New technology helping arthritis sufferers

Published On: Sep 21 2012 06:27:17 AM EDT
Updated On: Sep 21 2012 06:20:00 AM EDT

Lightning bolts striking your foot. Pain so intense you feel you may never walk again. That's how people describe severe arthritis in their ankles. It can literally stop you in your tracks. But now, new technology is helping arthritis sufferers.

Arthritis sufferer Jacqueline Devine dislocated her ankle during a bad car wreck 23 years ago. She lived in constant pain for two decades.

"It would feel like somebody hitting you with a ball bat all the time, in the ankle," she said.

Severe arthritis set in and she could barely walk.

"I was getting to where I wanted to use a chair and wheel down the hall."

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian Donley from the Cleveland Clinic combined two breakthrough foot surgeries to fix her foot: a foot fusion and a total ankle replacement.

"These are two separate bones and we fused those now into one bone," said Donley.

The foot fusion works in conjunction with the ankle replacement to give Devine a stronger base.

"What we see here is the metal piece that replaced her ankle bone. The metal piece that replaced her tibia bone here. And in between those two is a piece of plastic that's replaced her cartilage," said Donley.

An ankle replacement is not for everyone. An ideal candidate is a non-smoker non-diabetic of reasonable weight who's 60 or older.

Twelve weeks after her surgery, Devine said she was up walking on her own, even tying her shoes. That is something she hasn't been able to do without pain in years.

"I feel brand new," she said.

Thanks to the surgical combo, she's kicked her ankle arthritis to the curb.

An interesting note: before the doctor would perform the total ankle replacement on Jacqueline, he told her all her dental work needed to be up to date. Major dental work can potentially affect the healing process of the ankle. Bacteria from your mouth goes into your blood stream and could affect the new joint.

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