Holly’s Story: Recovering from Complex Foot and Ankle Surgery

It was a day like any other in October 2021 when Holly Goho, 48, tripped on two steps exiting her home. Her flip-flop got caught and she fell hard on her right ankle. She traveled to the emergency room where, despite the excruciating pain, her x-rays weren’t revealing a break.

“The pain was worse than childbirth,” says Holly. “My foot was swollen and turning black and blue, but it took a few weeks before we could determine if anything was broken.”

Ultimately, Holly’s x-rays revealed a break in her cuboid bone, one of the seven tarsal bones of the foot. She wore a cast for several weeks.

Never Miss a Beat!

Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!

Message and data rates may apply. Text the word STOP to opt out and HELP for help. Click here to view the privacy and terms.

Middle-of-the-Night Pain

Even with her cast, her foot was taking longer than expected to heal, causing her pain to continue. “I would wake up in the middle of the night because the pain was so bad,” she says. “I wasn’t walking right, either.”

Months later, while visiting Arlington Orthopaedics–UPMC for an unrelated issue, orthopaedic surgeon John Grandrimo, DO, was examining EMG scans of Holly’s hands and noticed her file also included an EMG scan of her foot. After discussing her fall and lingering pain, Dr. Grandrimo recommended she receive another assessment from Michael Werner, MD, who specializes in foot and ankle surgery.

Her visit with Dr. Werner revealed that she had compressed nerves in her ankle (known as tarsal tunnel syndrome) and a compressed superficial peroneal nerve at the ankle, as well as debris in her foot. They discussed her options and, given the multiple issues causing her pain, determined surgery would be the best path forward.

“I felt confident in the surgery because I trusted that Dr. Werner wasn’t somebody who just wanted to operate,” says Holly. “He really wanted to choose the best option for me to help alleviate my pain.”

During the procedure, Dr. Werner relieved the nerve compression, removed significant debris in Holly’s foot, and repaired the ligament damage discovered during surgery.

When home, she used a scooter to maneuver around to avoid any other missteps during her recovery. Her healing went well, and she is extremely pleased with the results.

“Since surgery, I don’t have any pain,” says Holly. “When I asked Dr. Werner what all he could operate on, he told me, ‘Everything from the hips down.’ So from now on, he’s my surgeon from the hips down.”

Now Living Pain-Free

Thanks to UPMC Orthopaedic Care, Holly went from suffering nerve pain for more than a year to a pain-free life.

“Dr. Werner actively listened to me and looked at the whole picture of my situation,” says Holly. “He doesn’t walk around the issue; he finds the most direct path for his patients to be healed and does what is best for them.”

And for Holly, that means fully recovering from something she calls a “silly accident.”

“I’m beyond thankful that Dr. Werner really listened and put forth the effort to fix me and help me be pain-free,” says Holly. “I will be forever thankful for him and recommend him to anybody.”

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About UPMC Orthopaedic Care

When you are dealing with bone, muscle, or joint pain, it can affect your daily life. UPMC Orthopaedic Care can help. As a national leader in advanced orthopaedic care, we diagnose and treat a full range of musculoskeletal disorders, from the acute and chronic to the common and complex. We provide access to UPMC’s vast network of support services for both surgical and nonsurgical treatments and a full continuum of care. Our multidisciplinary team of experts will work with you to develop the treatment plan that works best for you. Our care team uses the most innovative tools and techniques to provide better outcomes. We also are leaders in research and clinical trials, striving to find better ways to provide our patients care. With locations throughout our communities, you can find a provider near you.