DURHAM (WTVD) -- Watching Nancy Bryson walk now, you'd never know something so simple was once a real struggle for her.
"I couldn't walk on ground unless it was level, and it would just take a small stone or something and my ankle would turn and then I would have swelling and it would turn purple," she recalled.
The pain and instability she battled for years resulted from two previous injuries earlier in her life. That's what landed her in the office of Selene Parekh, M.D. at the North Carolina Orthopedic Clinic in Durham. The remedy he suggested? Ankle replacement surgery.
"We do ankle replacements for the same reasons people do hip and knee replacements, for arthritis that is in the end stage, usually painful, with loss of motion," Dr. Parekh explained.
That includes patients with rheumatoid arthritis and those who get it from some sort of trauma, as was the case for Nancy. X-rays taken before her procedure showed her leg was tilted in the wrong direction. But afterward, with the addition of the ankle implant, it was finally back in proper alignment - thanks to two metal components and a piece of plastic in between that allows the ankle to glide up and down, preventing the rubbing of bone-on-bone which is often most painful for patients.
Typically, after the surgery, most patients will come back to see the doctor once a year just for an annual checkup. But in the vast majority of cases the implants will last for up to 10 years or more.
"Ten-year data suggests that 87 to 92 percent of these patients are functioning well year 10 years out from surgery. Fifteen- year data we don't have yet, but our expectations are that 15-year data will be very good as well," said Dr. Parekh.
Post-op for the surgery involves wearing a cast for 2 to 6 weeks and then physical therapy. But for Nancy, who's now two years out from her surgery, she says it was all well worth it.
"It was life-changing. I went from sitting down a lot of times when we did things to now getting up and being a participant in everything we do," she said.
There are some patients who are not good candidates. If you're interested, talk to your doctor or contact the North Carolina Orthopedic Clinic directly:
3609 Southwest Durham Drive, Durham, NC 27707