Titanium Ankle Implant Gets Gift Shop Manager Back on Her Feet

When Linda Carlson of Hickory Hills broke her ankle in Germany back in the 1960s, everything from the price of a postage stamp to the value of a dollar bill was a lot different than it is today. Not to mention the advances in the field of medicine!

Luckily for Carlson, the acclaimed orthopedic surgeon who repaired her badly broken joint in Stuttgart did a commendable job.

“It was a very bad break at the time, and they told me I would probably never walk again,” the 63-year-old manager of the hospital’s gift shop, the IngallNook, recalls. “But up until two years ago, I was fine. I never limped or had any pain. The specialist in Germany had put a screw in my ankle, and that’s what I thought was causing the problem.”

As the pain worsened, Carlson devised a make-shift ankle wrap – a “mickey mouse” shoe worn over an ankle brace – to get through her busy work days. By the end of each day, though, the troublesome joint was swollen to five times its normal size. eventually, she lost feeling in her foot, and couldn’t even wiggle her toes.

An avid gardener, Carlson became depressed when she could no longer mow her half-acre yard last year.

“I have a high tolerance for pain, but I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do it again,” she said.

Then Carlson found orthopedic foot and ankle specialist Joseph Tansey, M.D. After a thorough examination, Dr. Tansey told Carlson she was a candidate for ankle replacement surgery, one of the rarest forms of joint replacement surgery available.

“While ankle fractures and ankle sprains can heal well, they can also lead to problems much later in life,” Dr. Tansey explained. “The ankle is a weight-bearing joint that absorbs the body’s full impact, so pain from an injured or diseased ankle can be especially debilitating.”

In Carlson’s case, arthritis had overtaken the affected joint, causing excruciating pain whenever she walked or stood.

Ankle Replacement at Ingalls

In November 2008, Dr. Tansey replaced Carlson’s arthritic ankle joint with a state-of-the-art implant made of titanium. The artificial joint’s design offered the potential to reduce ankle pain and restore mobility.

Dr. Tansey assured Carlson that after a full recovery, she would be able to enjoy more natural motion in her ankle and leg – and do things she’d always enjoyed.

To Carlson’s amazement, she was able to wiggle her toes immediately after surgery. And though she couldn’t bear weight on the new ankle for six weeks, once she was able, Carlson quickly progressed from walker to cane to no assistance at all. Several months of physical therapy helped strengthen the new joint.

“This really has been a wonderful experience,” she added. “I have no pain in my ankle at all, and I have very good movement. I can even cut the grass again. I’m so grateful to Dr. Tansey. He is truly amazing!”

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