11 weeks post ORIF ankle surgery

Posted , 11 users are following.

Hello all, just looking for some insight on recovering from ankle surgery.  I suffered a fractured medial malleolus and fractured talus on may 21. I had orif surgery done on june 10th (needed to reduce swelling and normailze white blood cells).  I have a plate and 6 screws in there now.  I was put in a camboot before the surgery, then in a splint for 3 weeks after the surgery, and now in the boot again.

Per the doctor's orders, I started weight bearing about 6 weeks after the surgery, and started walking with the boot (with a severelimp) at about 8 weeks. I started physical therapy at 9 weeks and the therapist said i should use atleast 1 crutch as the limping will be bad for my hip and gait.  After a week of PT i moved closer to work (I started on august 22nd) and therefore switched therapy places. 2 sessions in, the new therapist tried a balance exercise, which didnt go well. and said i should use 2 crutches again because i picked up some bad habits from limping/relying on 1 crutch. Using 2 crutches will help me walk straight again apparantly.  The reason for the limping is because i still feel pain when i have my full weight on the bad ankle. it just feels like it cannot support alot of weight. I got really depressed as moving to 2 crutches felt like a step backwards. 

When walking with 2 crutches i still put most of the weight on the ankle, just use the cructhes for balance, and to walk straight.  I have very little to no dorsiflexion, and is actually painful when i try to stretch it dorsally. plantar flexion is ok, but dorsiflexion is what really bothers.  

Im actually confused because the doctor said i can move from the boot to a sneaker this week, but the therapist advised me otherwise, as it will not only be painful, but I will be limping again.  The doctor said next time i see her (september 2nd) i should be walking with no crutches and in a sneaker. I dont know whose advice to follow. I was going to start practicing walking with the sneaker this weekend, but not so sure anymore, as the dorsiflexion is painful when i try taking a step with the other foot.  

It will be 11 weeks post surgery this friday (8/24). and i really thought I would atleast be walking with no crutches by now. I am really worried at how much longer it will take to walk with sneakers and no support. 

So im just loking for some motivation and advice from people that went through similar issues. 

Thank you in advance

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  • Edited

    Not sure we're you live but I am in Nuffalo NY and most of our surgeons talk with the therapists. Maybe ask your PT to call the dr to discuss. I am not in therapy yet but can imagine how you feel going from one crutch back to two. Good luck.

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    • Posted

      thats a good idea. Thanks! Im going to therapy on the bronx as that is where i work, but I live in New jersey, where the doctor is located. Im going to give the doctor a call today to clear up the confusion and ill ask her to talk to the therapist. Thanks a lot!
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  • Posted

    Hang in there. After a knee replacement, my surgeon was ready to fire the home physical therapist because she was pushing me to a bend he didn't expect to see for 6 months. Personally glad she did.

    With my ankle, the physical therapist wanted me to balance on broken ankle without any support, less than a week after I was released to be weight bearing as tolerated. He didn't stay my therapist because I complained about the trauma his pushing caused.

    I think many of us would encourage u to do what is best for u. We all recover at different rates based on a lot of factors. And that off gait because of the boot is a big problem.

    I am still using aides except occasionally around the house because one leg is longer than the other and the knee of the fractured ankle needs to be replaced. Had hoped to delay that surgery for a long long time, but am concerned now. When I take that first step, I am more concerned about my knee supporting me than my ankle.

    I am almost 5 months post surgery. I still struggle with sufficient flex in the ankle also.

    Be aware, "full" recovery may take up to a year. U get to keep doing the exercises for a long time. The good news is, recovery does come, even if incrementally.

    Try to focus on the progress u are making. If u are still in boot and crutches when u see surgeon next, explain it is under advice of therapist. But do try the sneakers this weekend. Test out what u can do and for how long.

    Recent discussion on pain management on this site. Check it out. If u are doing nothing for inflammation, u may want to consider. At the end of a work day u may still need to elevate, ice and rest ur ankle.

    This is a great forum for advice. And encouragement! Best wishes for ur ongoing recovery...to sneakers!

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  • Posted

    Hi, I feel your pain, and it must be frustrating getting different advice. I can't advise further, except tell you my experience. I remember very similar pain and limping at your stage. My PT also suggested going back to 2 crutches for a while (I did try for a couple of days) and gave a lot of advice on walking normally.

    ?On the one hand, I think it's important advice, and you need to concentrate on how to walk normally again, in order to avoid problems appearing in other areas of your body. On the other hand, time is a great healer and you will find that, as the pain subsides and flexibility increases, you will naturally start walking more normally. The pain for me moved to different areas of my foot, as I started limping less and pushing off on my toes more.

    ?I never had a boot, so went straight to sneakers, with loose laces on the bad foot. I found shoes gave some support and were easier to walk in than bare feet.

    ?I'm nearly 5 months out and have a very slight limp still sometimes, when the pain comes back, but can walk for miles most days.

    ?Good luck!

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  • Edited

    Hi victor, I broke my ankle in February tibia and fibula, had surgery , plates and screws. Six weeks post surgery, the surgeon told me to walk, no boot. I started pwb for about two weeks then slowly took it from there. I had a good pair of running shoes, I took the laces out and used them to walk in. I had forearm crutches and for quite a while I went between one crutch and two crutches. To make sure your gait is correct take a long mirror and walk towards it, you will see clearly what you are doing wrong. Concentrate on walking heal toe. Take something for pain and anti inflammatory tablets, they really help at this stage. Don't worry about switching from one crutch to two it will get better. Elevate your leg when you can, as swelling can also play a role in the flexibility of your ankle. Don't give up on the pt or the exercises at home. Push through, and you will see one day it all suddenly comes together. I can now do about 95% of what I used to do before I broke my ankle, and at one point I thought I would never walk again. Remain positive and determined. Listen to your body. Remember we all heal differently. Good luck and remember there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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  • Posted

    Hi Victor,

    My ankle surgery was June 15th. Ankle fusion, 8 screws, and plate for big toe plus more securing screws. I am in walking boot, just started work again and I use two crutches, sometimes I use one, but most of the time two crutches or sometimes none, with limp. So now I will use two crutches to keep walking straight. I tend to walk no crutches but do not feel that I am ready yet, until there is less pain and it feels stronger enough.

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  • Posted

    Hmmm. I use an all terrain walker with large wheels. It has a seat, for taking a rest. Crutches smutches , I'm not a fan. I don't see the harm in trying a wide walking shoe. Make sure it's done up properly. My physio gave me a stretchy band and got me to sit and practice flexing with a gentle pressure. It's hard, seems impossible, but if you've been given the all clear, it is essential.

    Don't be fooled by the expectations. They are generalised. We all progress at different rates. I'm 10.5 months post break and almost 6 months post surgery and bone graft. I was told I'd be up and walking 8 months ago. Didn't happen. Never healed. Told me every few weeks it was all good. Made me feel useless. Even got me weight baring. Then after 4 months, umm sorry, you have 100% non union. Never healed at All. Then came a new Specialist and bone graft , plate and 6 screws followed. Back to square one again.

    Best advice I can give you really, is...

    If you have a gut feeling all is not right, you're probably right. Get a 2nd opinion asap.

    I'm an exception, but its better to be safe than sorry. Try a new Physio to. Sounds like that's not working. Mine said it would be too dangerous to use a balance board. Carpet with underlay just as good.

    Good luck!


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  • Posted

    I'm 12 weeks post ORIF (bimalleor fracture, displaced, dislocated) had cast for 2 weeks post op followed by aircast boot for 6 weeks (NWB). After that could partially weight bear, used the boot to weight bear but to be honest I couldn't wait to get rid of the crutches, used a walker for a week but like crutches found it more hazardous and I wasn't steady so I tended to use the boot and crutches as needed

    I'm now fully weight bearing, taking it easy of course, but still attend PT weekly and am returning to work in 2 weeks

    It will come together with perseverance but best advice is listen to your body, my PT and surgeon had very different views about post op recovery !!

    I find My main weakness / discomfort is in my Achilles, and i also have skin discolouration / bruising around the heel which flares up when ankle is swollen, anyone else have this ?

    PS I recommend Skechers "Go walk" they are brilliant when weight bearing, best shoes ever

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    • Posted

      For the heel I found this amazing cream bag balm my heel was black sore and cracked within two days way better. I am still NWB but while in the boot helped I put it on every night. It's greasy but works.

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