Thursday, September 04, 2008

My ankle is all better, right? Wrong.

Before vacation, I had a cortisone injection in the sheath of my peroneal tendons. It took care of the pain on the outside of my ankle but did nothing for the pain in the back of my ankle, which was a little better from wearing the boot for three weeks. After vacation, I restarted playing ultimate, very carefully at first. It felt ok, so I played some more. After the third time playing, I woke up the next morning with a very sore ankle that was swollen once again.


This week I had a followup appointment with my doctor and told him that the cortisone injection worked for only 2 weeks and did nothing for the pain in the back of my ankle. He revisited my MRI report and said, "Well, the radiologist noted signficant arthritis in there. You should see a specialist yadda, yadda, yadda...." I admit to zoning out when he said there was really arthritis in there. I pictured my grandfather who worked outside and lumberjacked "for fun" as a way to combat the painful arthritis in his spine and not succumb to a wheelchair as his father did from debilitating arthritis. I pictured my mom's hands which are becoming more gnarled as the years pass with arthritis in her fingers, despite the rest of her looking and acting like a much younger woman than she is.

I never found the presence of mind while in his office to ask why he hadn't mentioned that before. I also didn't ask how a slowly developing disease suddenly caused my ankle to swell and made me limp one morning.

Either way, he said I should go see a foot and ankle specialist (orthopedic surgeon, not podiatrist) at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore. Yesterday I decided to go ahead and make an appointment (earliest available is Nov 6th - next available is sometime after January) because I really want to know what the problem is although I had little hope of really finding out.

After making the appointment, I headed to Google yet again to search on ankle pain. I found - THE ANSWER. I discovered a description of the pain in the back of my ankle! It was the first time anything made sense regarding my ankle. The problem is called "posterior impingement of the ankle." Something in the back of my ankle is getting pinched, simple as that. Now the problem is to figure out what is getting pinched, and why, and then how to stop it from getting pinched. There are lots of possible causes for posterior impingement, including subtalar arthritis and an os trigonum getting in the way - both of which I've been told I have. The os trigonum is a bone that up to 10% of the population has in their ankle which usually causes no problems. X-rays when I was much younger showed I have that. So.... I could still have the arthritis as a problem, but how it is a problem makes more sense now. Or it could be something entirely different causing the impingement.

But now I have hope again that we can figure out the problem and work out a plan to take care of it. I look forward to November 6th.

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