Ankles are stupid, the sequel

by Ginger on May 12, 2015

in I'm a Disaster

Have I mentioned before that ankles are stupid?

Lemme back up. (warning, venting & processing post ahead)


In early March, I turned my ankle. It was dumb, I was just going to sit down cross-legged, and something gave out. I heard and felt a big pop, and it hurt like hell. I figured I sprained the stupid thing (again. Yes, it’s the same ankle as before).

But I noticed the pain was in a couple of weird places. It hurt on the top of my ankle, like my last ankle sprain, yes. But it REALLY REALLY hurt behind my ankle bone, and on the outside middle of my foot (what I would come through google images to figure out was the base of the 5th metatarsal). Those two spots hurt to touch, and the one on the outside of the foot kind of felt…well the way a bad stone bruise feels, kind of?

Anyway, after a couple of weeks of this, I went to the dr to get it checked out. I got the first appointment I could, with a sports med doctor. The dr spent exactly 3 minutes with me, said I had a grade 1 sprain, and tried to dismiss me. When I pushed about the other two outside spots, he said, “oh, you probably have some peroneal tendonitis.” My instructions were ice, a lace up brace, and some exercises to keep my ankle from getting too stiff. He said I should start to feel better in a few more weeks.

Fast forward a month and a half, and the pain is not getting better, but instead getting worse, to the point of keeping me up at night. It’s swelling more, and as an added bonus, my two little toes are starting to feel a little numb on occasion. I think that was the part that pushed me over the edge & I finally decided to go see a specialist.

I found someone online who specialized in feet & ankles, who was in network for my insurance, and who could see me the day I called. That was May 4th, almost exactly 2 months since I injured it.

When I went, he took an xray, listened to me explain all my pain and discomfort, felt around on my foot and ankle, did some manual manipulations, then said, “well, I think you probably have a torn peroneal tendon.”

I left with an order for an MRI, instructions to use my boot (new doctor was pretty pissed at first doctor for not having me in the boot already) and try to stay off my foot where I could, and his email address to let him know when the MRI was done so he could keep an eye out for the scans.

There was some nonsense w/my insurance getting the MRI, but I finally got it done & the results came back today:

Torn peroneal tendon.

Peroneal Tendons Figure 2

I forgot to ask the dr whether it was the peroneus brevis or the peroneus longus, but it kinda sorta doesn’t matter which. It’s a torn tendon either way, and both those tendons are apparently pretty stubborn about healing.

Let me interject here: I’m utterly thrilled to have an actual diagnosis. I’m not thrilled that I’m hurt, but I’m glad there’s an actual reason I’m in pain, and that it’s not just that I’m a wimp or making it up. There’s this thing that happens when you have had dealings with doctors without any resolution where you just start believing you’re a nutjob about everything. It’s part of why I didn’t fight the first doctor more, even though I was pretty sure my pain wasn’t a “typical” ankle sprain, because I clearly am just a hypochondriac with a low pain threshold. So yes, while I don’t want to be injured, at least I’m not crazy.

So the plan now is one month of physical therapy, to make sure we’ve covered all the conservative treatments. If there’s no improvement after that, then it’ll be surgery. The surgery is apparently not the easiest recovery: 2-6 weeks totally non-weight bearing on that leg, followed by another 2-6 weeks of an aircast, followed by physical therapy for some amount of time.

According to the dr & my research, physical therapy doesn’t have a super great success rate with this particular injury (pre-surgery). Something about lack of blood flow to the area or something like that? But as my doctor said, you can always have surgery, but you can’t go backwards and be conservative once you’ve done surgery, so he wants to give it a chance.

Fine fine fine. But also…

I’m not in a hurry for surgery, but at the same time, there’s a part of me that’s like…if physical therapy fails for this injury so much, could we just fast forward to the part that’s going to get me fixed? Plus, there’s a bit of a scheduling nightmare with something that would keep me with such limited mobility for so long. Also also, it’s a bit demoralizing to think that IF the physical therapy doesn’t work, I’m looking at anywhere from 4-6 more months of pain and discomfort before this is all done.

BUT. I also don’t want to have surgery if I can help it. I keep thinking of being non-weight bearing, in a 2 story house, with a five year old, over the summer, and whoooooo boy does that sound like a massive headache. I don’t want to be laid up in bed for weeks (though the working from home would be a bonus in that regard). I definitely don’t want to pay for surgery if I don’t have to. DO NOT WANT ANY OF THIS. So I’m going to go to physical therapy, and I’m going to be a model patient, and do whatever they tell me to, and not do whatever they tell me to, and wear my boot, and not overdo things on the weekends, and give my ankle every additional chance to heal and cross my fingers that I’m in the percentage of people who ARE PT success stories for this injury.


Anyway, like I said, ankles are stupid.

Marcy May 13, 2015 at 10:32 am

Oh man. I broke the base of my 5th metatarsal once, playing Ultimate Frisbee in college — jumped and landed wrong, crumpled to the ground, IIRC one or two people said they heard a pop — and this sounds like such a bigger headache. I mean, pretty much all I had to do, after X-rays, was wear an Ortho shoe and be careful. Including wearing it to bed, but not in the shower. For six weeks. And then voila, done.

Ginger May 14, 2015 at 9:54 am

Oof that doesn’t sound like fun either though!

Marcy May 14, 2015 at 1:18 pm

No, but it was… an interesting experience? 🙂 I mean, I’m a writer, I guess it’s good to have broken a bone once, to have some idea of what that sort of thing is like… And I’m glad it happened in college, instead of chasing a kid around!

Cloud May 13, 2015 at 9:00 pm

I’m glad you have a diagnosis, and a plan. I totally understand the urge to just get it fixed already… but that recovery sounds tough! So I’m going to cross my fingers and hope you get lucky w/the PT. Did the doc give you any ideas about encouraging blood flow to the area to increase the probability of success?

Good luck!

Ginger May 14, 2015 at 9:58 am

I have my first PT appointment on Monday, I’m going to ask him then about what I can do to encourage healing. I told my husband, I’m going to do any and everything he tells me to do (or not do), even if it’s only “well, this MIGHT help” suggestions. And then cross my fingers!

Older mom May 14, 2015 at 4:34 am

Eewwwe, hate that for you, hope it heals really quick without surgery. In the meantime, glad to see you back.

Carmen May 14, 2015 at 10:15 pm

Oh man, that suuuucks, I’m so sorry. Tendons everywhere are super slow to heal because of exactly that, low blood supply. But this one in particular is miserable because it affects mobility so much. I will keep my fingers crossed that you and your model patientness (?) heal it up super quickly.

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