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Cross post: ankle arthritis and riding

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  • Cross post: ankle arthritis and riding

    Cross posting from the equestrians with disabilities forum...

    Hello Everyone! About 3 years ago, I fell off my mare and landed bad causing a bad break in my right ankle. I've had four surgeries but due to severe post traumatic arthritis, I still live in daily pain. My surgeon has tried everything including injections and we're at the point now where further surgeries are the only option. At this point, I have to choose between ankle fusion or an ankle replacement.

    I currently ride training level dressage, but I hope to work my way up the levels quickly as my mare ages (she's currently young).

    Has anyone on here ever had either of these two procedures, and if so, how do they affect your riding and/or daily life activities? If you had one or the other, do you wish you hadn't? What about pain, have they helped, or increased?

    Thanks in advance for your assistance!

  • #2
    I've crushed an ankle also- 3 surgeries- and have sprained the same ankle a few times due to the laxity of the ligaments and weakness etc. My strongest suggestion to you is to find a good massage therapist to make sure your muscles are evenly developed and that there aren't any spasms causing pulling of the bones in your body out of alignment. Pain medication has never really helped me and I didn't want to inject the joints either. Once I got my body balanced, improved my core strength when riding, the pain eventually lessened.
    Also, find someone that is good at rider biomechanics to make sure your saddle is appropriate for you and to make sure you aren't putting added strain on your ankle by sitting incorrectly.
    Good luck!!


    • Original Poster

      Actually, I see an Osteopath every two weeks, she aligns everything for me, so on that front, I'm actually good! However, we've got to the point where the manipulation while it helps, it's not improved anything long term in awhile (I've been seeing her every two weeks for about 2 years, she's the best in the area). Fortunately, my Osteopath has horses and also rides, so she knows what is needed to be an effective rider. She has advised against ankle fusion, but I'm still in the exploring the options phase.

      I also spent some time with a personal trainer and many physical therapists. My core strength is scary good (according to the personal trainer) and my balance is also disturbing (thank you physical therapist for making me stand on the bad leg on a rocker board while throwing a ball at a trampoline and catching it....).

      I tried an injection of Synvisc (typically used for knees), it's basically hyaluronic acid injected directly into the joint to stimulate the production of synovial fluid. It didn't work and actually the pain got worse by the end of the week.


      • #4
        My BF fractured/dislocated his talus last summer. Nasty doesn't begin to describe it. We were facing a less than 20% chance of the blood flow returning to the bone.

        Two things helped:
        1. A naturopathic doctor provided specific mineral/vitamin supplements to help with blood flow/healing and eventually stiffness (we saw him about 4 times over the course of about 9 months);

        2. The best physio in town did hands on manipulations to get the parts moving again (sounds like your osteo is on this path).

        He also lived in back on track socks for a number of weeks and still swears that when it gets stiff the socks help. In my opinion worth a shot for the $30 they cost.

        Good luck!


        • Original Poster

          I'm with your BF, the Back on Track products are miracle workers. I have the ankle brace and wear it when I'm having issues, or bad weather is coming, because my ankle is now a weather forecaster. My coworkers have figured out that if I'm limping really badly, there's rain or snow a-comin! Lol