Living Actively After Ankle Replacement Surgery

When Dottie Miller’s doctor told her 79 was too old to have ankle replacement surgery, she knew it was time to get a new doctor. Dottie and her husband Wayne are extremely active retirees who enjoy hiking, long-distance biking, golf and downhill skiing in the Colorado mountains. But, arthritis pain in her ankle was making every step painful and causing Dottie to limp. She wasn’t about to let it keep her from doing the things she loves.

On the recommendation of friends, Dottie scheduled an appointment with the Orthopedics team at Henry Ford Health in Jackson. “At our first meeting, it was obvious the team was experienced and knowledgeable. I liked that they talked with both me and my husband about the details of the surgical procedure,” Dottie said. “I was a bit worried I wouldn’t be able to recover my full mobility, but anything would be better than the severe pain I was experiencing.”

In preparation for surgery, Dottie completed about two weeks of physical therapy to strengthen her ankle. The total ankle replacement was then performed as an outpatient procedure. Dottie went home with specific instructions to follow for the best outcome and recovery.

“Getting my mobility back was important to me, so I did exactly what was recommended—elevating and resting my foot, and more physical therapy to build strength,” Dottie said. “There was some pain and swelling as I recovered, and a series of progressively smaller and lighter casts. I graduated from a kneeling scooter to a walker and then a boot—but it was all worth it.”
Total recovery from ankle replacement surgery takes about a year, and Dottie is happy to have passed that milestone. “I am grateful to have about 99 percent of my strength and range of motion back. Wayne and I are looking forward to an active summer, and we can’t wait to be on the golf course again,” Dottie said.

Her advice to others suffering from debilitating joint pain? “Don’t wait to see an orthopedic specialist. And don’t let anyone discourage you. Just be sure to follow directions and stay as active as you possibly can.”

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