Gary Fellows' Story

A New Ankle Gave Me a New Perspective

Unbearable Pain

A lifetime of sports, physical activity and work began to take a toll on Gary Fellows' joints. Gary developed severe pain in his left ankle that did not improve.

"The pain was intense for two years," Gary says. "I couldn't walk outside."

When the pain became unbearable, Gary made an appointment with orthopedic surgeon George Markovich, M.D. Gary already knew Dr. Markovich, as he had fixed his shoulder several years prior. Dr. Markovich gave Gary a cortisone shot to ease the pain, providing relief just long enough that Gary could complete a fishing trip to Alaska.

Looking for Answers

When Gary returned home, he went back to Dr. Markovich—this time looking for a permanent solution. Dr. Markovich suggested an ankle joint replacement, a surgery that is not as common as knee or hip replacements.

"I have treated thousands of people for hip and knee problems," Dr. Markovich says. "Historically, the technology for ankle replacements has somewhat lagged behind hips and knees. The process for this type of joint replacement needed time to mature so that it was an efficient and reliable procedure for the patient."

That time has arrived. Using the latest techniques, Dr. Markovich painstakingly determines alignment using a titanium rod, which also helps stabilize the ankle joint during surgery, and constructs the new ankle from within the joint using modular, tapered pieces. This technique minimizes trauma to the tissues and helps to expedite healing.

After meeting with Dr. Markovich, Gary agreed to have the procedure, hoping that he would once again be able to move freely from his house to his car, and anywhere else he wanted to go.

Dr. Markovich operated on Gary's ankle in June 2011. Within days of the procedure, Gary noticed a difference.

"Before, when I had bone rubbing against bone, I was in constant pain," he says. "Now, I have no pain whatsoever."

Bright Future

While Gary does not plan to abuse his new ankle, he does plan to return to a full life, without constantly thinking about his pain. "I just want to be able to jump off the dock into the boat, or get out of a pickup and hop to the ground," he says.

Dr. Markovich is certain Gary's new ankle will hold up under normal conditions. "My goal is to improve his function so that he doesn't have to think about it in his day-to-day life," Dr. Markovich says. "I want him to feel like coming here was the right decision, and we had a positive effect on his life."

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