Intense ankle pain 4.5 months after ankle arthroscopy to debride scar tissue/synovitis

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New Member

Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 9/30/2010 2:40 AM (GMT -6)   
Sorry for this long post, but maybe my specific description of my ankle pain story may be helpful in getting someone's advice or perspective!
Four and a half months ago, I had an ankle arthroscopy for chronic ankle pain lasting nine months after an ankle sprain, and the orthopedic surgeon found and debrided extensive scar tissue and synovitis tissue throughout the ankle joint, and debrided scar tissue on the ATF ligament and AITF ligament (syndesmosis ligament) which was causing a soft-tissue impingement in the ankle joint. Furthermore, the surgeon debrided extensive scar tissue throughout the subtalar joint.
After exiting the walker boot one month after surgery,  I began physical therapy and gradually increased my walking endurance over a period of three months from 5 minutes to two 35 minute walks each day (separated by 12 hours for each walk).  Throughout the increased physical therapy and walking, I had many occasions where I tried to progress a little too quickly (but never adding more than 1-3 minutes of walking in any week) and paid for it with a night of pain, but then it usually quieted down soon afterwards.
Four months out, I met my ankle surgeon to assess my progress, and he said that I was way too aggressive on how much walking I was doing, and to cut back to at most only 30 min every other day and to switch to bicycling more. Perhaps foolishly, the day before the appointment, I very slowly ascended and descended a trail to an 80' high ocean bluff (I hadn't tested much inclines before) to give the doctor feedback on how my ankle responded to inclines. Well, I was too embarrased to add the bluff climb to my list of activities he heard about. However, since that fateful bluff climb 17 days ago, I have had persistent, intense, pain in the ankle joint, even though I've taken the doc's advice and cut out almost any walking (not more than 5-8 minutes a day). Furthermore, even treading water or pool walking in a pool ramps up the pain even more, so forget bicycling as an alternative activity right now!  I've only slept every other night due to the pain.  As I write this late at night, Aleve didn't help enough to sleep and typical painkillers such as vicodin or ultracets have had limited effectiveness too. The pain feels like someone just rubbed a cheese grater over all the internal lining of my ankle joint!
Does anyone have any advice or perspective on this? Has anyone else had this type of surgery? What have been your experiences? I just saw the surgeon a few weeks ago, so I'm not going to contact him again so soon, and despite following his advice, I'm hurting much more now than before. Could a short trail ascent of just 80' cause this level of pain setback (even though my ankle is completely stable with stable ligaments, healthy cartilege and bones)? And now just trying to tread water hurts as much later as the pain after climbing the trail. Activities almost never hurt when I do them. It's a delayed reaction that starts extensive pain that night or even delayed until the next night!
And what can I do to endure the pain--it just goes on and on.

Monty's Mom
Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 664
   Posted 9/30/2010 5:07 AM (GMT -6)   
First off, I would like to welcome you to HW. I am sorry for the reason you have found us, but glad that you have! I do not have any advice other than follow your doctor's advice. I am sorry for the reason you are here, and that you have so much pain everyday.

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. George Bernard Shaw

Pelvic adhesive disease, Irritable bowel syndrome, SI joint pain, 7 pelvic surgeries for pain, ovarian cysts, adhesions, and a kidney stone! Wait, future medial transcriptionist I must say ureteral calculus!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9661
   Posted 9/30/2010 9:38 AM (GMT -6)   
I also would like to welcome you and others will come by with better advise...
So your 9 months post op??? can you seek out another opinion from another podiatrist
(foot doctor)?? wish I could help you out more...The incline might have been a set back..
can you use a ice/heat night before the pain hits...
just tossing out some ideas..
hope your feeling better soon...
Healing Hugz..
* Asthma, Allergies, Osteoarthritis, Spinal Stenosis, Degenative Disc (Lower Lumbar S1-L3 and Cervical C5,C6, C8 and T1), Fibromyalgia, Gerd,
Enlarged Pituitary Gland, Sjogren's, Ocular Migraines, mild carpel tunnel, ect.... "Would be nice if we could use the edit button in real life"...


Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 15830
   Posted 9/30/2010 11:42 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Eric, and I too would like to welcome you to Healing Well's chronic pain forum. As the others have said I am sorry you have to be here but glad that you found the forum. One thing everyone here understands is pain. We all have different stories to tell as to what brought us here, but pain is our main theme.

You know none of us here are drs so we really can't tell you what may or may not have caused this increase in pain. I really feel bad for you to be this far our from surgery and then have the severe pain return. You know our drs tell us not to do certain things when recuperating from surgery for many reasons. One good reason is for patient compliance and following through on instructions. I think you already know why this ankle is giving you the problems it is. I think you would do best by contacting your dr and giving him the straight up on what you have done. Not being honest with your dr about things is not good and can send mixed signals. Your foot for all practical purposes on the outside probably looks like it is healed just fine. But, its the inside where you cannot see that takes a lot of time to totally heal. Being an over-doer I understand where you are coming from and please know I am not chiding you for what has happened, but sometimes we can be our own worst enemy.

Other doing exactly what the dr says and letting him know about the incline event, perhaps warm soaks in Epson salts is about all I can really think of doing. If you are not happy with what your dr is telling you then maybe a 2nd opinion is a thought. I know sometimes it can be a little difficult getting a 2nd opinion after the fact too, but not impossible. I do hope that somehow you can get this pain quietened down and soon. Take care.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum
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