Ankle Fusing to End Arthritis Agony???

by Support on May 22, 2011

We found this article today about how sufferers of arthritis are ending their suffering by undergoing ankle fusion surgery, Ankle Fusion? Sounds like agony in itself to us, Notice in that they say in the third paragraph that, “If not treated or managed correctly, symptoms will worsen, leading to permanent immobility or surgery…” So the moral to this story is TREAT AND MANAGE YOUR DISEASE EFFECTIVELY….
…and naturally!


Arthritis agony can end by fusing ankle bones – Daily Mail
By Alice Smellie


Last updated at 4:17 AM on 22nd May 2011


Walking wounded: John Wallis was 'diagnosed' with osteoarthritis by a stranger while walking his dog Lucy in Bournemouth Walking wounded: John Wallis was ‘diagnosed’ with osteoarthritis by a stranger while walking his dog Lucy in Bournemouth


Surgery to cure the pain of ankle arthritis used to involve a 5in incision, a hammer, a chisel, and three months of painful rehabilitation in plaster.But today the keyhole procedure is somewhat more gentle, leaving little or no unsightly scarring and is almost free of complications. Eight million Britons suffer from osteoarthritis, with symptoms including mild to severe pain and inflammation, and difficulty moving as bony growths – or nodules – develop around the affected joints.


It is caused by the breakdown of cartilage between the bones, with the bones then grinding against each other. It can affect anyone of any age and is often triggered by injury, exacerbated by being overweight, or is purely down to genes. 

Fifteen per cent of osteoarthritis sufferers have the disease in the ankle joint. If not treated or managed correctly, symptoms will worsen, leading to permanent immobility or surgery, such as a prosthetic replacement.

However, ankle fusion – which involves fusing together three bones in the ankle to prevent painful grinding – is becoming a more popular option. The ankle consists of three bones and plays the pivotal role in any movement of the foot. The top of the ankle bone, or talus, fits into a socket formed by the lower end of shinbone, or tibia, with the fibula sitting on the outside of the leg and slightly protruding.

Within the joint, the bones are covered with smooth, white tissue called articular cartilage, which is a few millimetres thick. This cushionsthe ends of the bones so that joints can glide smoothly backwards and forwards.


‘Seven years ago, few surgeons were performing arthroscopic fusion but it is now the preferred method,’ says Heath Taylor, consultant orthopaedic surgeon and specialist in foot and ankle surgery at the Nuffield Hospital, Bournemouth.


‘The old procedure may be used if problems are very severe, but arthroscopic fusion is much better because recovery time can be six weeks rather than three months.

Ankle Surgery

‘Ankle fusion patients tend to be older and many don’t have good circulation. Major surgery can pose greater risk of infection or of non-union, where the bones fail to knit together. These risks are much lower using the arthroscopic technique.’


The procedure is carried out under general anaesthetic with a nerve block that wears off after 24 hours.


Two small incisions are made at the front of the ankle and an arthroscope, or miniature telescope with a diameter of just 4.5mm, is inserted through one hole.


Through the other, a small drill, or burr, is inserted. Using both instruments the surgeon files down any remaining cartilage and nodules that might have developed.


The bone surface is then prepared – the hard top layer of bone is stripped away to reveal the tissue underneath which has bleeding spots that help knit the bones together. The bones are manipulated under an X-ray machine which ensures they are straight and all deformities are corrected.


After this, two tiny cuts are made on the side of the ankle. Two guide-wires are inserted to hold the ankle in the correct position, a hole is drilled over the guide-wire within the bone and two titanium screws pull the talus into the tibia and compress them together.


One tiny suture is needed in each wound and then a half plaster cast is applied to the ankle.


‘Pain is the most important factor when deciding on surgery,’ says Mr Taylor. ‘But also, as the cartilage wears down, there can be a progressive deformity of the ankle.


‘If you draw a line along the leg to the ankle, it should be a straight line, but with osteoarthritis sufferers the leg will tilt inwards or outwards.’


One sufferer to have benefited from the new surgery is John Wallis, 57, from Bournemouth, a keen sportsman who played rugby and completed the Three Peaks Challenge which involves running up the three highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales within 24 hours.


‘The signs were there in my 40s. People said that my walk looked a little strange. But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that the problem became evident,’ says John, married to Sue, 55, a shop manager. ‘Every time I put weight on my ankle there was an awful stabbing pain.’


Initially, John’s doctor was dismissive and simply increased his intake of painkillers.


Then, one day while taking his dog for a walk, a stranger noticed his limp and suggested that it was probably down to osteoarthritis.


After getting an X-ray of the ankle, John was not only diagnosed, but told he was in dire need of surgery because the damage to the joint was so severe. I was devastated as I thought I was so fit and healthy. The thought of surgery filled me with dread,’ says John.


He underwent the operation in late 2009 and 11 weeks later he was able to walk properly again. There are just a few tiny scars.


‘I can walk normally. Even though the bones are fused there is room for movement and my other joints compensate for any restriction,’ says John.


‘I’ve never seen the stranger again, but I’d love to thank him for helping me live my life pain-free.’


View the original article here

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