Ankle Surgery Gives Swimmer Another Chance to Pursue Her Dreams

<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-35158" src="" alt=" Swimming means the world to Alexis "Lexi" Riley. "width =" 805 "height =" 453 "/>

Frustrated by the lingering pain, Lexi Riley was considering giving up swimming, a sport that she likes. But ankle surgery at Mayo Clinic has solved the problem, and now Lexi is delighted to be back in the pool.

Swimming means the world to Alexis "Lexi" Riley. But when an ankle injury left her with significant persistent pain and made swimming difficult, she was not sure she could resume the competition, and she was devastated.

"I became extremely discouraged with all the sport," she says. "I did not know if I even wanted to swim anymore."

But Lexi's family took care of her at the campus of the Mayo Clinic in Florida with an orthopedic surgeon Glenn Shi, MD And that made all of difference. Today, Lexi is back in the pool, working hard and swimming at the college level.

"Without Dr. Shi, she could not have done that, he thought a lot in the long run and we appreciate that because it's not something we want to do again," says the mother. from Lexi, Sara Dipaolo. "He had such a soothing presence, you just trust him, if I were an athlete, I would go to him."

Disturbing symptoms

Lexi's connection to the Mayo Clinic began very early when his mother took care of the Beaches Primary Care Center in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. With a love for football and flag football, Lexi began to see Jennifer Maynard, M.D. a family doctor specializing in sports medicine.

After a concussion when she was 11 years old and another shortly after, Lexi was forced to look for contactless lawsuits. She took the bike and the race, although finally swimming became her home. So much so that she set herself as a goal to swim at the university and dreamed of going to the Olympics.

"Without Dr. Shi, she could not have done that, he thought a lot in the long run." – Sara Dipaolo

But Lexi soon realized that something else was putting his dreams in jeopardy. Over the years, Lexi has had pain in the pool. After a visit to a local orthopedic surgeon, Lexi learned that she was suffering from a rare ankle condition known as subluxation of the peroneal tendon. The disease develops when the structures that form and support the tunnel housing the peroneal muscles of the leg are damaged or injured. This causes the rupture of the peroneal tendons.

Lexi underwent several surgeries at another local hospital to try to correct the disorder. After surgery in 2013, Lexi was able to participate in his high school swimming team for three years without any problems.

The debilitating pain settles

Pain relief was unfortunately not permanent. In January 2016, Lexi rolled his right ankle and the condition resurfaced.

"I felt a sharp pain when the tendon broke, and walking was very painful," says Lexi. "It started hurting me more and more badly this summer, it kept me awake at night because it was so painful."

Yet, the devoted athlete continued his two trainings a day, six times a week. But his uneasiness has worsened. With time, she could not hit or push the wall while she was swimming, because of the pain. At that time, she was certain that her swimming career was over.

It was then that Lexi and his family turned to the expertise of Mayo Clinic and Dr. Shi. He confirmed that the bony form of Lexi's ankle was causing the problem. Previous procedures had not addressed the fact that, due to its shape, his ankle did not have enough space for the tendons. This had a direct effect on his performance in the pool.

"When swimmers hit, they are placed in a position where the tendons are subject to subluxation," says Dr. Shi. "The pain and inflammation affect their ability to produce a powerful kick."

In August 2016, Lexi underwent groove reconstruction surgery on his right ankle. During the two-hour procedure, Dr. Shi deepened the groove in which the tendons of the peroneal muscles pass, so that they remain in place.

"We go in and we shave the bone to create space for the tendon, so it stabilizes," says Dr. Shi.

Savoring the victory

A few weeks after the operation, Lexi returns to the water. It was her last year and she dreamed of participating in the National Swimming Championship. To qualify, she should participate in district and regional competitions. With the blessing of Dr. Shi, she signed up for a competition in October. Then in early November, Lexi swam in the regional competition.

"It was my first real encounter when I was driving at full speed, and I qualified for the national competition," said Lexi.

This competition was just a week later on November 11th. Lexi swam in the relay without 400. His performance helped his high school team to win his 27th consecutive state title.

"For it to be on this relay it was incredible, it was epic!" Sara says. "She burst into tears when she realized that they won."

"[Dr. Shi] knows what he's doing, he's very confident and kind, he was very supportive." – Lexi Riley

"It was amazing when we realized we had won, and it was the last event of my swimmers career at High School C – was a very impressive moment," says Lexi. , who adds that she is grateful to Dr. Shi for bringing her back to competitive swimming a reality.

"He knows what he's doing," she says. "He is very confident and kind, he was very supportive."

When Dr. Shi learned the victory, even the doctor was impressed.

"She went beyond my expectations," he says. "I am delighted."

In December 2016, Dr. Shi performed the same procedure for reconstructing furrows on Lexi's left ankle. Since then, Lexi has healed well. Now she is part of the swimming team at the College of Wooster in Ohio. She is eager to participate in the college's conference championships and is working toward her goal of making the NCAA National Championships.

Learn more about Lexi's story in this video:


Tags: Dr. Glenn Shi Dr. Jennifer Maynard Foot and Ankle Orthopedic Surgery Orthopedics


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