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An update on my ankle

The ankle odyssey continues! As I mentioned in my most recent post on the subject, I recently had all of the metal work removed from my ankle.

This week, I was back in the hospital for a check up on the ankle, including an x-ray and blood test to look at infection markers. I wasn’t expecting to be have issues with infection, but I was expecting to be told that I would need more surgery on the ankle. My ankle frequently clicks and crunches now when I move it, and the crunches are associated high a split second of intense pain. I interpreted this as the bones not healing, and was quite down about it. First though, let’s take a look at my surgical sites. This is how they look currently:

They’re healing very nicely! For comparison, this is what my ankle looked like last time I was taken in to hospital for the infection:

As expected, my infection markers are way down, suggesting that the infection was removed along with the metal work. So, this is some good news!

Now, on to the x-rays. For comparison purposes the consultant I saw showed me the x-ray which decided my metal work should be removed:

In this picture, you can see the ankle joint (the bit on the left), and the brand new joint I made myself by snapping the end off of the leg bone (the bit on the right). As you can see, the bit on the right has hardly healed. This was due to the infection, which was being harbored by the metal work. So, the metal work was removed. Next up, we have the x-rays that were taken this week:

The second above picture is taken from the same angle as the previous x-ray. As you can see, the bone is healing! This means that I most likely won’t need more surgery, hooray!

My leg bones however now look quite odd; you can see the holes from where the pins were. I had assumed that the surgeon would have filled them in with something, but I guess it does make sense to let them naturally fill in with bone. In the side on x-ray you can also see a fleck of white towards the back of the leg bone. This is a bit of shrapnel that came off from the pins during removal. This will likely live there for life, and hopefully won’t cause me any issues!

So if the bone is healing, why are my bones crunching and hurting? Well, the surface of the actual joint is the cause of this. This is part of a CT scan of my ankle, taken when I was first admitted after the break:

As you can see here, I shrapnelled the surface of the bone pretty badly. The main issue is that this site was heavily ravaged by the infection, as the infection got in to the bone via all the damaged surface. Because of this, the cartilage/other protective stuff in the joint is largely destroyed. When I move my ankle, damaged bone is crunching against damaged bone. This explains the sensation, and the pain. Unfortunately, there is not much to be done at this point. I will most likely not be able to walk without pain again. That said, I believe I can handle this. I was mainly upset because I assumed the crunching meant the bones had not healed, and that I was doing more damage by using them. This revelation that it’s just the damaged joint surface will make it easier to accept. The consultant says that I need to keep walking for the sake of the other bones, and so I guess this is my life now! Winter will be forever an unpleasant time, due to the cold making the arthritis ache.

So, good news all in all! The nerves in my foot remain heavily damaged, and I’ve noticed that my toes keep trying to curl in to a ball. I’m regaining some mobility back again now, after the damage done by the surgery. I think that some of my problems also stem from the tendons/muscles being atrophied and tight, so I guess I have to just keep on with working on the joint to get back to normal!

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