John's story – ankle fusion and replacement
John blames years of playing rugby for the severe osteoarthritis that has led to his having one ankle fused and another replaced (with a hip replacement in between.)
The 70-year-old retired executive from Oxfordshire describes the pain in his ankles as “absolutely terrible, ghastly agony,” which prevented him from leading anything like a normal life.
'I’d had terrible trouble, particularly with my right ankle, for years and years, so around six years ago Paul Cooke, my orthopaedic surgeon, decided to fuse it,” he says. Despite the fusion, which effectively fixed the ankle in a rigid position, John says he has a little movement around the ankle – enough to be able to press the accelerator in his car. The operation was a complete success.
Because it’s impractical to have both ankles fused in a patient with other arthritic joints, John’s other troublesome ankle was replaced a year ago. He was out of bed the day after surgery and made a rapid recovery, soon throwing away his crutches, despite only recently having had a hip replacement. He adds: ‘I was in a half-plaster for a couple of months afterwards, then a velcro boot and a support sock. It all went very well.’
Having replaced his car with an automatic so he doesn’t have to use the clutch with his artificial joint, John has found his quality of life transformed. ‘I’ve had a very positive experience of both ankle fusion and replacement; I have absolutely no pain anywhere, which is a joy. Walking has got easier, and I can get on with my life. For me, ankle surgery was the only answer – and I’m really glad I had it done.’