Loose Ankles?

My experience with Brostrom Surgery – Ankle Ligament Repair

In January 2018, I had ankle surgery to repair torn ligaments. There is plenty of medical information online, but I couldn't find many first-hand experiences of the problem. I put this together in the hope others in a similar situation will find it useful.

Back when I was in boy scouts, our scout troop leader had a limp. He lamented to us often about the importance of good boots. But I was young then and I figured I had nothing to worry about. In college I took up jogging, and every now and then would trip and twist my ankle. No big deal. But over the years the trips and sprains added up. The big ones stick in my mind; sprains while hiking down from overnight camping trips, trips while trail running, trips while out for a morning run.

My mother cautioned me to look after my ankle. She said I would get arthritis. But I figured arthritis was for old people, so I didn’t pay much attention.

The years passed by, the sprains kept coming. Then there were a few good sprains that put me out of running for months. Compression socks from different countries started to pile up in my drawers. I started wearing an Active Ankle brace occasionally, then all the time. Along the way, I saw a few doctors who diagnosed ‘chronic ankle instability’ and recommended ankle strengthening exercises. I did my best to improve my balance with my eyes shut while washing my teeth, but there didn’t seem to be much more that I could do; except be careful.

I wish I’d known….

Whenever I sprained my ankle, I would wrap it up with one of those ACE bandages that you get at the drugstore. They didn’t really add much support.

What would have worked better for hiking and running would have been an ASO Lace-up Ankle Brace

Eventually, I stopped running; it wasn’t worth the risk. I stopped hiking; it also wasn’t worth the risk. But by then I would sprain my ankle crossing the street or even doing laundry. The ankle started to ache… not badly, but noticeable. So, with insurance in hand, I went to get some long overdue physical therapy.

By this point the physio laughed at me, and said there was nothing she could really do. Time to talk to a surgeon.

Ankle Ligaments.

Inversion sprains are the most common types of sprain where the foot bends outwards. There are three ligaments that are designed to keep things in place, but repeated injuries will weaken and eventually tear these completely. The doctor knew right away from pulling my ankle out at a funny angle, and the MRI confirmed: Two of my ligaments, the ATFL and CFL were completely torn. Only the strength of my muscles kept me upright.

Fortunately, modern medicine has a few tricks up it’s sleeve and the Brostrom Repair is one of them. The ligaments can be sewn back together, and they’ll reattach, stronger than new apparently.

The MRI also showed other damage. With each sprain, the corners of the bone starts to grind into the cartilage. Eventually that cartilage started to rub away and the result was friction where the bone starts to grind on bone. The associated inflammation and pain is known as arthritis and it’s bad news. The arthritis damage is less easy to fix, but a technique called ‘micro-fracturing’ of the bone makes it possible for the body red blood cells to escape and regrow some insulating material where the cartilage had formerly been.

With trepidation, I signed myself up.

Brostrom Repair – The Surgery

I had my surgery done with Daniel Thuillier at UCSF. This surgery has a high degree of success, and even though my ankle started to feel better in the months before surgery, both my PT and the doctor felt this was the right decision long-term.

The morning of the surgery, I was nervous. I took a long walk down by the canal in the morning drizzle before I went in, and then I resigned myself to the professionals.

Leg shaved, colored pens to mark which ankle they were going to operate on, IV drip hooked up, sedatives infused, ultrasound to find the leg nerves and a nerve block applied, and then I was wheeled into the OR, strapped in and a couple short breaths later…

…. I woke up. It didn’t feel bad. In fact I felt fine like I’d just taken a morning nap. My foot was all nicely packaged up. The nerve block was clearly doing it’s thing as there was no pain at all. They kicked me out of the hospital soon after, and I rode home to enjoy two weeks under house arrest.

Elevation is key to reducing swelling, so I lay back on my bed, with my foot propped up on a multitude of pillows. The nerve block lasts about 12-18 hours

After the nerve block wears off, the pain kicks in. They sent me home with prescriptions for lots of ibuprofen and opioids (oxycodone). Apparently it’s important to ‘get ahead’ of the pain. It’s much harder to use the drugs to overcome the pain once it arrives. So I signed myself up for the basic dose before I went to sleep and braced myself for the pain to come.

Surprisingly, severe pain didn’t come. The drugs did their job and I felt fine and only slightly loopy. By morning I could move my toes, and the pain level was probably at no more than a 2. If there’s one thing that I could pass on to others going through this, it’s that it wasn’t that bad… at all.

The next couple days, it’s best to remain in bed, and believe me, I had no desire to be up and about. I drank lots, and repurposed a laundry detergent container into a bedpan. The drugs stop up the rest of your system, so you don’t have to worry about #2 for a couple days. Then you have to start worrying about #2.

After a couple days in bed, I was ready to get up and move around.

Life on crutches.

Ok. So there’s a shopping list of things you need to prepare for.

1. You’ll want to shower. You can buy a waterproof covering that will go over your cast and keep everything dry. Buy it.

2. Don’t use the underarm crutches. They’re awkward, uncomfortable and can cause nerve damage even when you have them adjusted properly. Instead go buy some forearm crutches – also known as Canadian crutches, or Euro crutches, or quite frankly Rest-of-the-World crutches. It seems only America is stuck in the mid-1800’s with it’s preference for underarm crutches. Believe me, forearm crutches are the single best piece of advice I can give. You can buy a pair for $40.

After two weeks of hobbling around the house and keeping my foot elevated, the doctor took my stitches out, put me in a boot and allowed me to go out.

Note on the boot. UCSF charged my insurance over $1000 for the boot. If I’d bought the boot without insurance it might have only been $700. But go look on Amazon, you’ll find the same boot for $65!!! – A damning indictment on the state of over-charging in American healthcare.

Be careful of those knee scooters. One friend clipped a cubicle while zipping around the office and put herself back in hospital.

The first couple weeks on crutches is hard. Hard on your hands, hard on your self-confidence. This is offset by the ample kindness and generosity exhibited by almost everyone. Buses would wait for me, people would hold open doors, carry my food, strike up random conversations. I would go so far as to describe this period of convalescence as both character-building and life affirming.

Driving with your left foot

Since I’d had surgery on my right foot, I was told I couldn’t drive for six weeks.

Right. You can’t walk, and now you can’t drive?

I refitted the car with a left-foot accelerator made out of soldered copper pipe. Now you might think this a crazy idea, and everyone warned me against it, but in reality it wasn’t much different than driving on the left side of the road. There’s a mental shift, but it happens fairly quickly. You do need to be very cautious as you get started, and you do want to keep that right foot out of the way. I swung mine over to the passenger seat, so that muscle memory would know it had no role in hitting the brake should a surprise arise. It was left foot or nothing, and the left foot rose to the challenge.

Home made left-foot accelerator modification
This modification enabled me to drive with my left foot. I found it fairly easy to learn and get used to. Note that the police, and your insurance company, may not be as impressed by this. You should do your own research, and give consideration to the liability of getting into an accident while left-foot driving.

Rehab

The weeks passed quickly. My arms grew strong. My disabled parking placard came. I learned how to carry a cup of coffee while walking slowly on crutches. The scar healed; it healed well. The boot became comfortable, and then it was time to move on.

Six Weeks

Up until six weeks, I’d successfully managed to stay off my foot (with only a couple minor mishaps). My pain level had never been above 3. I figured I was through the worst, and would soon be able to throw away the crutches and start dancing. Wrong. The fun was only getting started.

Six weeks of non-weight bearing had left my leg a shrunken noodle. As I started to move my foot, all sorts of stuff started to feel wrong. My leg muscles started cramping up at night. The foot was bruised, tingly and uncomfortable. Pain would shoot out as I started to put partial weight on the foot while walking in crutches

But the boot came off, and it was soon time for physical therapy!

Nine Weeks

Physical therapy started with range of motion and simple exercises to bring the muscles back to life. I was soon on an exercise bike every other day, and 30mins on the bike seemed to leave me a little more mobile than before. Walking with the crutches became more natural. One day, I found I was able to stand. The next I was able to stand up. Then I could walk across the kitchen unaided. Soon I found myself able to walk up stairs, then down stairs. I’d take the crutches for longer walks. I was able to get around.

Friends came to visit, and I took them to Yosemite. I managed to walk the Vernal Falls circuit partially weight bearing with the underarm crutches, up slippy rocks, and through snow. My physical therapist was not amused. But I think I will use forearm crutches for all hiking in the future. It’s fast and easy, and everyone seems delighted to see a cripple with determination.

Twelve Weeks

After three months, the crutches are in the basement, but my ankle is still sore and stiff. Every day is better though and I’m back on my bicycle, and back to swimming. I’m able to walk to the store, and every week the limp seems to be less. Doctor says this is completely to be expected at this stage.

Six Months

Recovery is definitely plateau-ing. My ankle is much more stable, and I am comfortably getting around on it, but it still aches and it doesn’t feel good to run on it. I can make it maybe a half mile, but after that it lets me know that it definitely isn’t happy. I saw the doc, and he recommended I go easy on it and see where we’re at after a year. That feels right. I’m still hopeful for a full recovery, although a little fearful that my running days are over.

Twelve Months

I’m back to running again. Not a lot, but I can comfortably trot out four or five miles now, which is all I’m after really. After a longer run, my ankle will ache for the next 24 hours, which I assume is from scar tissue and inflammation around the damaged cartilage. Nothing that a little ibuprofen and a bit of ice doesn’t take care of. I only run once a week or so as part of a a varied exercise routine, so perhaps I should push it more and see if it sorts itself out. The biggest improvement is that my ankle now feels much, much, more stable. I’m more confident on my feet, and that cloud of worry on uneven ground seems a lot less heavy.

Eighteen Months

Running a couple times a week now, without any noticeable problems from the surgery. My foot feels strong and stable. So, at this point, I’m really happy. It took a while to get to 100%, but it was well worth doing!

Good Links

197 Comments

  1. Kathleen on March 23, 2021 at 1:55 am

    Hi everyone! Had the modified Brostom with peroneal tendon repair on February 10th. My ligament was “shredded” so much that they had a graft on stand-by just in case they weren’t able to get clean margins – which they were. My tendon was torn 75% and I had an old break on the inside of my ankle that never healed so they cleaned that up, as well.

    Splint for 2 weeks, cast for 2, now partial weight bearing boot with one crutch. So I’m 5+ weeks post op, 2nd full week of PT 2x per week. I’m still getting the “electric shocks” down my incision every once in a while and it aches at the end of every day. I have very simple exercises to do 3/4x per day – rolling a ball under my foot, calf stretches, ankle circles -nothing strenuous.

    Today at PT, he had me walk without the crutch, front/back & side to side touches on a wobble board with no weight while sitting, 6 minutes on a recumbent elliptical. All tough to do for the first 10/20 reps – behind the ankle/next to my Achilles is REALLY tight – but then it loosens up and I can go at a pretty good clip. Also had me equal weight bear today with transferring my weight side to side and then front back. Felt tight but again, it loosened up and felt great. PT tells me this is all standard. The BIGGEST thing the PT tells me is to trust the process and don’t get lazy at home. It’s all about reactivating those unused muscles, building the strength and lengthening the ligament – not stretching it – so GO SLOW!

    Side note: I’m a fairly fit person. Used to yoga 2x week, muscle class 2x week and hard cardio min 1x. I want NOTHING more than to go full out but I’m gonna take this time to heal. I don’t want to mess it up and go back to where I was.

    They are going to slowly transition me to a regular shoe starting at my 6 weeks (in a few days). If this helped anyone, let me know and I can continue to post my progress.

    Good luck to everyone and thanks for sharing your stories.

  2. Anthony on April 2, 2021 at 8:27 am

    I had the surgery five months ago and feel like I’m plateauing. I can run a couple miles, but it gets sore. Also, if I just go for a long walk, it can get pretty sore too. The mobility of my ankle and its strength don’t feel like its improved too much since the three month mark. This was reassuring that it will still continue to heal over time.

  3. Julie on April 8, 2021 at 10:25 pm

    I had this procedure done back in 2009 and it was the best decision! It was a tough rehab and those six weeks in a non-weight-bearing cast were the worst. I used a scooter for a week then hit a hole in the floor in my office and tore my shoulder tendons. (Had to have surgery for that a few months later) so I suggest caution using the scooter.
    My ankle is so strong and I even fell on some cobblestones in Europe and broke bones in the top of my foot but my ankle had no damage.
    It is amazing how strong my ankle is now. I spent 20 years not being able to do sports or hike because it always gave out, and I broke my ankle during that time as well from a twist. I highly recommend getting this surgery if you have an unstable ankle. It truly improved my quality of life. The rehab pain does improve but it’s a lengthy recovery.

  4. Yan on April 14, 2021 at 6:09 pm

    Thank you for this great blog giving everyone the opportunity to share their experience.

    I had the brostrom surgery 1 week ago and the pain in the ankle is almost gone but my two last toes are very numb and hurt at night, from what I read it could stay like that for months…(nerve damage?)

    As anyone felt the same thing in regard to the toes?

  5. Terri on May 31, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    I am looking for recent success stories as I am in need of some positive feedback at this time. I suffered a fractured lateral tibia plateau in September of 2020 after several months of pain and suffering I went through surgery to stabilize my knee but the entire time I kept complaining that my foot swelling and turned cold and purple with NO obtainable pedal pulse despite when I received my fractured tibia I was standing and was broadside by a running 75 pound dog and of course my foot and ankle inverted not once but 3 times before I landed , AFTER I couldn’t progress with physical therapy due to my ankle pain the very same day the orthopedic surgeon was releasing me then they decided to do MRI of my ankle and low and behold I have fracture of talus plus complete tear of ATFL . I have not been able to completely bear weight in over 10 months despite my stubbornness and determination. I am scheduled this week for ATFL Brostrom Gould procedure as well as arthroscopic to clean out . This has been horrible long painful journey for me and of course my family who has been great help. What should I expect? Will the weakness improve ? Pain? Thank you in advance and I will follow up

  6. Ron on June 16, 2021 at 12:54 am

    James, thank you for this. I guess we all have different issues and outcomes. My surgery is scheduled for this Friday 6/18 and I have several issues that need to be corrected due to the many years of Athletic injuries. I’m 48 years old and my issues started in High School when I injured my right ankle. This is what will be performed during surgery.
    1) Right Ankle Arthroscopy Debridement.
    2) Osteochondral Defect Repair.
    3) Lateral Ankle Stabilization.
    4) Peroneal Tendon Repair.
    5) Partial Excision of Fibula.
    5) Posterior Tibial Tendon Repair.
    Needless to say, I’m worried about healing, infection, possible nerve damage, pain and being none-weight bearing. My surgeon is telling me that I can’t bear weight for the first 3-4 weeks.
    Reading everyone’s comments, now, I’m worried even more. The surgeon I chose is an excellent one that has done approximately 1050 Ligament/Tendon repair and 450 Osteochondral Defect Repair in his 10 year career. I’m hoping that surgery goes well with all the issues I have and the amount of repair my ankle will go through. I’ll keep everyone updated on this post.

  7. Peter on June 30, 2021 at 1:06 am

    so glad I found this blog.
    I had Brostrom 7 months ago on both sides of my right ankle and removal of two small bone pieces that had broken off years ago.
    Healing went as planned, I put the boot off after 6 weeks and had physio twice per week until now. I can walk without pain up to two hours. Did not dare to start running.
    What really concerns me is that my ankle is still bit swollen, which gets worse over the day, but there is no pain. But it limits the motion of the ankle, still feels stiff. The tissue around both scarfs still looks slightly darker. The swelling goes away when I sleep with the ankle up on pillows during the night. Or after a procedure during physio called „flossing“ which is winding a rubber band very tightly around the ankle for a few minutes.
    Does anyone else still has swelling and limited motion 7months after surgery?

  8. Lindsay on June 30, 2021 at 5:24 am

    I just had my ankle ligament reconstruction with internal brace last Wednesday (6/23/21).
    Surgery went well and once I got home I kept waiting and waiting for the pain to come through….I have had such little pain that I’m in shock. I still can’t believe it. I don’t think I ever got above a 3 on the pain scale.. I am almost 1 week out and fully weight bearing in my big boot. I still have a crutch with me in case I need it.
    My ankle already feels stronger than it did pre-op and I am so pleased. Looking forward to getting the stitches out and starting PT!

  9. Lana on July 1, 2021 at 7:39 am

    James, thank you so much for the blog… to echo other comments it is most helpful to have an actual account of people recoveries… I am on day 5 after my surgery, no pain, but my toes turn purple and I can feel my ankle swell as soon as I lower it to the ground… so It has been elevated and iced for most of the last five days… I also had a nerve block and some local anesthesia so was pain free for good 2 days and had to take pain meds on day 3 and four. My first post op visit is tomorrow, so will find out the rest of my recovery timeline… Best of luck to all still recovering…

  10. Roger Rogerson on July 13, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    I’m at about 9 months right now and I’d add that the recovery between 6 months and 9 months has been more or less linear for me after the plateau that James described. I did plateau but only for a month maybe, and then month 8 and month 9 have seen great improvements.

    I am personally not running @ 9 months because I want to keep the impact off until 12-18 months or so, and I’m a bit overweight so have been focusing on losing that (10 pounds down, 10 more to go), but I am rowing a great deal, lifting weights and doing some cross-training, and the other day I was able to play basketball by myself for about 40 minutes, which included running, jumping, cutting, landing, hopping… as a kind of test… and I didn’t have any significant soreness.

    I suspect that everyone has “that one thing” you’re going to deal with after the surgery and in your rehab. For me, that thing is ankle impingement. I am working on it with band exercises and ROWING, which has been the savior of my rehab program, but it’s still just super tight when my foot is cold, and even when the foot is warm, I’m a pretty uncomfortable 12cm-14cm on knee-to-wall, far short of the “good” foot.

    Anyway— I’d just like to backup what James is saying here for all those people who just got their surgeries. I am not at all sure that this surgery worked, especially the microfracture, or for how long. But right now, I’d say I have an 80% chance of playing basketball at a high level again, which is far higher than I thought it would be six months ago.

  11. Beth on July 21, 2021 at 7:41 am

    Ankle injury. I fell while skiing of course the last day of the last run. Just caught an edge. Had a fractured medial malice. Through this whole injury I kept mentioned that the other side of ankle was very painful. my ankle did not feel stable once i began walking. Ended up having plates and screws for the medial malleolus Fx, no weight nearing for six weeks. They then found an additional leg fracture higher on the leg that had not yet fully healed due to the sii boot. An additional two weeks nonweightbearing. After learning how to walk again and multiple trips to physician went back and again told him again about my pain instability on my ankle. Then he proceeded to tell me that was a different problem and it would require more surgery. Being extremely upset I left and searched up another physician for a second opinion. The second surgeon concluded that again I needed the Brostrom procedure with two totally full thickness tears after receiving MRI. I am a week into the Boston procedure by the 2nd surgeon Nd again non weight-bearing. I’m getting used to the nonweightbearing thing I am so anxious to become active again. I was very active in the past with soccer, hiking, skiing etc…With so many rolled ankles in the past. The first surgeon told me that the Boston procedure could not be completed at the same time to medial Malleous with plates and screws was repaired. still don’t know if that is true. It’s been a long summer so far and I just need to get back and be active and of course start playing again. I had already bought my next season ski pass when injury occurred.It is getting pretty depressing but try to stay positive. Luckily I have a wonderful Husband to help. Im so Done.

  12. Emily on July 25, 2021 at 1:15 am

    Just had the surgery 2 weeks ago. According to surgical notes I had complete rupture of the ATFL and CFL with significant lateral ankle instability. They had to do a modified brostrom with an internal brace.
    All I did was fall off of a sidewalk so this really escalated quickly.
    In recovery at the hospital there was a LOT of pain but they increased whatever they were giving me and I was pretty loopy by the time they scooted me on out.
    Was in a cast for a week and couldn’t tell if my toes were hot or cold but whatever they were it felt intense. Nothing I could do about it of course. Cast came off and they changed the bandages over my stitches…
    Then the nerve pain began. By the time I got home I was in the worst pain of my life. For perspective, I’ve given birth.
    Dr prescribed a nerve pain med that makes me pass out completely so can only take at night and that helps.
    It’s now been 2 weeks. Stitches just came out. They do not numb you for that. At least they didn’t for me and it was painful. Sharp feeling.
    I sound like a wuss but I swear I’m not. I have plenty of large tattoos none I’ve gotten with numbing cream and I’ve given birth and had migraines all my life. I can stand pain. This ankle stuff is different though.
    Waiting on a call from physical therapy. I’m supposed to start walking now in a boot which I’ve tried a few times with help. It’s difficult. Can’t put my foot down at a right ankle completely. Dr says it’s stiffened.
    Hoping for better times.

  13. Leon on July 28, 2021 at 5:57 am

    I posted on here awhile back and am happy to report that I got the Brostrom done on my left ankle last month. I’m still in a short leg cast and on crutches, and next week I will get this cast removed and a walking cast applied. The problem was diagnosed a year ago (chronically unstable ankle), but my ankle had been problematic for years before. I used plenty of ace wraps and over-the-counter bracing and even boots. Still, my ankle was unstable and sprain-prone. It reached the point where it didn’t take much to get a sprain. The joint was as if the bones were rubbing together. The procedure went well, done at 10 am and I was home by 4 pm. The only pain I felt was during the first 10 days or so but I’m sure I’m in for more pain once I start ambulating un-aided again. There were some nasty surges of pain when I’d get up and onto the crutches after a long time of laying down with it elevated. My stitches are out and the incision site apparently looks good with no infection. Starting next week I’ll be gradually starting to walk again after getting the new cast on. Somehow though, I think I will still be leaning on the crutches while getting going again with full weight on both legs. In talking with other people, it seems this is the trend – one of my friends who also had the Brostrom said his leg felt like “a peg leg” for quite awhile afterward, as it was not comfortable to go up and down stairs or do any heavy physical activity.

    My question is about physical therapy (PT) after the Brostrom procedure. Do you have to go to a clinic to do it? Is it going to make or break your recovery? The reason I ask is that my insurance has crappy PT benefits. Long ago, I had another insurance that covered it fully. While my present insurance covered all but the $200 co-pay for hospital admission for this surgery, there is a high co-pay for every visit to a PT clinic. The thing is, the PT I’ve had in the past was a joke. A few years ago I went a few times, after an injury to my other ankle. Every time I came out of there, I was thinking, “I could’ve looked this stuff up online and done it myself at home.” I even told my doctor that it was useless. Granted, that was after a bad sprain and mild fracture to my *other* ankle. The situation is obviously different now that I’ve had this reconstructive ankle surgery. I’m just curious as to what most people do as far as PT for this? If I do go, I will be spending hundreds of out-of-pocket dollars that I don’t want to spend, likely all for the purpose of them watching me walk and giving me a piece of paper listing exercises to do. I’m sure my doctor will prescribe PT but I don’t know if it is an absolute must. Hopefully it isn’t!!

  14. Lee A Atonna on August 2, 2021 at 2:21 am

    Has anyone had experience with a new procedure called InternalBrace? It purportedly has less post surgery downtime.

  15. Laurena on August 5, 2021 at 10:55 am

    I had a similar experience to Mary.

    I twisted my ankle and after nearly eighteen months of physio, orthotics and living in runners, I couldn’t stand for more than 10 minutes at a time and my ankle rolled in nearly 45 degrees with every step I took. Decided enough was enough and saw a surgeon.

    I had ankle arthroscopy,collateral ligament reconstruction and LARS reconstruction 9 days ago.

    When I woke in recovery I was in excruciating pain, and had to be given two different types of pain relief to get the pain to a manageable state.

    I don’t know how this procedure is usually done as a day procedure. It is physically and emotionally draining.

    I was very unstable on crutches – and going up/down a single step was frightening. I was borderline on being released, but pushed as I wanted to get home.

    Moderate pain continued for 3 days, after which Panadol and anti inflammatory was sufficient to manage pain.

    I’m now 9 days post op and the back/bottom my heel is extremely stiff and it is making sleep extremely difficult. I’m repeatedly icing the heel to manage the discomfort. I’m sleeping in the surgical
    boot to avoid twisting the ankle in my sleep.

    I was not mentally prepared for this operation and the complete reliance on my hubby. Being non weight bearing on the foot has made even going to the bathroom difficult. It’s been a very hard slog.

    I see the surgeon tomorrow and hope I transition out of the below knee surgery cast. Also hope something can be done about heel stiffness 🙁

  16. Steph on August 15, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    I’m so upset after my surgery! My doc said it would take care of the random daggers I felt In my ankle every step and also fix the elaborate daggers in the ankle that caused me to not walk… after surgery I progressed well.. I felt the daggers but I thought they were a part of the process… I kept feeling the daggers months after, I talked to the surgeon about them, she prescribed orthitocs. A $400 expense but I bought them, they hurt me so bad.. I kept wearing them because I thought d9c wouldn’t tell me to wear them if they didn’t help… everyday they hurt…. Saw my surgeon, she said now I have pttd and achilles tendonitis because my foot still feels daggers. I participated in physical therapy 1-2 week since surgery, I still have stabbing pain in my ankle every time I step, sometimes it’s so debilitating that I can’t use my foot. I’m exhausted trying to find out what’s wrong with me?

  17. Christine on October 12, 2021 at 11:22 am

    Hi there, I just had ankle surgery (lateral ligament reconstruction) on Sept. 22.. I rolled my ankle while I was running in June 2020 and it basically never healed despite me always icing it and doing my best.. It turned into a chronic ankle sprain.. I was dreading to hear the verdict when I went to the Dr but really felt like it was my last and only option so I took the plunge.. My foot was completely numb when I awoke after surgery, which I hated.. They prescribed me hydrocodone/ibuprofen for pain when the nerve block wore off.. The pills didn’t do a thing. The first time I took them all they did was make it hard to read my phone (blurry) and I still had pain.. The pain wasn’t unbearable, but it was very present and hard to ignore.. I’d say after about 3-4 days it was a lot better.. I kept my foot elevated a majority of the day for the first week or so.. I had crutches the first week and my armpits hurt so bad after a while (and you can’t carry anything either!) so I got a knee scooter. What a life saver. You can’t ride them outside unfortunately but it makes life in the home so much better and safer.. Get one w/a basket if you can. (And also a shower stool is a great idea as well..) I had the 16 staples and 2 sutures removed on Oct. 7th (~2 weeks post-op) and they put me in a aircast walking boot and barely elaborated on instructions, basically just said to use crutches and boot to transition into walking.. I didn’t put any weight on my ankle at all that day. The next morning I started testing the waters by slowly walking w/crutches and the boot on and putting my foot down slightly and it wasn’t too bad.. My ankle was very stiff tho so I started massaging the muscles around my ankle where it felt the worst and my foot too to bring back the feeling and slowly bending my foot forward and backward but not side to side.. Basically just listening to my body.. Later that day I started walking just with the boot and no crutches and it seemed to get a little easier but I have found that even when I do walk around a little bit it is as if later and even the next morning I never walked because my ankle feels stiff again. As for the swelling, I have been keeping up on elevating and icing every so often, sometimes a lot and sometimes not if I’m gone.. my ankle looked like a balloon the other night and was hurting bc I was gone all day and didn’t walk.. But today I only did it a little bit and it wasn’t bad at all. I think every day could be different though. I always sleep w/it elevated.. Sometimes it aches at the incision site.. I’ve been cleaning it every night and putting vasoline on it and wrapping it back up.. It doesn’t look that bad even tho my bf gets grossed out when I show him every single night (for progress lol) As soon as its healed I will start putting aloe vera on it as I’ve seen it fade fresh scars much faster than mederma!! OH also I have noticed that even just in the 2 weeks I’ve been recovering my calf muscle is nearly all gone and my quad has gotten smaller so today I started working out to fix some of that.. I was able to ride the stationary bike w/the boot on without any discomfort or pain and I did some leg extensions and leg curls on the machine and some other isolation exercises.. But as for my calf there’s not really much you can do to build calf muscle without using your ankle so I’m hoping riding the bike will help some.. I do think its important to rest and heal but I know its important to still get some exercise as long as you’re making sure to ice and elevate your ankle, but keep your body strong, and your mind too. I’ve been through a recovery phase once before when I had broken my arm in 4 places and had to have surgery to have a plate and screws put in and I know how hard it can be and how important it is just to keep moving. Yes, it is tough, BUT it is doable! To anyone going through any kind of recovery phase, keep moving. You will get there to the other side and you will look back on it and it will be like a tiny blip on the radar of your life. Just stay focused on the task at hand and go with the flow. Some days you might be able to more and some days less..that’s okay. It will all add up. The key is to keep persevering but be patient with yourself and give yourself grace.

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