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  1. #1
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    Question Ankle Reconstruction Surgery. Rehab and riding.

    So I'm more of a "lurker" but I decided I'd ask this question and see if there are more out there who have had this type of surgery. I'd like to know how long you were out of the saddle as well as pain after reintroducing yourself to riding again.

    In December I'm scheduled for an ankle ligament reconstruction using a tendon graft. I believe he is planning on using a donor rather than one of mine. This will be my 2nd ankle surgery- 1st was done in my teens (lateral ligament reconstruction). It's my understanding that this surgery is going to be a little more invasive than the previous.

    Has anyone had this done, and if so, what was your recovery time? How long were you out of the saddle and how bad was the pain when you started riding again? I know the incision site should be pretty tender, and my ankle should be pretty swollen for awhile, but that's about as much as I remember. I'm not expecting to even sit on a horse until March at the earliest. I ride and show in the hunters and EQ. I'd like to be back in the show ring by the early summer, are my goals unattainable? Any other advice is welcomed . TIA!



  2. #2
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    I had my ankle reconstructed the end of last February - Brostrums, tendon debridement, synovectomy, more debridement. I got on a horse at around 4 months (I thought it was 5 months or I wouldn't have tried). It wasn't too bad, at least until the drive home, but the next couple weeks stunk. I waited until around 6 months to try again & didn't have much problem at all. I only ride once every couple weeks though, so there is plenty of recovery time between rides.

    I'm probably atypical for this board - I didn't push it to get back in the saddle. I'd had enough problems the 2 years prior just walking, so riding again wasn't a huge priority.



  3. #3
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    I see. Yes, I'm expecting this one to be a little more intense than the previous.... I'm not quite sure how long to expect before I can ride effectively (and comfortably) again. Obviously, my Dr. and I need to discus recovery time-- I'm just curious about being back in the saddle after a tendon graft. It would appear as though you had a similar surgery to my previous (though, I could be mistaken). Thank you for your input! It's very much appreciated!

    I am an ex-competitive gymnast. It's a blessing and a curse. I need to step out of the "get recovered and get back to work" mindset, and just focus on recovery....
    Last edited by AdultAmmy; Nov. 11, 2013 at 08:43 PM.



  4. #4
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    I had both peroneal tendons repaired (no grafts required), retinacular release, bone spur removal, lipoma removal and a posterior tibialis tendon tenosynovectomy in my right foot in January of this year.

    I was non weight bearing for 7 weeks then partial WB for the next 5 and finally out of the boot. My foot was frozen so I did get 2x/week PT for about 6 weeks. I started riding in late April. My first few rides were only 10-15 minutes but after that, the foot has felt quite good when I'm in the saddle (walking is a whole 'nuther story). I got back to 'serious' riding (dressage) in June. By August, I would go to the trotting track and was able to do posting trot for 1 mile on each rein. Again, the foot has always felt pretty good in the saddle. Finally I feel that the horse and I are about back to where we were pre-surgery (training 2nd level). I think my range of motion is at about 75-80% right now and continuing to slowly improve.

    My foot is still a work in progress. I still am not walking really well but it seems to be slowly progressing. The initial injury happened 10 years ago so I haven't been walking very correctly for a long time. I just have to keep working on it. My foot swelled for about 8 months. In the last couple of months, that seems to have finally resolved. Normal sensation in that foot was really wiped out by having incisions on both sides. I can feel that more normal sensation is slooowly coming back. I was hesitant to wear spurs but finally tried it about a month ago and I had no difficulties at all. I didn't feel the surgeon was very forthcoming on just how long it takes to rehab but I am happy to not have that hot poker in the side of the foot constant pain anymore so I think in the end it will be worth it. I talked to a TD at one of the local dressage shows. She had foot surgery a while ago and she said it was 2 years before she was walking normally. I think for us mere mortals (not atheletes) which certainly includes me it does take a long time.

    Jingles for a successful surgery and a smooth recovery.

    Susan


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  5. #5
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    Apr. 11, 2013
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    I've never had this surgery and don't personally know any riders who have, but if your surgeon says to do physical therapy, DO IT. And if your PT tells you that you need to be there 3x a week and do exercises at home, DO IT. It sucks, but it will pay off in the long run. If you skimp on PT because you don't feel like it at the moment, you will pay dearly for it later. The key to PT is consistency--if you only show up once in a while, it's not going to work. Also if the PT says don't ride, DON'T DO IT. There's a reason they're telling you not to ride--you'll tear everything up all over again.

    Best wishes for a fast recovery!

    Source--I work in a PT clinic


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  6. #6
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    Totally agree regarding the physical therapy, I broke my arm in a fall (it was put together with pins) and quite literally had to learn to use it again. When the cast came off it felt like a ghost arm. I sprained my ankle a month ago and x-rays showed I'd re-injured an old fracture I didn't know I had — great! Am now in PT twice a week and told I cannot ride until after Christmas. Annoying but I'm sticking with the program. There's another thread on this site about how ankle pain can be helped by jointed stirrups, BTW.


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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by skipollo View Post
    I've never had this surgery and don't personally know any riders who have, but if your surgeon says to do physical therapy, DO IT. And if your PT tells you that you need to be there 3x a week and do exercises at home, DO IT. It sucks, but it will pay off in the long run. If you skimp on PT because you don't feel like it at the moment, you will pay dearly for it later. The key to PT is consistency--if you only show up once in a while, it's not going to work. Also if the PT says don't ride, DON'T DO IT. There's a reason they're telling you not to ride--you'll tear everything up all over again.

    Best wishes for a fast recovery!

    Source--I work in a PT clinic
    Yep. And tell your therapist EXACTLY how you need to use your ankle to ride. Don't assume they know how to rehab a rider. Help them out and tell them what you need to be able to do--from walking and what might happen if you're leading a factious horse, to mounting, to how you use your ankle when on, to dismounting. Cover it all.

    You might even want to hit up the PT people before surgery, to see if there's anything you can do now to strengthen or stretch or whatever that will make your recovery easier. I wish I'd done that with my hip.


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  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the replies! I'm not looking forward to the surgery, nor am I looking forward to rehabbing. However, I understand the importance of PT as I broke my arm pretty badly after a fall (about 7 years ago). I broke my ulna, dislocated my elbow and lost partial function in my fingers. My doc wasn't certain that the function was going to return-- it did-- with a lot of PT. When my arm came out of the 2nd cast it was stuck at 90 degrees, and I definitely wouldn't have the finger function I have now had I decided to throw in the towel (so to speak).

    Needless to say, I'll be going to PT


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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simkie View Post
    Yep. And tell your therapist EXACTLY how you need to use your ankle to ride. Don't assume they know how to rehab a rider. Help them out and tell them what you need to be able to do--from walking and what might happen if you're leading a factious horse, to mounting, to how you use your ankle when on, to dismounting. Cover it all.
    Excellent tip!


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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simkie View Post
    Yep. And tell your therapist EXACTLY how you need to use your ankle to ride. Don't assume they know how to rehab a rider. Help them out and tell them what you need to be able to do--from walking and what might happen if you're leading a factious horse, to mounting, to how you use your ankle when on, to dismounting. Cover it all.

    You might even want to hit up the PT people before surgery, to see if there's anything you can do now to strengthen or stretch or whatever that will make your recovery easier. I wish I'd done that with my hip.
    Excellent! That thought didn't even come to mind. Great tip! Thank you! We must have been posting around the same time as I completely missed this response.

    As far as going to PT pre-op; it needs to be ordered by the doc and we're not going that route. Pre-op PT doesn't exactly work with my body as I have a body like Gumby (no joke, my fingertips can touch the back of my hands). I've gone that route before and I left just as loose as I started. Surgery is scheduled for December 6th. Also, my husband is an officer for the merchant marines which means he is home for 90 days then leaves for 90 days-- yearly. I have a strict schedule to follow.

    Again, thanks to all.
    Last edited by AdultAmmy; Nov. 19, 2013 at 08:44 PM.



  11. #11
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    Keep in mind PT isn't all about flexibility--it's about strengthening to support the joint. And if you are so crazy flexible, I'd think strength would be that much more important?

    There are definitely things I could have done pre surgery to strengthen the muscles that support the hip joint, and if I'd done those things, I would have an easier time now. It's also a good time to develop a relationship with someone you like. When you're in pain and not very mobile is a crappy time to find out you just don't mesh with the person you're working with.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simkie View Post
    Keep in mind PT isn't all about flexibility--it's about strengthening to support the joint. And if you are so crazy flexible, I'd think strength would be that much more important?

    There are definitely things I could have done pre surgery to strengthen the muscles that support the hip joint, and if I'd done those things, I would have an easier time now. It's also a good time to develop a relationship with someone you like. When you're in pain and not very mobile is a crappy time to find out you just don't mesh with the person you're working with.
    I appreciate your words of knowledge, but I also trust my surgeons professional and educated opinion. He's an OS with a specialty in the foot and ankle. I was referred to him from the first OS I saw regarding my foot. Thank you though, for your input

    I think we're all getting off track here. I'm not looking for medical advice as I have a doctor, PA and nurses for that. I was looking for those who might have had this type of surgery done in the past. How long were you out of the tack. How was it when you reintroduced yourself to riding again? As stated before, I appreciate the words of warning, and you can trust me when I say PT is taken very seriously with me. This isn't my first rodeo. Again, thank you, everyone, for all your advice! It's certainly appreciated!



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