Broström procedure, or everything you wanted to know about ankle surgery but were afraid to ask.

Good morning, in less than 5 hours, I will be having my third ankle surgery in under 3 years. Whereas I don’t think that is something to be celebrated, I do think that there is information that I can share about the procedure. Especially if you are one of my friends that are sitting there thinking “wtf is wrong with her and why does she keep having surgeries?”

This morning, I am having an Open Broström procedure on my left ankle. We do not yet know if it will be a repair or a graft- they won’t know that information until I’m taking a really good anesthesia nap to figure that out. It’s almost like a game show- will she or won’t she wake up splinted?

Still tracking with me? The Broström operation is a repair of ligaments on the lateral ankle. It is designed to address ankle instability. More importantly, it is primarily used to repair the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) in the ankle. I mean, there is an actual surgery now to correct instability- Not mental, but at least physical 🙂 I kid, I kid.

As this is my third round with this- first in 2016, with a Modified Broström on my right, and then a repair/revision Broström on my right in May. Today we are doing an Open Brostrom on my left to correct 24 years of wear and tear. If I were being completely honest, I would say a “lifetime” of wear and tear.

Why am I writing about the Broström procedure? Because there is incredibly limited content online that isn’t clinical about this and I would like my experiences to help someone.

The why:

We are doing this surgery because I’ve failed at nonsurgical ankle repair options- we’ve tried PT, Boot, rest, ice, reduction in weight-bearing- to no avail.

The who:

I’m working with a tremendous surgeon team at Plano Orthopedics– both Dr. Crates and his PA Jackie have been with me since the beginning of this journey and I trust their guidance explicitly. They are not cut first practitioners but they will flag when it’s time to move past traditional therapeutic methods and repair.

What life will be like for me for the next 4-6 weeks after the Broström procedure:

First things first, and I can’t stress this enough- the first 7-10 days of life after the Broström procedure is rough. There is very little information about this online, but I’m here to tell you, it sucks, but you can and will get through it.

Everyone has a different variation of the procedure but here are my takeaways (PLEASE USE THE PROTOCOL THAT YOUR DOCTOR PRESCRIBES FOR YOU- these are my experiences.)

  1. Assuming that this is a repair and not a graft, I will be weight-bearing today. Not walk around the block, but I will be able to get myself to the bathroom and back.
  2. For me, this is an outpatient surgery. I will be home this afternoon, assuming no issues.
  3. It’s all about that ice, ice baby. Ice will be your best friend. Keep elevated and ice as much as you can tolerate. It’s all fun and games until after the meds wear off and keeping the swelling down is critical.
  4. Don’t be a martyr- stay in front of the pain. I know, I know, pain meds are the devil. That doesn’t matter- what sucks more is uncontrolled pain when you literally have a cut open ankle. Stay on top of the meds that your surgical team prescribes. I don’t do well with a lot of the normal paid meds, so I will be on good, ole-fashioned Morphine for a few days and then step down to Tramadol.
  5. Did I say “keep the ice going?” You can get an ice machine, use ice packs and/or frozen veggies. I’ve done all three. I truly have a love/hate relationship with ice- I hate the way it feels, but I love the way it works.
  6. Stay in your boot. Yes, the doctor will put you in a splint or boot (Depending on if you are having a repair or graft replacement) and LEAVE IT ON. Sure it sucks to sleep in a boot, but it’s there to protect you. Don’t be me and try to sneak out of it. It SUCKS.
  7. Stock up on cozy clothes that will go over the boot. I have found that shorts plus t-shirts or pj’s that are shorts make life easier for the first week or so.
  8. Buy a shower chair. Just get over yourself and do it. It makes life easy. You will want a shower and this is a safe way to do it. Unless you know, you like to be held upright, butt naked with someone helping you, then go for it.
  9. Speaking of showers- buy Glad Press & Seal and wrap, wrap, wrap that bandage up. It does create a mostly waterproof seal that will let you hose yourself down.
  10. Force yourself to eat with the meds- pb&j’s are my go to’s. And Goldfish Crackers. Dear Sweet Baby Happiness, Goldfish crackers have been my salvation for the past two surgeries and today they are at my bedside for when I get home this afternoon. They are literally the snack that smiles back and you need smiles when you are getting through with this. (not sponsored, but my love of the Goldfish is real.)
  11. Buy ProBiotics and take them. Just do it. Between the pain meds, antibiotics and sitting on your butt, your gut will thank you.
  12. Be patient with yourself. You aren’t going to wake up the day after and feel awesome, but you will eventually feel better.
  13. Don’t be afraid to talk to your surgical team if you have any questions. I am lucky that my team at POSMC has a great communication system and i can shoot off email questions at any time.

I’m going to keep this conversation going- stay tuned for information about “life post Broström procedure.”

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