Broken ankle still not healed after 12 weeks?

Posted , 11 users are following.

Hello, a little over 12 weeks ago I broke my ankle, it was a closed fracture of my left lateral malleolus. The doctor said it did not require surgery. I was non-weight bearing for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks the bone still has not fully healed, but they said I should begin trying to walk on it because they're worried about the bones becoming too weak. Also, my foot is still pretty swollen. And when I try to put weight on it with the crutches, I feel pain in my foot but not really where the break was, just at the top of my foot near the toes, I'm guessing this is because my foot is still swollen. My foot's skin is also shedding.

So I have 2 questions...

1) Is it normal to have a patient try to walk even though the fracture has not fully healed? Won't this affect the healing process?

2) Is there any hope this will ever fully heal? Even browsing these forums I never came across a thread with a person whose ankle fracture hadn't fully healed after 12 weeks. 

I'm 26 years old by the way and this is the first time I fractured my ankle.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

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14 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi, I’m 5 weeks into the same injury, although I’m no expert I must have read every single internet page going and sure I read that as the bone only bears 17% of body weight, walking encourages bone growth through stimulation of the bone etc. I’m back for my check up tomorrow and really hoping they put me in a boot as I’m really struggling with this non weight bearing now, I feel so weak. Let me know how you get on. Xx
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    • Posted

      Oh I see, in that case I won't be afraid to put some weight on it. Yeah I feel your pain, hopefully they put you in a boot and you heal up quickly! Thanks for the reply. smile

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  • Posted

    Hi Cloudd,

    My sympathies to you on your fracture challenges. I know it can be incredibly frustrating.

    It is correct to say that fractured bones need gravity (weight) to foster complete healing-- if they are ready to bear the weight without damage.

    Your doctor can tell by your x-rays whether enough bone mending has occurred to enable safe weight bearing.

    Now then, non-union fractures (broken bones that won't mend or join together) can and do happen. Sometimes they just take a long time to heal, and sometimes they never do (that's rare, I think).

    There could be a lot of reasons for non-union fractures. In your case, your doctor apparently determined that your fracture was a type and severity that didn't warrant surgery (you should thank your lucky stars for that!) but your injured bones should have been protected just the same.

    One of unanswered questions in your narrative is: did wear you in a CAM boot while non-weight-bearing, and also as you became weight-bearing? A CAM boot, or air cast, keeps fracture immobilized to allow bone pieces to stay together so they can start knitting process. If the fractured bone (unless it is a simple hairline crack perhaps) is not immobilized there is the possibility that movements, knocks, jostling, etc. could rupture any mending that might get started.

    At 26 you are young so your body's healing capabilities should be near peak, and that makes your problem even more perplexing.

    I hope you get a better picture of your situation and prognosis from your physician. If it were me, I would give doc no peace until I got satisfactory answers. Otherwise I would fire the doctor (find another one, that is).

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    • Posted

      Thank you for the info kpower!

      So I was in a splint for the first 4 weeks, then once the swelling went down I was in a cast for 4 weeks, then they put me in a CAM boot but told me to still not put any weight on it. Now, I'm still with the CAM boot and they instructed me to slowly start putting weight on it, and maybe in 2 weeks I can start walking without the boot. It's just difficult to walk because the foot is still swollen.

      My next appointment is in a little over 3 weeks so we'll see what happens I guess. Hoping for the best.

       

       

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    • Posted

      I’m 25 weeks post op. I have a plate and 6 screws in my ankle. A drunk driver hit me head on in April. Swelling and redness is normal and will eventually go away. Ice it for 20 minutes at a time a few times a day and elevate it. DO NOT push yourself when bearing weight. Start out just allowing your foot to rest on the floor but don’t put your weight down. Also if you are allowed to take the boot off do some flexing motions with your foot while in the hot bath. For skin peeling warm up some olive oil or coconut oil and rub it in. It will help nourish the new skin and shed the old. Do not use anything with petroleum jelly in it because it repels moisture. Oh and I used a walker instead of crutches. It gave me more stability and at the time I also had a broken left hand so crutches weren’t going to work. Just listen to your body and take your time with it all. Your body is working very hard at repairing itself. Good luck! 🙏🏼

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  • Posted

      I broke the small bone at the tip of fibula 2 years ago.  I worked full time with a tie up splint on since dr said it was Ok.  The bone never did heal but it got better.  Until about 2 months ago.  I got up and boom, felt like I had rebroken it.  So off to dr and this time the recommended a MRI.  The MRI showed the bone still had never healed and now my ligaments were thickened and weak and I had edema.  So a week and half ago I had surgery.  I am 63 and this no weight bearing is awful.  I got a iwalk hands free crutch and a leg scooter since m balance is so terrible and have been getting along pretty good.  Never did need any prescription pain med, but that may change when I go to weight bearing.  I am having the burning and had some rather nasty heal pain for a few days.  I will be glad when it is over.  So yes, they do sometimes become a non-union and they do sometimes then go on to be a chronic condition. Just my luck.  good luck to you.
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  • Posted

    Did this ever heal? I'm in the same situation, but not as far out as you. Closed fracture of my left lateral malleolus. I actually never had to be non weight bearing aside from the resting I did the first couple of days! I got an aircast and was restricted to 4 hours of walking a day, I wore it for 5 1/2 weeks. When I went in for my x ray, it showed that the fracture GOT BIGGER! They also told me I didn't have to wear the aircast anymore because my pain is quite low and always has been. I am just baffled. They told me that my break is at a part where it doesn't actually affect that much so it's not a big deal and that it will just take time. I'm wearing a stabilizer (just one from the pharmacy) so I don't re-roll it but I am so paranoid that it will never heal! Would love to hear how things turned out for you!

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    • Posted

      2 years ago i fractured my ankle and never healed. then my leg bones became weak and the ankle remained unstable. i refractured it 2 months ago and still not healed.

      the malleolis are ok to wb but i fractured also the tarsus in the foot and can't put any weight on it.

      my 1st break didn't heal because the cast came off too soon, i was in bad pains.

      now i'm in the full leg plaster and my foot feels really wonderful but my bones will be even weaker, so i will be in a walking cast for many weeks.

      wb helps to stimulate bones but too much movement can delay or stop healing, i think that you should use pain as a guide.

      try to stay off the foot for one day or immobilize it to see if you notice some differences.

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    • Posted

      Hi Alicia, sorry about the late response.

      Thankfully, my ankle did (finally) heal. I'm able to walk, exercise, etc... just fine with no pain. (aside from a few "popping" sounds every now and then)

      As time went on practicing walking with the boot (putting weight on it), things started turning around. I was super paranoid too after 12 weeks it still hadn't healed.

      I hope your ankle healed fine!

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    • Posted

      Hi,

      I am 8 weeks into a Weber A ankle fracture and I have that 'popping' too. I just had a second x-ray and have realised my ankle is not fully healed. I had the moonboot for 5-6 weeks and was told to stop wearing it by physiotherapist.

      The doctor phoned me and told me that it wasn't healing in the correct place and I'm being referred to orthopaedic Drs. I'm hoping I don't need surgery, as I can walk on it but not very well and not far distance at all.

      Were you told that yours wasn't healing properly since it took 12 weeks? I am so worried. It is taking so long for Drs to help me too so I don't know what to do while I'm waiting for help. Don't want to make it worse. I thought it would be at least healed by now as I have rested it a lot and hardly walk on it. I'm 21.

      Thanks

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  • Posted

    hello

    i wonder how you got on with your ankle? i know this post is from some time ago but i would hope all okay now,

    i am nearly 6 weeks post fracture of my ankle and leg but no operation was done , the bones have always stayed alligned but i am having the cast off next week, i will be in a boot for another 6 weeks and the doctor said he is not worried about the fracture in my leg but is worried about the ankle fracture, he has told me to start gentle weight bearing in the boot and see how the pain is! he said no weight bearing without a boot but gentle exercises, i dont see the doctor for 5 weeks and he said just see how much it hurts but it may not heal and i will be under his care for 6 months! i am worried and a bit confused , will my ankle be okay , and what happens if it doesnt heal, thanks

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    • Posted

      Hello,

      My ankle for the most part is fine now. I have no pain when I walk which is nice. The only thing is every now and then my ankle will make that "popping" sound, you know like when you crack your fingers.

      I also make an effort to keep my ankle strong by exercising and practicing my balance daily, which helps.

      I think you should be fine because I was non-weight bearing for 12 whole weeks. And they're putting you in a boot after 6 weeks. Once you start putting some weight on it, the ankle will get stronger. So make sure to slowly practice and put weight on it every day.

      Good luck and I hope your ankle and leg heals well!

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  • Posted

    I have a question. I broke my ankle 6 weeks ago. I am scheduled to have my cast off in a week to have an xray and get the cast off. I was just outside on my leg scooter and almost fell. I caught myself with my broken, non weight bearing, casted leg. It tingled like it was asleep, but it did not hurt. Do you think that I have made it worse?

    Thanks!

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    • Posted

      hey cindy87136.....I broke my right ankle on july 14th...had surgery july 24th....I broke it on both sides...I had a plate and screws on the right side and screws on the inside...before I made it to surgery...my grandson accidentally hit my foot hard...causing it enough pain that I went to the ER To get another xray...he didn't hurt it....aand I also fell in my bathroom with my cast on a few weeks after that....So I guess what I'm trying to say is that u are gonna be fine...I'm 5 weeks post OP of surgery and my dr said the tingling is just a normal process....

      Report Reply

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