1-Week Post-Ankle Surgery: When will I be able to lower my leg without massive swelling and pain??

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I (34 yrs old) am now 9 days post-ORIF surgery on my left ankle (plate/screws for spiral fracture and repair of torn ligaments) for a Weber C fracture/dislocation (surgery was one week post-injury). I now have a splint-type cast and go back to the surgeon for my first follow up next week (2 weeks post-op) and will be in a removable cast for 4 weeks, and then in a boot. I am non-weight bearing until I am in the boot.

I have been off pain meds for several days now and have minimal pain when my leg is elevated. When I put my leg down to get up to use the bathroom and shower, etc, my leg and ankle immediately swell from what seems like blood/fluid going down there by gravity. Putting my leg down results in almost unbearable pain within seconds, and is only relieved by elevating the leg again.

My question for those who have gone through similar ankle procedures is: how long should I expect until I will be able to be upright without this massive pain from lowering my leg?

I am not able to use my knee scooter yet and am now in bed with leg elevated 99% of the time because of this. I know that once this stops (or at least the pain is reduced) I can be more mobile and upright, which will certainly lift my spirits. Any advice folks can give based on similar experiences would be most appreciated.

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  • Posted

    Hello Andrew

    My heart goes out to you , on this!

    It is a long journal ahead, to be honest with you.

    The pain, may not be better, until the cast comes off. Keep taking your meds!! .they help alot. Keep it

    Elevated as much as you can. I have to still keep

    Mine elevated every day! You can read my story

    I listed here, for advise and help! I'm still trying to get well. It's been now 16 months for me. I hope you get better soon! Thank you Veronica 34189

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  • Posted

    Keep elevating Andrew you are early days. Crutical for a few weeks. Even when you get your boot this will be ongoing until the foot adjusts to healing and new normal -  you are young you will heal well I suspect. Do what your surgeon tells you at two week checkup. Bones still healing and not out of the water until re- crated to see how bones are knitting at six weeks usually. I'm much older that you but had same injury basically as you. Take good care....
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  • Posted

    I think it probably took about six weeks for the blueness and pain to disappear when standing. I hope yours is quicker, I don't think everyone gets it, but it is extremely painful.
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  • Posted

    Hi Andrew,

    I'm 5 and half weeks post op ankle surgery on both of my ankles. I've got my 6 week check up this Wednesday and hopefully should be in boots from then on.

    I do keep my legs elevates 75% of the time but I have found that once the swelling goes down. As the weeks have past that I have been able to lower my legs and the pain isn't as bad. I haven't been taking any pain relief for the past few weeks. Which has allowed me to start doing seated work out and has help when I've been going out the house for a few hours.

    The only think have had problems with casts were they have been rubbing on my heels, from where I've been keeping my feet elevated. I was advised by the nurse to keep my heels free from resting on anything and place a cushion behide my heels.

    I hope this is some help.

    Thanks Gemma

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  • Posted

    Hi Andrew, I broke my ankle (tibia and fibula) in February, had orif surgery in March ( plates and screws) . I think is important to rest your leg as much as possible the first two weeks after surgery. Don't try placing any weight on it. After they remove the staples the leg should feel better. The swelling will last a long time. I am walking without any aid now, and even now the ankle swells. Sitting up with your leg down will cause a lot of swelling, so try lying down with you leg elevated all the time. Take your meds as prescribed, don't wait until the pain is unbearable before taking them. It is a long road to recovery but you are still young and this should be in your favour. Be patient and remember to rest and elevate your leg as much as possible. Good luck with your recovery and please keep us posted.
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  • Posted

    Hi Andrew- I'm 16-1/2 weeks out after ORIF, 56 yrs old, and super active before ankle break. I had a trimalleolar break, so it may be worse than yours, but I haven't really had any complications, as unfortunately some people on the site have had. My doctor and PT are saying I am healing very well to give you an idea re. timing, at least in my case. Everyone's injuries and healing will be different. I too was totally off pain meds at your stage, and casted for 7 weeks vs. your 4, but the boot is just like the cast (they're pretty much interchangable), so you will need to add that time in for immobilization. The immobilization causes your ligaments to shrink, which is the second, longer phase of repair you will need to go through. I couldn't WB until week 7, so that slows things down a bit compared to you. I agree with others that the longer you are immobilized, the longer your eventual recovery time will be, because the more frozen everything gets in your foot. It took me about 4-5 weeks to be able to be FWB and get rid of the crutches, walker etc. That is such a nice feeling btw!! Once you get to that phase you have PT, and that's when pain meds come back to play. I suddenly needed two Motrin a day to take away my overall aching pain. The stretching exercises you can see online, to get an idea of what you will need to do (stretching your foot right, left, forward back etc.). Unfortunately, I have found the stretching exercises hours later to cause a lot of pain. There's no way around them, as you need to get your ROM back (range of motion). I do push with my exercises to try to speed up recovery, but then that means more pain that night and there is only so much pain you want to push yourself through. Your foot will be pretty frozen when it comes out of the cast and boot. I hate to tell you, but I still need to sleep with my leg up in the air 4 months after the surgery, but I know several people in my position that have gotten past that several weeks ago. The good news, is that life really improved for me at 4 months out, and I am walking all over (just not at a very fast pace). Most people wouldn't know I had an ankle injury by looking at me, except I walk a bit slower than some people. I can do most anything walking related, but only find going down stairs in a normal fashion a bit hard still, because I still need to get more toe strength back to do it right. My PT thinks by month 6 I will be in really good condition. I have heard it takes 12 months to get everything back (in some cases 18 months), unless there are big complications and delays due to healing problems (nonunions etc.). If you don't smoke, are young, eat well, and are fit, that will help to decrease some of the chances of complications.
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    • Posted

      Hi Patti, Sounds like you went through something very similar to what I'm going through. I wanted to ask you, did you have major numbness on the top of your foot. This seems to be what's bothering me the most but it's not mentioned by anyone else. The tight drawing and numb feeling on the top of my foot is very irritable and even burns at times. It's been 5 1/2 wks since my break and 4 1/2 since the surgery. Thanks.

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    • Posted

      Hi Paula, the irritability you describe , I had the same feeling on the bottom of my heel. It was herrendous and all I could think about. I went back to the plaster room and demanded they cut a window in my cast. The eventually did and it was instant relief. So it may be down to a cast issue. But after 4 weeks I'm thinking it may have caused some lasting damage . I hope that isn't the case but if I were you I'd go back to the plaster room x

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    • Posted

      Hi Vicki, Thanks for the reply. I'm not wearing a regular cast. I went straight to the boot/aircast. Whether I have the boot on or not and no matter the position of my foot it continuously has that numb drawing needle feeling. I know it's more than likely nerve damage but I'm wondering if or when it goes away.

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    • Posted

      Hi Paula, I also have major numbness, burning, and extreme sensitivity on the top of my foot. It also purple compared to the other foot. It gets very hot and swollen when not elevated.

      I broke muy tibia and fibula 5 weeks ago and my ankle was actually fractured in 4 places, requiring a plate and eleven screws.

      I'm in an air cast, which is really a big heavy boot. Surgery was almost 4 weeks ago and I'm 39 years old.

      I am hoping it will get better as things continue to heal and nerves regenerate.

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    • Posted

      So today is 6 weeks post op. I had my full cast removed and can weight bare for the first time. My doctor said bare as much as I can tolerate. I can get by very slowly with one crutch. But the pain I feel is in my knee more than anything?? Has anyone else experienced knee pain on the first walk?
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    • Posted

      Hi, gabloves, I’m feeling the same as you. But I would like to ask you if it’s normal to feel extreme sensitivity and burning ( same like electric feelings on the second toe) ? I feel a bit pressure on the middle of the foot too. The second toe is super sensitive so that even can’t touch. Is it normal to feel like that??
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    • Posted

      Thank-You so much for your postings... my Mom is 82... & her injury is very similar to yours requiring 11 screws 2 washers & a plate... we are on 2nd post op week .. I know our journey has only begun ... but you have helped me to understand more about what’s possibly in store for us TY

      Beverly

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