difficult task of choosing which course of action to take. Between multiple conversations, and emails containing medical articles that he forwarded to me, Dr. Sanders allowed me the time and confidence to make an informed decision about my ankle, and really, my future.
I ended up choosing to have a total ankle replacement in September 2019 which retained movement in my foot and continues to give me the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities.
How did you feel after your treatment?
It has been 13 months since I had the total ankle surgery. I am fully healed and I can honestly say that I have zero ankle pain and I am very nearly 100% free of pain when walking and I will never take that for granted. I no longer feel trapped, I feel free.
Do you have any advice for other patients?
This recovery is the hardest thing I have ever done, but the hard work is worth it. It also helps to have a great orthopedic surgeon.