Black Boot = Frozen/Locked Ankle

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Question for others: I went from an external fixation device to the black boot three days ago and was told to wear the boot 24/7 for the next two weeks - NWB. I pulled it off to wash my foot yesterday and my ankle is 'locked' or frozen into the position of the boot. Before, it was more mobile and I could move it up/down more. Have others had this experience?  Is there anything I can do now to help my flexibility later?

Thanks much. This groups has been a life saver.

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46 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Mary, I've been in a boot now for 4 weeks. I'm allowed to keep it off when I'm at home as long as I'm not moving around much. I find my leg very stiff after I've had it on all day and it's hard to move it much. But it does loosen up after it's been off for a few hours. Start slowly moving it and it should get better. If not then I'd call your doctor and see what they say. Hope this helps a little bit!

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    • Posted

      You are in week 6 right? Right after my surgery i went into a boot after the second week i took it off from time to time to move my ankle so it wont Become stiff.
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    • Posted

      Hi, yes I went into the boot 2 weeks after my surgery. I kept it on 24/7 for the first few days as I was scared to have it exposed but it was uncomfortable to sleep in. I go back on 9/6 for more X-rays and hopefully will be given the go ahead to begin PWB.
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    • Posted

      Good luck i have to go every week now.but today i put weight on my ankle it felt like pins and needles it wasnt as bad as i thought it would be..i try to move my ankle as much as possible to keep it from gettin stiff im so glad i dont have to wear that boot anymore i left it at the doctors office
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  • Posted

    I had same process. 3 weeks external fixator then ORIF surgery with placement in walking boot but NWB. I too has 2 weeks with boot in place, then was allowed to take off up to 3 times daily to begin moving ankle to promote flexibility. I would suggest the "frozen" u are experiencing is part of the process. Wait until u are given directions to begin movement such as writing alphabetic with foot. My doc's direction when I was allowed to actively begin moving ankle but still NWB. When not directly looking at my foot I thought I had great flexibility...not so much. Then u should be scheduled for PT. Mine came when I was released to weight bearing as tolerated. And that was what my PT was all about, getting the bend and flexibility back. I'm afraid I'm one who has not regained quickly and am still having trouble with pretty bad stiffness almost 3 months after release to WBAT. Do keep in mind this is a process of hard work and can take up to a year to return to ur new normal. That "year" part is something I hold onto dearly so I can acknowledge how far I have come from where I have been.

    It gets better. Hang in there dear heart. Best wishes in ur recovery.

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    • Posted

      Thanks!  Its nice to hear I am not alone.  Its funny but I can point my left foot like a ballet dancer and my right foot is locked into a 45 degree angle.  I guess my ballet career has ended before it began.  ;-)
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  • Posted

    Hey Mary

    I never experience that but i honestly donr listen to thw doctor on some things but not all..I am on my 5th week my doctor told me i dont have to wear my boot at all anymore right after surgery went right into a boot..i think u should keeo ur feet out the boot for min to try to move ur ankle if that do not work call your doctor

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    • Posted

      Thanks Shantell,

      I think I will take your advice and try and move my ankle a little bit out of the boot.

      Best,

      Julie

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    • Posted

      You are welcome try to massage and move it slowly that should work take it off twice a day and try to work your ankle.. At the beginning it was hard for me i panic about any little thing but im better now i just move my ankle up and down my doctor said i wont nerd therapy...everything will work out trust me. Take it easy and the best of luck keep me informed
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    • Posted

      Thanks Shantel,

      I massaged my foot last evening and felt it loosened a bit.  I will keep doing this twice a day and hope to avoid therapy as well.

      Thanks again,

      Julie

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  • Posted

    Hi Mary, I completely discloated and broke my ankle on May 10th.  After surgery 3 days later, I wore the boot for a long time.  My left ankle is actually frozen.  I've had PT for 6 weeks, twice a week.  My doctor again wanted me to have a second round of PT for 6 weeks.  My ankle will not move and my doctor said it could be frozen but too early to tell.  I have the screws/metal in as well.  I literally can't move it.  I can wiggle my toes.  I use a cane now and walk with a limp.  My PT told me my ankle could be frrozen too.  I've used bands, and tried for weeks to losen it up.  Nothing.  I hope you have better luck than me.   Beth

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    • Posted

      Oh Lamborghini Gal,

      Your post makes me so sad.  I probably should not read any of these as I get my boot in 11 more days (for 6 more weeks )  following 7 weeks in a cast.  I also have screws and a plate- (both sides)- and I am so afraid of even moving the ankle.  I am 6 weeks post accident and I still have more pain than I ever expected at this stage.  I have had the cast changed twice and both times, my foot was repositioned and I was told it would help me to be able to walk easier (something about the achilles tendon stretching...)

      My husband had a frozen shoulder- I had no clue this could happen to your foot too.  I am so sorry for you- I cannot imagine the frustration.

      All physicians apparently do things a little differently for sure.

      These injuries will for sure get better for all of us - we are all getting a good dose of learning patience.  I also know that most folks that search out the forum are those of us in the 'midst of the storm' and there are many success stories that we do not tend to see..  I really appreicate reading all these posts and learning about what to expect.  Guess the bottom line is- "no pain, no gain" and we need to be ready for hard, long work.  

      Beth, I am sincere in when I tell you that I pray that your ankle starts moving soon.  I know surgery may be an option (only because my husband had it on his shoulder) but hoping it does not go that route - 

      Hang in there- keep your eyes on future days.

      Jan

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    • Posted

      Jan, thank you so much for the sweet and encouraging words!  I'm doing pretty good.  I just can't cross my legs anymore, or put my left foot under my right leg (like I use to), but I'm so glad I can at least walk - even with a limp, I'm thankful!  :-) 

      I've really learned a lot from this forum and it seems like everyone here is always so positive and nice!

      Thank you again for the kind words.  And you're right:  No pain, no gain. 

      Beth

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    • Posted

      Oh, one more bit of good news:  For the first time since my accident on May 10th, I took a STANDING SHOWER August 31st!  It was so nice to be able stand, while showering!  The shower chair was so helpful and absolutely wonderful, but (to me) nothing beats taking a good ole' standing shower!  LOL!  :-)

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    • Posted

      I am so sorry!  I hope that given the break was in your left foot - you can still drive.

      I feel like my issue is the tendons on the top of my foot.  Time will tell.

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    • Posted

      Hey Mary, would u talk a little bit more about the tendons on the top of ur foot. I have something going on that starts between my great and second toe, across the top and over the front of my ankle. Almost like I am wearing a sandal with a triangular top. It is numb and swells. I asked PT about and was told she felt no swelling. Doc acted like this will pass. Contact with both has ended. But it really seems to be affecting my ability to get flexibility back. I am 5 months post ORIF surgery, 3 months post release WBAT, had only 12 PT contacts. I do rub, but really don't know what I'm doing and get no relief.

      Thanks!

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    • Posted

      The area that doesn't feel right is right where my leg and foot meet.  It feels very stiff and thick - for want of a better phrase.  Almost like a thick band has been inserted into my foot at the folding point at the top of my foot.

      No issues with my toes.  (fingers crossed)

       

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    • Posted

      This has been common for me 2x's. Broke RT ankle almost 20 yes ago and remember that feeling. Distance has brought on a kind of forgetting and I do not remember it being this extreme. I woke recently thinking I need to remove that ankle wrap...which I was not wearing.

      Good thing is it eventually cleared the RT ankle and has not been an issue since.

      I use to describe the sensation as having my ankle wrapped with hundreds of rubber bands that tightened with activity.

      We can only keep encouraging one another, yeah? It does get better...It does get better...

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    • Posted

      Hi Mary, thankfully, I can still drive.  I didn't drive for a few weeks, but it's nice to be able to get back out and actually drive myself places - including work!  LOL

      Tendons can be a funny thing!  They can be very irritating, that's for sure.  I hope your foot starts feeling better soon.

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    • Posted

      The rubber band sensation is exactly what I am experiencing.  This is good news that it should pass.   :-)
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    • Posted

      How long were you out of work? I've been out since July 12th with trimalleolar fracture. I'm trying to guess when I might be going back but everything I've read/heard points to at least a 3-4 month recovery period.

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    • Posted

      Just checking.  I had typed a response and it wouldn't work.  Shantell, thank you.  I wish you the best as well.  :-)

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    • Posted

      Hi SS315, I was out of work 6 weeks.  I went back with a walker and then a cane.  I'm still using the cane, because I limp now, but thankfully, I'm at least walking.  :-) 

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    • Posted

      Wow, you weren't out long! I feel kind of guilty being out but I don't want to rush back and end up doing more damage. I cannot wait to walk again. Congratulations to you, you're doing it!

      Susan

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    • Posted

      SS315, I sure wasn't and I wish I had stayed out a little longer.  While I could technically go back (using the walker), I really would rather have waited a couple of more weeks.  Don't feel guilty for being out - no matter how long it takes you.  Everyone is different and you're right when you say that you don't want to rush it!  I don't blame you one bit!  Thank you!  I'm so glad I'm walking again / a little different and much slower with a cane, but I'm just thrilled to be walking.  I know you can't wait to walk again either.  I actually dreamed I was walking and this was right after my accident.  I had several dreams about being able to walk and I'd wake up and reality would slap me in the face!  Hahaha!  But I hope you are walking again soon and remember, take your time going back to work.  My doctor gave me a note for work and he wrote 6 to 12 weeks!  I wish I could have taken all 3 months.  LOL  :-)

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    • Posted

      Thanks for making me feel a bit better about my guilt. I shouldn't feel this way at all, especially because I fell on uneven steps AT WORK and I'm the 3rd person to have fallen on these steps. They still haven't fixed them and they probably never will. I'm going to take my sweet time for sure smile I just hope I can start the PWB and it's not too painful. We all have to keep on keeping on.

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    • Posted

      I am amazed that Lambborghini girl was out only 6 weeks. I am at 6 weeks tomorrow and i still am unable to keep my leg down from more than 30 min.    My toes are still so swollen they look like sausages (From what my husband tells me- the cast is over them so i cannot see them).

      The surgeon asked me what I do for work and when I told him- he told me I would be out for at least 3 mos (12 weeks). I am sure my age of 58 perhaps played a part in that and the fact that it is my  right foot so cannot drive frown)- though i have to say even if it was my left- I would not know where to put this huge cast even if I drove.  There is no way to get comfortable and then there is the 30 min deal with having the leg down....

      But the good news is- I get the boot in 10 more days!!!! I am praying that there will be more room for the swelling so i will be able to keep the foot down for longer.  I am worried about returning to work as when i am at the desk there is no where to keep my foot up.   Was considering retirement in Dec but like SS315- I also feel guilty about being out w/ everyone that is having to pitch in and cover so to go back for a month and resign.... just not sure.  Guess it is a good quandry to be in.  But like you- I cannot wait to walk again.  

      And I agree Lamborghini Gal is my hero to be back at work after 6 weeks- this surgery has 'kicked my butt' for sure!  

      i tend to get a little lengthy in these posts- it has become my thereapy!  

      Love the positive attitudes

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    • Posted

      Age and all our experiences does make a difference. I'm 59. Broke RT ankle almost 20 years ago. Had RT knee replacement in 2013. Broke LT ankle this past March. Literally broke the only good leg I had to stand on. LOL. I finally got back to work on a restricted basis end of July, almost 4 months post surgery. (I'm learning we have to break down time by events because we make progress after each.) I'm a social work case manager, have luxury to work from home, but make home visits which can be a little challenging. Believe it or not, one client's ramp into her home has a slope hard for me to manage without full flexibility. I really want to resume contact with one very special young woman, but she has steps that were difficult for me before the break.

      Definitely take the time u need to return to work. Hopefully ur work will allow u maybe modified duties or time. By the end of a day with my ankle spent in one position, such as driving long distance, standing for long periods of time, or walking distances, I'm hunting the ice pack and ready to kick back. Good news, from prior experience of RT ankle, it gets better and that passes.

      BTW. After the knee replacement, told my hubby I didn't want to do that again (and at some point the left may need to). After this break, told him I'd rather have another knee replacement! LOL!

      Best wishes in ur recovery!

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    • Posted

      Jan,

      In the end - no matter the work load at the office your healing is the most important thing!  The work will always be there.  Imagine if someone in your office had suffered this injury and you were in their place!  They will do what they need to do.  Make your recovery #1.  I am 57 and I understand your delimma and feeling so torn.

       

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    • Posted

      Hi Jan, "getting lengthy" as you put it, sure is good therapy.  I couldn't agree more!  And it's nice to see that there are others who are in very similar positions and can really understand what we're going through and how we feel.  I hope your swelling starts going down soon.  I had swelling and it was just freaky looking!  I still have some but it's gone down some, but then comes back some too.   

      Beth

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your encouraging words!  My husband says it does look really freaky- he is funny- cannot stand to look at them.  The numbness is going away on the toes and ball of the foot so i know things are improving.  Almost feels like there is another toe between my big toe and second- we all have such weird sensations don't we?  I am actually thankful I cannot see it- I tried w/ a hand mirror but was unable to get a good view.  What else can I do with my free time?  hahahah.  I will be very glad when this is not on my mind 24/ 7 which i am sure we all understand.  thx again,  and I am really praying that your frozen foot start loosening...

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    • Posted

      Many of us are about the same age!  I am very thankful that I can retire if needed but would like to go awhile longer..   sigh... i work in a dialysis clinic and love the patients so am up on my feet a lot.  I cannot imagine even using the scooter that much at work- i am finding it hurts my back. ANd now i have bursitis from lugging this big cast around.   I sound so old!!

      You are very right, Mary.  I had a coworker that was out for over a year- young girl with Crohns disease and i covered part of her job.  She was so sick- and it was actually an honor to be able to step in for her.  she is covering for me now.  And you are correct- if we are not healthy and healed when we return we will be out again.... I cannot believe that 3 of you have fallen or tripped on that step.  That is incredible.... 

       

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    • Posted

      Jan, I had what I would describe as a "band of slight numbness" around my mid part of my top of my foot, going under it.  I was roller skating at a Prince Tribute Skate (I'm 51) and just simply fell.  But I didn't even want to look at my surgical scar and didn't, for a good while!  LOL  I finally looked but I'm just one of those squemish people,  I know what you mean also about it being on your mind 24/7.  I dreamed about it.  Several times!  And thank you....I hope eventually the ankle will move.  And I also wish you the best.  One thing I learned from the beginning and that is........You know how some people say, I hope you feel better soon or I hope your recovery goes fast?  LOL!!!!!!!!!  Well, I learned with my injury, those statements just can't be used.  It is a long road to hoe, that is for sure.  But, I also tell myself, this too shall pass!  ;-)  Thinking of you.  Beth

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    • Posted

      Some of the sensations are so odd.  I have felt like the top of my foot is being pushed down on a few occasions- does not hurt, just feels like pressure.   And then today- felt like the bottom middle of my foot was wrapped w/ some tight wrapping.  I guess this is nerves regenerating and getting better!  
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    • Posted

      I love it!  Roller skating?  What a great story (at least when you are healed and all this is over.  Mine is kind of embarrassing.  I was getting out of the passenger side of our car (at church no less) and did not realize that my left ankle was entagled in the strap of my purse.  By the time I felt the strap- it was too latesad.  It was clearly broken cause my foot was just kind of layer there unattached.  still makes my stomach do flip flops to think about it.  

      There is a funny part to the story- I had a dress on and the ortho doc in the ER was young - when he was setting my foot- I was more worried about my underwear showing than anything.  Fortunately they had given me a perocet and 2 shots of demoral- and shot my foot up with lidocaine.  I did not feel a thing but wow did he work hard- I kept asking the girl helping him to be sure I was 'covered'.redface.  I honestly doubt anyone really cared.  The doc looked like he had run a marathon after he attempted to set the ankle- never knew it was such hard work.   

      And I totally agree about what people say.  I have learned a lot of what NOt to say.  The "fast / speedy recovery" really gets to me.  I have one coworker that texts me every day and asks "what are you doing today?  I hope you feel great!"   I grit my teeth and remind myself that she just cares enough to reach out and I am thankful for that.

      Beth- I have been wiggling my toes and thinking about you today!  That foot is gonna MOVE.

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    • Posted

      One of my coworkers suggested that I sue my employer but I'm out on workers compensation and can't. The worst part for me is that I was only on the job for 2 weeks when this happened. I teach at a vocational work/education program so all of my students are 16-24 years old, non traditional "kids" who didn't find success in the regular public school system. I am on my feet a lot, and my classroom is on the 3rd floor. There're only one elevator and sometimes it goes out. Ugh. But like all of you say, this too shall pass smile

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    • Posted

      My foot feels sort of numb from the heel to my toes. I can curl/wiggle my toes but the rest has that pins and needles tingling feeling. I also can't really bend my foot down much. I wonder if that's the Achilles being unused for so long?

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    • Posted

      Jan, that is terrible!  I know what you mean about your foot just laying there, bascially detached.  My roller skate was completely on it's side and my leg, pointing straight up. I had to pee in the hospital (emergency room) and thank God it was two female nurses.  I had to use a bed pan!  Then, when they wheeled me back to reset my foot, I had to unfortunately pee again and this time, it was two males nurses!  I was so embarrased but they were super nice!  They used prophfil (I can't spell that) on me and they put me out, for my reset. 

      LOL!  I actually wiggled my toes earlier.  I can't curl them and I can't point, but I sure can wiggle them.  And I need your motivation and great attitude!  My foot is gonna MOVE!  I'm going to just think positive.  ;-) 

      Beth

       

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    • Posted

      You got to have things to laugh at to get thru this for sure.  I can for sure understand the 'bathroom' issue.  I was extremely anxious and somewhat in shock- and you know what 'that' can do to your GI system.  Yup- I had to go- and FAST!  They got a bedside commode and my husband and nurse helped me get onto it.  It was painful at one end and a relief at the other!  I was embarrassed to and thank the good Lord that I have a husband of 35 years that has been with me for this entire 'journey'.  It sure was not funny that day or even a few weeks later but I can definately laugh about it now.  I have not told anyone about that and here I put it on a public forum.  ...

      The numbness is almost gone on my foot today- i just keep wiggling the toes and counting down- 9 days until i get a boot!

      Hope this week brings great thigs for you Beth.  I am gonna 'will' that foot to move and move in a mighty way!  Please keep us posted.  

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    • Posted

      Probably is the Achilles tendon not being used.  I have had the cast changed out twice and each time the ortho tech has moved my foot some and mentioned that he was getting it so the achilles tendon would not be as still- that I would be able to walk easier when the time comes.  Both times, the back of my ankle has been very sore- assumed it was from him manipulating the foot.  My numbness is a little better today.... signs of improvement are all good.

      Goodness- i cannot imagine just starting a job for 2 weeks and having this happen- how awful.  I am on my feet a lot but probably not as much as you- I see patients so am out and about about half the time.... and we are fortunate that our clinic is on the first floor and no steps involved.  Still dreading going back......  we are gonna do this though.

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    • Posted

      I am so anxious to get pt started and get this foot/ankle moving. It's so stiff in the mornings. And I was out all day yesterday from 8:30 am-11:30 pm. Hoping for good X-ray results tomorrow am so I can get this show on the road. Happy Labor Day everyone!!

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    • Posted

      Happy thoughts coming your way for good x-ray results.  We will all get there....  :-)
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