On Bones, Ligaments & Duct Tape – Broström Procedure

“Chronic Ankle Instability” – that’s what the doctors called it. I’ve been living with a permanent annoyance in my right ankle for as long as I can remember. The need to constantly adjust it, flex it, make it crack as if there was something in there bothering me. Turns out there WAS something in there. Two broken bone fragments in fact. One on the outside of my ankle and one on the inside. As long as I was running, the endorphins masked the discomfort and I could keep going.

Barefoot And Minimalist Running

Ten years ago (two before I started running), a soccer injury resulted in a partially torn ligament on my right ankle. I wasn’t quite ready for the knife then and kept going. Running in sandals (and barefoot) strengthened my feet and kept me closer to the ground, where ankle twists had a low probability. So 8+ years after all of this my ankle finally has asked me to f#%! off. The ligament has pretty much given out. After the Headlands 50M in September last year, I was out running on Woodside on one of my favorite climbs up to the ridge. Everything was clicking, felt smooth and just perfect. Got to the top and started bombing down and within a mile, felt something in my arch. Stopped and tried to shake it off and kept going. Few more stops and I knew something was wrong. Did did step on something, zoned out perhaps and rolled my ankle? WTF? By the time I got down, it felt like an inflamed plantar.

Nope, no doctor just yet. Unfortunately ultra running makes us all Google Doctors – the feeling that we can figure out what’s wrong and then fix it without external help. So I did the R.I.C.E. thing, sat out for a week and was back again. Nope, that didn’t fix it. A couple of weeks like this, I called it quits for 6 weeks. Why six? Because. Those were very painful six weeks. Endorphin-withdrawal is like borderline depression. Biking, elliptical, roller blading – nothing really comes anywhere close to running on trails, the combination of sweat, summit and sunrise.

Broström Procedure

Finally, my wife nudged me along to visit the podiatrist and the MRI said it all. There was that broken bone fragment just kinda floating around and having a good time. The ligament was pretty torn and there wasn’t a whole lot of things holding my ankle together. So I figured, I’ll get through the ski season and then go under the knife. The Broström Procedure (with Arthroscopy) works like this: The doctors cut into the ankle, clean out all the junk, trim and tighten the anterior talofibular ligament (ATLF), put two anchors (screws) in there with an internal brace (I call it duct tape) and sew back humpty-dumpty together.

Do want to mention the ASO ankle brace, which has been absolutely amazing in the last couple of months. Up until a week or so ago, I was still running (carefully) and the ankle brace has been a huge help in stabilizing my ankle, enough to the point of running.

If all goes well, recovery is in about 8 weeks. At this point, I would die to be able to just run without pain, even if it’s just a 5K. Though, the stretch goal (haha) is to BQ at CIM, ‘cos why not? Last 8 years have been about distance not speed. Gives me something to put all my energy into so I pay real close attention to the recovery. So yeah, I’ve been in hiding since September, just soaking up the pain and now that surgery is just a couple of weeks away, figured I’ll start writing about it.


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