I am 32yrs old and had an ankle replacement in 2008 at the age of 28 at Duke University. I had had problems with the ankle for many many years with doctors telling me nothing was wrong and then I finally went to Duke and found out my ankle bone (I do not know the correct terms) was deteriorating. They performed the ankle replacement because they said I was too young for a permanet fusion. After the recovery process I seemed to do pretty good but I was limited to activities of course because it was still new and fresh , well after a year and a half and getting back into routine it constantly ached. I went back to Duke who told me I had small ankles and the hardware looked a little big so they did another surgery in 2010 and cut away some of the bone to make more room. After recovering from that I did good for about 6 months or so but then the constant pain came back. I used to workout some, eliptical, walking around the block but never running, jumping or anything straining as I didnt want to 'wear' the hardware out, but now I cant even walk from my car to the inside of a store without the most uncomfortable weakness and 'giving out' feeling. I went back to Duke in Sept 2011 and they took more CT Scans and test and said and I quote "There is nothing wrong with you take tylenol like everyone else."
I would like to know if anyone else has had a replacement and still has chronic pain and what kind of things do you do to help it?
Unless you have decided that you are going to be in that 5 to 10% of total joint patients that have continued chronic pain in their joints, you need to get a second or third opinion.
Since Duke has basically written you off as one of the 5 - 10% chronic pain patients, and you are not yet willing to go with that, you need to continue to search for an etiology.
Collect all of your studies and medical records and find another foot and ankle specialist to look at your case.
It may eventually come down to the fact that you unfortunately fall in that small percentage of patients with chronic pain, but right now, you would probably do best mentally, if you exhaust all possibilities. Maybe a new set of eyes on the case can come up with the etiology.
Of course, if it is finally determined that there is nothing else that can be done with the total joint, and you are living in intolerable pain, there are always two final options: an arthrodesis (fusion) or an amputation (usually only done for cases of chronic infection or nerve damage). It's just a matter of how badly you hurt. And, actually, fusions of the ankle have been done in young patients for a long time. Before total ankle joints were available, it was the procedure of choice for young patients and in those with heavy manual labor jobs. Even children underwent ankle fusions in some cases. So, an arthrodesis can be done at any age.
But, before considering the salvage procedures, get another opinion and maybe even another if that one doesn't help.