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Foot & Ankle Problems Message Board

Foot & Ankle Problems Board Index

I've had (4) surgeries on my left foot, (5) if you count removing the hardware after the 4th surgery. The first was a bunionectomy about 8 to 10 years ago performed by a Podiatrist my primary care physician recommended. The bunion came back within 10 months. I went to several more Podiatrists for consultation and was told by (2) that due to the Metatarsal bone being too short (genetic defect) that I would continue to get bunions because the bone wasn't long enough to support my height, weight and activity level. I would need to have bone graft surgery (to lengthen the metatarsal) along with another bunionectomy to correct the problem.

I decided on a new Podiatrist and went into the operating room under the impression that he would use cadaver bone to do the graft. I came out of surgery only to learn he used synthetic bone. About 5 months into recovery, I fractured my foot at the graft site. It did not heal (non-union). The same Podiatrist performed a second graft operation, this time harvesting the bone from my heal. He placed the graft in a metal brace type of hardware 'floating' between the open gap in my metatarsal. It was supposed to grow into the metatarsal and fuse. I was non-weight bearing (hard cast) for 6 weeks, followed by a walking cast for an additional 8 weeks. The muscles in my feet and calf atrophied terribly. About 5 months after surgery I told the doctor, the foot's not healing, it's not right. He encouraged me to give it a year. Turns out the graft never attached itself to my bone and I walked around for a year with a one inch gap in my foot. This caused extensive damage to the good bones and joints in my mid-foot. At this point I learned that Podiatrist don't have the schooling nor the training that Orthopedic surgeons do. I went for several consultations with Ortho's and learned I now needed a procedure call a mid-foot fusion, along with another bone graft (metatarsal) and another bunionectomy.

I decided on an Orthopedic Surgeon and I had the mid-foot fusion around 5 years ago. 1 year post-op and my foot was still painful. On top of that, I now had ankle pain. Virtually no muscle left on the bottom of my foot (after 3 rounds of non-weight bearing hard cast for 6 weeks and 3 rounds of walking cast for 8 weeks) 3 consecutive years in a row. The doctor suggested the hardware might be causing my discomfort so I had a 5th surgery to remove the hardware.

All of my doctors used the same incision to perform these surgeries. As a result I have neuropathy and tenderness at the incision sight. I have developed (2) neuromas causing severe nerve pain. I cannot walk barefoot because there's no muscle in the bottom of my foot. It's like walking bone-to-concrete). I limp and the foot throbs constantly.

The pain continued even after the hardware was removed and with every follow-up visit there were new problems; bone spurs, neuromas (causing phantom ankle pain), bones shifting, bunion returning and constant pain.

The other day I woke up at 4 a.m. and was sure I'd fractured the graft again (been through it before, knew how it felt). It took a week to get an appointment with my current Orthopedist. As it turns out, I did fracture (break actually) my foot but not at the graft site. My dog stepped on my foot and broke a forest of bone-spurs that are growing on the top of my foot. The X-rays also revealed that the bunion has come back (despite my first 2 metatarsals being fused together), All of the mid-foot fusion has 'un-fused'. The bones have all shifted and I have severe arthritis in my mid-foot. The Ortho wants to perform another (more extensive) mid-foot fusion and he says there's so much bone loss in the mid-foot, he will need to bone-graft there.

I'm writing in this forum today because I'm devastated about yet another surgery. This is so very painful not to mention the time off work, loss of wages, large medical bills (over what insurance covers) every time. I've spent tens of thousands of dollars and missed hundreds of days of work only to be in worse shape than ever. I had hoped to play tennis again some day but honestly would be ecstatic if I could simply walk my dogs... I cannot and will not give up though. I don't want to be handicapped, and I will be if I don't do anything. I so value my independence and being self sufficient. I really need to find the best Orthopedic surgeon that specializes in foot & ankle. Please, if you have had a similar experience or know someone who has, and if they found an Orthopedic Surgeon that helped, I would really appreciate a recommendation. Thanks for reading.

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