“I was ready to throw in the towel on my career, which was agonizing because I love my job. Thanks to my total ankle replacement I can continue the job I love and I have my active lifestyle back.”
As a firefighter, I have experienced my fair share of aches and pains. However, nothing has topped the pain I endured in the years prior to undergoing a total ankle replacement procedure. For nine years prior to undergoing the surgery, my ankle was bone-on-bone and the pain of the two bones grinding against each other was excruciating. I toughed it out because I didn’t know any other way, but I was ready to retire before learning about the procedure.
The saga of my ankle began in 1979 when I injured my right ankle during a high school football practice. Although it was initially diagnosed as a simple sprain, it set in motion a series of events that resulted in more than three decades of pain and uncertainty. I don’t think my ankle ever fully recovered from that first injury and because of that, it became very easy for me to sprain it again. And it happened all the time, especially due to my high intensity job as a firefighter. After one particularly bad sprain, I nearly passed out from the intensity of the pain and had to literally crawl across a parking lot to the fire truck.
By the early 2000’s. I underwent two surgical procedures in hopes of finding relief, but both were unsuccessful and left me feeling helpless and frustrated. As the years progressed, my condition deteriorated to the point where I was forced to abandon some of my favorite leisure activities such as beach volleyball, intensive mountain biking and dancing.
By early 2011, I had consulted with numerous doctors in several cities and reached my tipping point where I needed a better way. I had learned about total ankle replacements at some point but was repeatedly told I was not a candidate. In fact, nearly every physician I visited suggested an ankle fusion. I was only six months away from my 25th anniversary on the job and decided that once I reached that milestone, I would retire, collect my pension and have my ankle fused. I knew an ankle fusion would end my career due to the lack of range of motion that resulted, but it was likely I would have considerably less discomfort. I just wanted the pain to go away.
However, just a few months later, my friend suggested I talk to a physician who informed me that I would indeed be a good candidate for an ankle replacement and educated me about a specific type of artificial ankle. Hopeful for the first time in decades, I visited the company web site and with the help of the site’s physician locator, discovered that three physicians within driving distance to my home performed the procedure.
On October 28, 2011 – one day after reaching my 25th anniversary as a firefighter – Dr. Jason Piraino, who at the time was at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, implanted the INBONE™ Total Ankle Replacement by Wright Medical into my right foot. Seven months of intense physical therapy followed, but I was fully committed and experienced improvement almost every day.
I knew the surgery worked when I could finally stand straight up without pain during rehab. It was a defining and emotional moment for me and to this day, I still get the chills when I think about it.
After finishing physical therapy, I returned to work as a firefighter, pain-free for the first time in more than thirty years. I climbed back on the bicycle, although I keep to less-challenging terrain. I can also be found in a kayak, having picked up the hobby when my ankle kept me off my feet. Most importantly, I have confidence and peace-of-mind.
Recently, I went on my first skiing trip in 10-15 years. After decades of pain, I was finally able to go down every slope without falling. My ankle didn’t bother me once that day. But that is just the beginning of my post-surgery story.
I was ready to throw in the towel on my career, which was agonizing because I love my job. Thanks to my total ankle replacement I can continue the job I love and I have my active lifestyle back.
The INBONE™ Total Ankle Replacement is intended to be used to treat patients with ankle joints damaged by severe arthritis or a failed previous ankle surgery. The INBONE™ Total Ankle Replacement is intended to give patients limited mobility by reducing pain and restoring movement in the ankle.
Not everyone is a good candidate for the INBONE™ Total Ankle Replacement. Talk to your doctor to discuss your lifestyle and health to find out if surgery with the INBONE™ Total Ankle Replacement is a good option for you.
Many factors contribute to the length of hospital stay and rehabilitation. These factors include, but are not limited to, your age and health at the time of surgery as well as your surgeon’s determination of the appropriate hospital stay and rehabilitation. Additionally, there are risks associated with ankle replacement surgery such as pain and bruising, damage to blood vessels or nerves, infection, or blood clots that can travel to your heart or lungs. If you experience these complications, your hospital stay may be extended.
These results are specific to this individual only. Individual results and activity levels after surgery vary and depend on many factors including age, weight and prior activity level. There are risks and recovery times associated with surgery and there are certain individuals who should not undergo surgery.