Surfer Returns to Riding the Waves after Innovative Ankle Surgery

Scott Huegele loved his active lifestyle – including surfing, hitting the links and even walking his dogs. But he had to put most of those activities on hold after decades of chronic ankle pain became unbearable.

At age 15, Huegele was involved in a motorcycle accident, and coupled with years of basketball and several sprains, his ankle deteriorated over time.  Finally in 2016, Huegele found himself unable to walk his two dogs around the block or play a round of golf without having to rest his ankle for several days.

“At one point I was told the only thing they could do for me was prescribe a medication for the pain that would eventually stop working,” said Huegele. “Once the medication stopped working, I was informed that the final option was to have an ankle fusion that would allow me to walk pain-free, but also cause me to lose the function of my ankle.”

Soon after, Huegele’s wife learned of an advanced technology orthopedic surgeons were using called the InBone Ankle Replacement.

“A total ankle replacement is not something suggested immediately, but it was the best option for Scott  at the time,” said William McGarvey, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital and Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. “An ankle replacement is much newer than other joint replacements such as hip and knee, and it also can be a more challenging procedure because the ankle is so closely associated with the foot.”

Dr. McGarvey performed the ankle replacement on Huegele in May 2016 and repositioned bones in his foot so he could walk properly again. Huegele was out of the hospital one day after the procedure, followed by six weeks of resting his ankle and six weeks of physical therapy. He also enlisted help from a personal trainer and massage therapist to aid in his recovery.

Today, Huegele is nearly back to his normal, active lifestyle. Just last month at his home in Costa Rica, he surfed for several hours each day and then played golf in the afternoon – something that was almost impossible to do prior to the replacement.

“Scott’s journey is really phenomenal. Not only can I see the physical repairs that have been made, but I can also see the joy that has been brought back to his life now that he’s able to pursue his passions again,” said Dr. McGarvey. “He also has been incredibly dedicated to this journey which makes all the difference.”

“I can’t speak highly enough about Dr. McGarvey, the team at Memorial Hermann Katy, and my ankle replacement. I know it’s not for everyone, but for me, it has made a huge difference in my quality of life.  The recovery took time, but the hard work has been worth it,” said Huegele.

Dr. McGarvey noted the importance of patients doing their research to find the right option and the right surgeon to perform any joint procedure, especially ankle replacements.

“I want to emphasize the importance of finding a qualified surgeon who has vast experience in performing ankle replacements,” said Dr. McGarvey. “Even though ankle replacements are becoming more popular, lasting longer and providing better patient satisfaction, we are still working with manufacturers on analysis and refinement.”

The medical teams affiliated with the Memorial Hermann Joint Centers are ready to help you find the best plan to treat your joint pain, from new prescription options to joint replacement, and everything in between.  Learn more about joint replacement at Memorial Hermann.

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Tashika Varma