Christine D Making Great Strides

“Before, I always had to prep myself, prep my ankle, just to get up. Now, I can get up and go. I’m free.”

When Christine Davis fell and broke her ankle in 2009, she couldn’t have imagined that she’d endure a 12-year-long odyssey of excruciating pain and limited mobility that would eventually become so unbearable, she’d sometimes sit in her car for hours rather than take a step, even crawling into her house to avoid putting pressure on her foot.

All of that changed in July 2021, when the 35-year-old Plainfield resident underwent ankle replacement surgery at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Rahway. “I’d love to be the spokesperson for it,” says Davis. “It’s the best decision I ever made.”

Chudi Mgbako, DPM, FACFAS
Chudi Mgbako, DPM, FACFAS

“Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have recommended it for someone her age,” says her surgeon, Chudi Mgbako, DPM, FACFAS. But advances in technology and materials have greatly improved the implants, and today’s fourth-generation implants are expected to produce better long-term outcomes. “I think more surgeons will have the confidence now to recommend this procedure to older and younger patients as an alternative to ankle fusion, which limits motion in the ankle,” says Dr. Mgbako.

According to Dr. Mgbako, the new implants, which are made of titanium and cobalt chromium, contour the ankle’s native anatomy more accurately. “We don’t have to remove as much bone, so more bone stock is left in case a revision is needed in the future,” he says.

After Davis broke her ankle, she says, “I had surgery to reset it, with screws and plates inside. It was never the same after that.” Dr. Mgbako, who heads the Division of Podiatry at RWJUH Rahway, says Davis “had developed post-traumatic ankle arthritis. A major factor for that is an ankle fracture that didn’t heal in the correct position.”

In the years after her original surgery, Davis tried braces, Tylenol and cortisone injections, “but the pain would always come back,” she says. Her pain took a mental toll as well. Davis stopped traveling because, she explains, “I was slow and didn’t want to hold everybody back. I was passing up promotions at work because I knew I couldn’t keep up with the pace. It took over my life for more than a decade.”

Then one day, while doing some research online, Davis found Dr. Mgbako. “He was so patient and kind, and he listened to all my concerns,” she recalls. “He said, ‘We’re going to fix that.’” And he did.

After undergoing several months of post-surgery physical therapy, Davis is no longer living with constant pain. “Ankle arthritis is a very debilitating condition,” says Dr. Mgbako. “Christine has spent so many years dealing with an incredible amount of pain. She was amazing through her whole recovery process.” Dr. Mgbako says the new ankle replacements will likely last 15 to 20 years before a revision will be required.

In the meantime, Davis is checking items off her bucket list, including parasailing, which were delayed because of her pain.

“It’s changed my life,” Davis says of the surgery. “Before, I always had to prep myself, prep my ankle, just to get up. Now, I can get up and go. I’m free.”

To connect with a specialist at RWJUH Rahway, call 888-724-7123.