Ankle problems

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My wife broke her ankle on 12th Feb (a day before her birthday). She broke three bones and thankfully was operated on that evening before the swelling had set in. She had a plate and screws. She had her air boot off on 8th May now wants to walk again. She is worried about the pain and swelling. On reading the various posts I think this is normal and that full recovery could take many more months. This is not what she wants to hear!! I would welcome comments from anyone who has recently been through all this with any encouragement that can be offered. Thanks. 

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  • Posted

    Martin,

    Broken ankles suck!

    I feel for her bacause I was in her shoes 10 weeks ago.

    My opinion only,   She has to hang in there,  I’m up and walking after 10 weeks and I didn’t think that would be the case. I didn’t have surgery luckily but I did wear an air boot without any removal for 9 weeks!  If the doctor said she can start bearing weight than as she knows it’ll hurt but she does need to strengthen the bones.....Tylenol, lots of calcium and to my discovery compression socks, they help with the swelling tremendously bringing it down....

    They’re expensive for good ones but it’s her ankle and her mobility, so don’t get the cheap kind. Go to a good pharmacy if you have one or Amazon and look for CSX compression socks, guarantee it will help with swelling...

    I still ache and I know it will take at least another month or two to be at maybe 95% recovery.... She wants to walk and that’s good, and she needs to, but no overdoing it and having to deal with some pressure and pain is part of healing....

    Good luck to you both and speedier recovery....!!!!

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  • Posted

    I broke my ankle in the same way, and the recovery does take a few months but it isn’t constant. After getting out of the boot, I could walk without pain 90% of the time. It’s long distances or extra stress (like exercising) that need to be built up to. Additionally, the types of shoes are a huge deal. I tried to wear boots at first that covered my ankle and would help with keeping it rigid. When I moved to sneakers, I made sure that the bottom of the shoe wasn’t flexible- if you can take the shoe and bend it in half, you shouldn’t wear it for a while. I also avoided sandals for a while, because they just are too loose to support. I hope that helps! My best advice would be to just expect that every day will be different. I was able to do a full DC trip, walking all day, without any pain about a month after the boot, but another month later, I stayed in the dining hall for an extra hour because it had hurt to get there and wanted a friend to pick me up. But the next day, I was fine. Just take the bad days when they come, and they’ll become way less frequent over time. 
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  • Posted

    Hi Martin, I broke my ankle(complex fracture of 2 bones plus dislocation) on 16 March and a week later I was operated on. I have a plate and 8 screws! After the op I was in plaster for 2 weeks and then in air boot for 4 weeks but I was allowed to walk in the boot. A week ago I was told I no longer needed the boot and could walk 'normally'. I do walk but with a limp and some pain but no crutches. My foot swells a lot when I walk so I need to elevate and ice it several times a day. Yesterday I had my first physio session. I went privately as NHS physio are not hands on and manipulation and massage of the foot do help. After this session, the swelling was worse but I had neen told to expect it. I was also told by the doctors that swelling can persist for several months and is normal.

    Before my accident I had been very active. The two months enforced inactivity were like a prison sentence: not going anywhere, no driving, no work etc etc and I got really down on several occasions. BUT I did get better and now I am more optimistic. I want to stress that it is very important to move your foot as much as it is allowed, wriggle the toes and massage the scars once the stitches are out. I would have never believed that recovery from ankle fractures was such a long process but unfortunately it is so patience and perseverence are essential. I wish your wife all the best. Anna

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  • Posted

    Hi Martin,

    I wish I could give your dear wife a glowingly bright recovery prediction with true conviction. Of course, that would not be honest.

    She is like the rest of us in wanting to know with some certainty the unknowable-- will we recover from our ankle disaster without undue delay and without any demoralizing pain and suffering?

    As we say many times on this forum, all ankle injury/surgery cases are not created equal (just as with everything else in life). There are just too many variables at play (location & severity of injury; age; general health & existing medical conditions; surgical outcomes, diet & lifestyle, etc.). That said, in general terms I would wager that on average most patients are weight-bearing at around 6 weeks, and fully weight bearing sans boot before 2 months. Pain and swelling usually accompanies recovery well into the second month for many, and can persist for a long time for some patients.

    Younger, more fit, and luckier (in terms of injury damage) patients may return to a fairly active life with just a few limitations in a few months. Some, perhaps many, even go back to sports and previous activities like hiking and jogging (of course that may take even more months).

    So, some patients seem to bounce back from injury and surgery like champs while the rest of us struggle for a variable time period-- unfortunates can take many months and even years  to get back a sizeable amount of pre-injury ankle function (but rest assured I think the really bad cases are in the distinct minority).

    My gentle advice to your wife would be: while there are no iron-clad guarantees in life it will get better over time and for now just deal with it with as much gumption and patience as she can muster.

    If broken bones heal strong and in good joint alignment then the most severe problem and limitation with recovery is soft tissue damage (including nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc.) that accompanied bone fracture injuries.

    An aggressive rehab program (which includes diet and physiotherapy, including ankle exercises), I believe, makes a key difference between patients that recovery really well and those who languish in pain and limitation for too long.

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  • Posted

    Hi, I broke distal tibia/fibula 3/13/18. 5 screws,1 IM nail. I was no weight bearing until 5/01 which was bumped to 50%,I just got put to 75% on 5/15. I'm still in the boot,working on PT, weight bearing,walking. My ankle and foot still swell when down for more than 2 hours. Tell her to take her time and roll with the process. Walk when comfortable and try to go in brief periods,not long amounts of walking right away. Listen to your body Martin's wife please!

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  • Posted

    Hi Martin! My injury and surgery were on Jan 2, with plate and screws one side, and screws on the other, so I’m about 5 weeks ahead of her. She should be going to PT for teaching and review of all walking, both in and out of the boot. The swelling for me was unexpected, the pain and discomfort, not so much. What a different 5 weeks makes though. The swelling resolved SLOWLY and so does the stiffness and discomfort. I will still have a little swelling and stiff/sore after a long shift at work but not much otherwise.  A bit more discomfort now that I am back to walking the dog in the mornings (faster than usual) but every week gets better.

    Do the swelling and pain you describe is normal. My ortho actually said the swelling could happen for many more months. She and I are lucky though, he said having surgery the same day as injury gives a much better and generally shorter outcome.

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    • Posted

      She was on the ward with ladies who simply waited for the swelling to go down so her same day surgery was a godsend!
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  • Posted

    Martin I can totally sympathize with what your wife is going through! Its not easy to accept, but you have to find your patience when dealing with ankle injuries. I have no patience at all and that has made the situation that much more difficult to deal with. My physical therapist mentioned last week that ankles are the hardest joint to work with when recovering from an injury. I have two plates and several screws in my ankle. I wasn't allowed to bear any weight at all for 8 weeks post op and I will be the first to admit that those first steps I took scared the crap out of me! It was a huge relief when I took a few steps and nothing broke.

    Like others have mentioned compression socks will be her best friend. I am 15 weeks post op and my ankle still swells every day, it hurts to walk, and I am still on one crutch, but hoping to get rid of it soon!

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