Nellie Kirk – Ankle Replacement Patient

April 11, 2016

Nellie Kirk, 60, loved to walk. Unfortunately, a fall down her stairs more than 20 years ago made walking extremely painful.

The accident was so bad that bone was exposed. The injury required plates and screws, and a week in the hospital.

“For years I battled with that ankle – the pain, the stiffness and the arthritis,” Nellie said. “When I got up in the mornings, I could not walk. I had injections, muscle relaxers and therapy but the pain kept getting worse.”

Finally, Nellie was referred to Aaron Scott, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Orthopaedic Ankle Replacement

Nellie KirkNellie had orthopaedic ankle replacement surgery, a procedure that requires special care and recovery.

Dr. Scott is one of the few orthopaedic surgeons in North Carolina performing total ankle replacements. This procedure is less common than other joint replacement surgeries: Although the components for these orthopaedic procedures are similar, ankle replacement surgery is unique and only for certain people.

Ideal patients are non-smokers and non-diabetics who are older than 50 years of age and weigh less than 200 pounds. Ankle replacements are not for highly active, athletic individuals or people who have a great deal of deformity.

Nellie’s Long Road to Recovery

Nellie got out of the hospital on a Monday. “That following Saturday night I went to a gospel singing program in a wheelchair. I just propped my foot up and enjoyed it all,” she said.

“Dr. Scott was very up front with everything,” Nellie said. “He told me it would be a long recovery. I could not put any pressure on that foot and ankle for 6 weeks, and full recovery could take about one year.”

Nellie went from casts to a boot to her tennis shoes and eventually back to her dress heels.

“It took a long time to heal, but it was worth it,” Nellie said. “I walk when the weather is pretty. I even walk on the beach. No one can believe I had an ankle replacement. And by the way, I just came home from church in my dress shoes.”