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Need insights on recovery from broken ankle
Old 02-02-2013, 10:20 PM   #1
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Need insights on recovery from broken ankle

I am three weeks removed from a stupid accident at home that left me with several injuries including a very broken ankle. I know each case is different but wonder if any others have recovered from a similar injury. Our FIRE plan includes extensive travel and I worry that I may never be able to spend 12 hours walking anywhere again. My goal to hike the App. Trail in one season may be gone as well. Doctor thinks the bone should heal, but I have several permanent screws and a chance for early arthritis (currently 41).

Just a reminder, if something doesn't seem right step back and reconsider.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:55 PM   #2
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DW had similar accident about 5 years ago (broken leg and ankle). Had the surgery, PT and then another surgery about a year later to take out the plates and screws.

She still downhill skis but can't run like she used to (makes it easier for me to catch her). She is usually a bit stiff in the morning and limps when she first gets up but is fine after a while.

You just need to play the had that you are dealt. Good luck.
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Old 02-03-2013, 12:27 AM   #3
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Actually yes I did break my ankle. I missed a step on stairs a little over 4 years ago. I broke my left ankle on both sides. I had screws on both side and a plate on the right side.

The recovery was not fun at all. I went to physical therapy for a few weeks after the cast came off.

I did have the plate and screws removed a year or so later. That surgery was no big deal at all.

I know that I don't have the same range of motion in my ankle as I used to have. However, it doesn't bother me at all. I am not a runner so maybe it would be different if I was.

We went on vacation to England a little less than 3 years after I broke it and we did a lot of walking and I didn't have any problems. Well - I got tired but not any more tired than I would have pre-ankle.

I am not stiff at all and don't see any signs of arthritis (I am 58 now) and really I forget about it almost all the time. The only time I really remember it is when I go on stairs. It is fair to say I am very afraid of falling and breaking it again. I really hated to recovery from it and it was very painful so I don't want to experience that again.
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:57 AM   #4
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Wow, sorry that happened to you, OP. I don't have any advice. I broke my ankle while walking to the gym on January 2nd (right after my deductible reset). I am in a walking cast and will see the doctor again on Monday. I am hoping to be out of the cast in two weeks.

I was planning on backpacking at least half of the John Muir Trail this summer, but I am re-thinking that as I will have to rebuild some muscle before I can get back to where I was. I am now thinking of doing shorter backpacking treks around the Canadian Rockies instead.

I wish you well in your recovery, please keep us posted. I will keep an eye on this thread for responses.

Best regards,

-helen
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:19 AM   #5
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Two good things you can do:

1. Have patience. These things take a long time to completely heal.

2. Work on strengthening your ankles. This can be as simple as spending a certain amount of time each day standing on one foot (alternately). It will also help your balance.
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:55 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
Two good things you can do:

2. Work on strengthening your ankles. This can be as simple as spending a certain amount of time each day standing on one foot (alternately). It will also help your balance.
+1

I read several articles that explained how important the balance training was to revive the nerves that had been damaged. Apparently re-injury is due more to the nerve damage than the tissue/ligament damage. I often sprained my ankle as a kid so I was very interested. I found standing on on leg at a time for a minute more difficult than I expected and I could tell one side was stronger than the other. Google the topic and there should be lots to read.
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:41 AM   #7
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OP here, I am told that I should be able to start walking again in about 4-5 more weeks. It has been a humbling experience as I have never relied on others for so much help before.

I am glad to hear of how others have recovered and gone back to their lives. I agree with a PP about having a fear that this will happen again somehow. Probably similar for others who face their first medical issue.

Omalley
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:43 AM   #8
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Here's some inspiration for you during your recovery
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=4925797056266
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:13 PM   #9
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I broke my ankle a few years ago falling through the ice while skating. It was a weird break - i needed no surgery, screws, etc. But I did need about 6 months for it to heal. I hike, run, and do everything I used to do.

Good luck in your recovery!
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
Two good things you can do:

1. Have patience. These things take a long time to completely heal.

2. Work on strengthening your ankles. This can be as simple as spending a certain amount of time each day standing on one foot (alternately). It will also help your balance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buckeye View Post
+1

I read several articles that explained how important the balance training was to revive the nerves that had been damaged. Apparently re-injury is due more to the nerve damage than the tissue/ligament damage. I often sprained my ankle as a kid so I was very interested. I found standing on on leg at a time for a minute more difficult than I expected and I could tell one side was stronger than the other. Google the topic and there should be lots to read.
I spent about 2 months in therapy following my broken ankle. Several of the exercises were balance related. The one I remember the most was standing on one leg and throwing a tennis ball at a mini-trampolene, and catching the ball while still on one leg.
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Old 02-10-2013, 10:12 PM   #11
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Have had both ACLs reconstructed....yes, it is amazing what we take for granted - I remember being very relieved after I could take a shower by myself - also, the slow recovery and physical therapy process and realizing how everything was connected and to learn patience. Balance is one of the things that goes when you get older and after injuries like that - you need to work on it for the rest of your life.
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:00 AM   #12
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I tore my ACL, MCL, and meniscus and partially tore another ligament last year at age 50. Reconstructed the ACL and repaired the meniscus in March, and was back running a marathon in December and a 50K two days ago. That's a totally different injury, but much of the advice given here holds. Have patience in your recovery, because if you do too much too soon you can set yourself back with re-injury or tendonitis. I found it best to stay under the guidance of a good physical therapist and set your goals with him or her. Then do all the work they have you do, but do not exceed it. Your muscles with atrophy while you are laid up and need to be slowly built back up.

Almost a year later, my strength is mostly back but not 100% on hills. I also have some calf pain, because I spent too much time with my leg up and relaxing with my toe down, which shortened the calf muscles. I wish I'd have realized this would happen and tried to keep my toes up more.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:08 AM   #13
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Shattered tib/fib 5 years ago on Superbowl Sunday (no, i wasn't playing.. ) Two plates and 10 screws to put it all back together. Still have the hardware in... bionic man style.. ha Turning 40 this year.

One word of advice: stretching. My leg withered during the 3 months (yes, 3 months) in the cast/boot and I wasn't diligent with stretching the ligaments. I never regained full mobility (probably about 80%)

That said however, the leg/ankle is as strong as ever and I run half marathons on the thing which should be comparable to long distance hiking or fastpacking. I very rarely worry about it and only feel it occasionally (when its really cold or I land funny on it). That said, you can run your fingers along my leg and feel the bolt heads just below the skin... still gives me the creeps !
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:51 AM   #14
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Lot of broken ankles on this site, I'll add mine. Have done a lot in 57 years but for my 50th birthday I told the wife I wanted to jump out of an airplane, she bought me a certificate for an instructor assisted freefall at an airport in W. PA. I in turn bought a certificate for my son to jump with me, we went for the training but low ceilings that day precluded jumping. One thing led to another but it was months before we returned for refresher training and the jump. The jump was a freefall from 13,500 with an instructor holding on each side then after deploying the chute at 5,000 and continuing on your own(wired helmet for instruction from someone on the ground. Son made his jump first, limited amount of instructors available, from a PC-6 and all went well. My turn, they loaded me and two instructors plus a whole bunch of other jumpers that bailed out at ~5,000 ft, we continued to climb to 13,500 then the 3 of us step out of the perfectly good airplane. All went well, FF to 5,000 then continued by myself, floated down the 5,000 ft and made it safely on the ground and ended on my butt but didn't dump the chute and it pulled me along about 10 ft and I pivoted up and over a clump of grass but my right foot didn't pivot. I was changing into boots before the jump but the instructor said "leave your running shoes on and you will have more control", yeah right. My son came running up and said "great jump", I said "I think I have broken my ankle" he(an EMT) said "no, you would be in great pain" but checked and my foot moved about 2 inches left to right. Well anyway, I had no pain, put on air cast, son drove us 160 miles back home, went to local ER, they call Ortho in he said "well we will do surgery tomorrow morning" Still no pain, after surgery with 8 pins and a plate took about 6 of the pain killers then was good. Broke ankle Sat, surgery Sun and back to work Mon, then got a call to move to AK 3 weeks later. Couldn't drive to AK so we flew to Vancouver, cruised to Seward and then road the train to Anchorage and continued to Fairbanks on train.

Before this I was running about 30-40 miles a week, I started running in AK a few months after surgery, albeit slow and short runs. I have since had plate and pins removed and continue to run. I m anot back to pre-break distances but not really due to ankle. Now that I am retired I have been working back to 30-35 miles a week, the ankle is fine, the Dr said there was some ligament damage. The ankle is thicker than the good ankle even 7 years later but it probably has ~90 of the original range of motion and for the most part does not give any problems. Won't hesitate trying the AP Trail, at your age check to see if they will remove screws at some point in the future. Will also add that PT and balancing on one foot to strengthen ligaments/tendons/etc worked wonders.
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Old 02-14-2013, 11:06 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronstar View Post
I spent about 2 months in therapy following my broken ankle. Several of the exercises were balance related. The one I remember the most was standing on one leg and throwing a tennis ball at a mini-trampolene, and catching the ball while still on one leg.
HaHa. I had to laugh reading this as it brought back memories of me doing the exact same exercise.
To OP: Broke my ankle in 2003 and can do really most anything on it now. had plate and screws in for a year but then had them removed due to it bothering me (screws weren't countersunk properly). It does take a long time for swelling to go down in the ankle after surgery. Can stay puffier for a year of more. Gravity like to keep that fluid down there. You are young at 41 and should recover well. Stick with your PT exercises.
Good luck
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:07 PM   #16
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OP, how is your healing coming along? It will be 7 weeks this Wed. since breaking my fibula.

Mine is coming along, but every once in a while I forget that I shouldn't run and am reminded within the first step or two.

I hope you are doing well. If you read this thread again please give us an update.
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:54 PM   #17
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OP here. I was switched to a hard cast on my right leg 2.5 weeks ago, when my stitches were removed. I had the hard cast removed last Friday, and now wear a walking boot. However, I am still non weight-bearing until at least March 15th when I next see the surgeon.

I started PT this morning and have been told to exercise the foot in a up/down motion to begin exercising the foot ligaments and building up my calf muscle again.

I have been a good patient and kept off my foot. I want to get past this as soon as possible, and don't want to risk a re-injury.

Thanks for all of the encouraging stories! My doctor seems to expect a good recovery for me as well.

Omalley.
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:00 PM   #18
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A couple of questions for those who have had plates and screws removed. It appears to me that it would hurt as much to remove them as it did to put them in. This is not merely academic. I have had for years a couple of plates and numerous screws.

1. Why? Were the plates and screws causing some kind of problem?

2. Did you request removal or did your surgeon recommend removal?

3. did your insurance pay for the removal?
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:16 PM   #19
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My wife broke her lower leg about 6 years ago now, in a skating accident.......compound fracture that was pretty bad. She spent quite a while in a cast, but the bone was still not healing properly according to x-rays, so she had to go to a bone specialist for tests, etc.. To make a long story short, her blood level of Vitamin D was very low, which may have been a major factor in the slow healing process. After being put on a megadose of Vitamin D for a while, the healing process accelerated, and the bone healed. It may have been a coincidence, but I doubt it. Now she is all healed up and says she can do 90%+ of what she used to do......it doesn't seem to limit her at all.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:33 AM   #20
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Not that it matters to the OP anymore but for those that might read this in the future, I also just remembered that if you get staples to close the wounds instead of stitches, you're in for a fun time during removal. They pull them out with a pair of pliers and when you had about 15 of them right against the bone like I did, it makes for a fun appointment !
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