Small Pins, Big Difference for Difficult Ankle Injury

When Surgery is the Last Option

When a bad ankle began to interrupt her active lifestyle, Amanda Barton knew she had to get help and see a specialist. She made an appointment with orthopedic surgeon, Jeremy Schwartz M.D., who had performed successful bunion surgery on both her feet in 2012.

This time, she went to him to find a solution for her injured ankle. “I was playing softball, kickball and yoga, but my ankle kept ‘rolling’ and became wobbly and painful,” Amanda says. “And it began to affect my daily activities.”

Dr. Schwartz assessed Amanda and told her the ankle instability was caused by the many ankle sprains she was experiencing, which weakened the ankle. “Most ankle sprains can be treated with RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation,” Dr. Schwartz says.

Dr. Schwartz did not recommend surgery unless it became the last treatment option. “Dr. Schwartz is such a fantastic doctor that he suggested I first try physical therapy, before going under the knife,” Amanda says.

When RICE did not fix Amanda’s ankle problem, she began physical therapy. “If RICE doesn’t work, we recommend physical therapy, which can strengthen your ankle and prevent the recurrence of ankle sprains,” Dr. Schwartz says. “If physical therapy doesn’t work, we actually go in and reconstruct the ankle using anchors, which are small pins with stitches attached to them. After surgery, the patient is in a cast for a month and transitions to a boot.”

Dr. Schwartz performed surgery and added ankle pins to stabilize Amanda’s ankle in November 2016. She goes to physical therapy three times a week and is back to wearing lace-up shoes. “This is a very powerful surgery that can get patients back to very high level activities,” Dr. Schwartz says.

Amanda cannot wait to jump into her activities. “I absolutely look forward to getting back into my softball gear and returning to my cardio workouts. But for now, I am able to visit the gym and resume life as normal,” Amanda says.

Use RICE at home to treat ankle injuries and sprains:

Benefits of meditation and mindfulness practice include:

  • R - Rest, sit and lay down for the first 24-48 hours after a sprain to protect your injury from further damage.
  • I – Ice applied for 20 minutes each hour to reduce the injury’s swelling and pain. Prevent frostbite by wrapping your ankle or the ice in a towel.
  • C – Compression stocking or sleeve to manage the swelling. Don’t wrap it too tight; it should fit snug but allow room to expand when your muscles contract.
  • E – Elevate the sprain at or above the level of your heart while applying ice anytime you are sitting or lying dow

Jeremy A. Schwartz, M.D.
Orthopedic Specialists of SWFL
2531 Cleveland Ave.
Suite 1
Fort Myers, FL 33901

Tags: orthopedic surgery, ankle surgery, orthopedics, physical therapy, RICE