Several years ago, through a serious case of misjudgment of activity suitable for a guy my age, I managed to break my leg and many parts of my ankle. It hurt! The doctor I went to at first mis-diagnosed it as a sprain and treated it as such for almost 5 months without any noticeable relief. Not so much enjoying the pain, I decided to obtain a second opinion. An immediate x-ray (not ordered by the first doctor) showed all the broken parts and I was sent to a very competent and well credentialed orthopedic surgeon who recommended immediate corrective surgery. "You've got a lot of broken bones in there" He said. "We'll throw the kitchen sink at it including bone grafts, steel plates and screws to stabilize it. "And after that heals" he continued, "We'll go in there again and fix the abnormal shape and fuse the ankle. It will be somewhat odd in appearance and you won't be able to flex the ankle but you will be able to walk for at least short distances. Perhaps with a cane or walker." I appreciated his honesty. I said I'd think about it for a day or two. He said I was not doing myself any favors by putting it off. "The longer you wait, the less I can do and the more deformed and weak it will be." I thought about it and also studied the statistics regarding that specific procedure. Right or wrong I chose not to have surgery. I got an "Arizona Brace" instead. Along with duct tape, several other styles of braces and perhaps a couple thousand dollars in expenses for those other braces, I now walk relatively well for extremely long distances and the pain is very minor most of the time. I'm Ok with the results of my choice against surgery. I would not recommend that choice to anyone else. They have to make their own decisions.
The up side:
I never missed a day of work
I didn't have to spend time in the hospital
There was no opportunity for post operative infection and hospitalization
No opportunity for post operative crumbling due to screws or plates failing
Didn't have to go under sedation
Those are just a few but I think you get the drift.
The down side
For the first year there was a lot of pain, a lot!
The ankle is a bit tender
The ankle is a bit unstable
I wobble sometimes due to a lack of strength from underuse (it's getting stronger though)
The ankle looks rather deformed, maybe ugly
I have no idea what the future may bring (but that was also the case with surgery)
That's my story for today folks. It's been a long time healing and it's not over yet. However, it is a whole lot better than I thought the outcome and tribulations of surgery would have been. If you can walk fine today? Be grateful with each step and be careful......................Joe