Monday, December 6, 2010

This is your ankle on steroids

Back in June, I had my ankle X-rayed and was told that yes there was a bone spur causing "anterior ankle impingement," and perhaps an injection into the ankle could help atrophy some of the scar tissue around the spur and thus relieve my pain. At the time, I thought I had a mostly pristine ankle, and the injection proposed made me nervous. Nothing I'd learned from my research confirmed that the stuff to be injected  was some magic potion that could atrophy scar tissue without also atrophying the healthy tissue in there. Afraid that I might cause more harm than good, I decided to wait on the shot.

Several months, two doctors, and an MRI later, I was essentially told the same thing. Only this time I was ready for it. First, the news came from a doctor I trust. Second, because of the MRI, I now have a fuller picture of the situation. I now know that my ankle joint is hardly pristine. It's already mussed up in there with osteoarthritis. So my fear that they could put something in my ankle that might damage it-- well, it's already damaged so I figure there's no harm in trying the steroid injection.

Essentially this is the first step before potentially moving toward surgery. It is possible that the steroid breaks the cycle of pain/inflammation, and allows everything in there to calm down enough that the pain goes away forever. Yes, forever. (I'm praying for this option and invite anyone willing to do the same!!)  Or, the pain could go away and return in a matter of months, simply reaffirming that we're looking at the right spot. Anyway, if the pain returns, the surgeon says yes, surgery is a possibility. Yes, it could fix everything. Or it could not. It's hard to say, but the specificitiy of the pain does bode well for the efficacy of surgery. But the first step, before doing surgery is to try a steroid injection.

I'm cautiously optimistic. At the very least it suggests that I should be able to run without pain for some period of time. (I'll test that theory tomorrow.) It's been a long time, so I'm pretty excited about the prospect. If this gives me a chunk of time without ankle issues, I also expect to get a not insignificant amount of grief from my husband and my running partner, both of whom thought I should have gotten the shot when it was first suggested six months ago. Oh well. Getting some mental buy-in to the whole process should only make things go more smoothly than had I done it while thinking that I was doing something harmful. We will see what happens in the coming days/weeks.

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