Closed fracture of left tibia and fibula

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On the 26th at 9p.m I fell off my steps breaking my tibia 2 places and fibula in 1. Straight all the was through breaks ( sorry I don't have a cool story on how it happened😁wink . They went with a closed fracture procedure which means no hardware of any kind, no screws no rods nothing. The doctor and I agreed that the less surgery the better. Since I've been home 4 days now I've been regretting it. Here's why. I'm in a cast that goes up to the middle of my thigh. My knee is in a permanent 40 degree bend. When I move my leg from any position I swear I can feel the bones rub and wiggle. The best way I can describe it is that it feels like a metradrone in my shin. I often feel popping in my shin followed by a burning sensation which lasts anywhere from a few seconds to a half an hour. I'm wondering what is that popping and what is that wiggling and the burning sensation? Does anyone know what that is? Also if I'm late on my pain meds and I start to shake from the pain my knee hits the cast. So I'm sure my knee is all bruised in there. The cast is so heavy it pulls my leg to the left and has put a lot of pressure on my hip. Should I get a second opinion? Should I change this course and go for the rods and the smaller boot ? I will still have the same amount of down time just maybe an extra week or should I just suck up this discomfort and go for the full 6 weeks. Keep in mind doctor did say this way might not repair the injury he just would rather not do a full surgery vs a smaller less invasive surgery

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7 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi alanna, 

    ? So sorry you have gone through this. It sounds so bad! I don't have a lot of experience of what you are going through. I fell and tore my ligaments and tendons  and it took them a yr to figure out the pain I was having. So surgery for me was 7 weeks ago. 

    ?  I would say if you are that uncomfortable and pained to call your doc.  You will get a lot of advice here. Everyone who has been through anything are at different stages which is great to learn where and what they have been through. 

    Good Luck!



  • Posted

    So sorry for your injury. I also fell down steps and broke my tibia, fibula, and talus in August. I now have 16 screws and a plate in my ankle. The cast was the worse part of my recovery. I could have sworn the cast was rubbing my skin raw, but when then took it off my skin was fine. Its a long trying recovery. I would contact my doctor and ask if what you are experiencing is what can be expecting. I wasn't even given the option of no hardware, I don't know if this was because my ankle was dislocated. Good luck, it takes a lot of time and is a slow recovery, but 5 months later I am well on my way. 

    • Posted

      Well I'm glad to hear your own the road to recovery. I believe the option was giving to me by my high level of anxiety. I suffer from major panic attacks and before I had even met the doctor I had expressed to many nurses I was against surgery and since it took almost 24 hours from the time I was taken to surgery a lot of nurses had heard my complaint lol. But after reading all that I read online and the fact that this might not even work and could spend 6 weeks like this and end up getting the hardware anyway is something I wish he informed me of. So I fell into a catch 22. I will be going to my primary care doctor on Monday and get his opinion since he's known me for over 20 years and he will either ease my mind or tell me to get a second opinion. I'm just nervous this will be all for not and end up damaging my hip. But can anyone explain what the popping sound and the burning sensation when I move my leg. It's not a once in awhile thing it happens every time I move it. Just sometimes the burning lasts longer than others

    • Posted


      I  fell while stepping off of my deck on July 4, 2017 suffering an open fracture and breaking my fibula, tibia and talus. I had surgery 21 days after the fall as I had to wait for an orthopedic trauma surgeon and the swelling was too bad at first to have a good surgical outcome.

      I could feel the strange sensation you mentioned. It was almost as if I could feel my bones move in the soft cast and the zaps I felt were hard to describe at the time but I found out later they were damaged nerves. 

      Fast forward to two weeks post surgery with a 10-12 inch rod with 16 screws on one side and two long screws repairing the talus on the other side as well as another plate on top of my foot.  I began to feel severe burning and nerve pain and was due for a check back the following week. The burning was so severe I asked my husband to cut the cast off. It was horrible and I couldn’t get away from the pain. My husband of course didn’t remove the cast but when I saw the surgeon I was hospitalized for a week due to an infection which resulted in two more procedures and 42 days of antibiotic infusions.  

      The burning sensation was large fracture blisters and I have very thin skin in that area now. If I had this to do over I would likely never allow this metal to be placed in my leg, ankle and foot. I may have felt differently if not for the infection.  The recovery has been very difficult and I have another surgery due in spring. 

      I can walk now with a limp and I returned to work after 3 months but if I had the option- no surgery and no hardware. 

      I wish I knew then what I know now. This forum has been a godsend for sure. 

      Positive thoughts to you and hope for a a good recovery! 


  • Posted

    Any time there is surgery there are risks.  I broke my tibia and fibula on February 28th so am now over 9 months into recovery.  I had surgery right away and a plate and screws which is pretty standard procedure.  I was one of the unfortunate ones that experienced nerve damage, very severe at times.  As a result I couldn't wear a cast (and they tried many different types) or the boot as nothing could touch my affected area as the pain was awful.  I just tried to hold my foot still for about 8 weeks while the bone healed. The mechanical healing of the ankle has been fine.  Just recommend that you do a lot of PT and follow all the instructions.  The nerve damage has been problematic as I sought out other opinions to no avail.  They said it could take a year or more and I am finally seeing the nerve damage go down.  I can pretty much walk normally and have started to jog.  

    ?I would not have felt comfortable with any of this unless I got a second opinion, and in my case a third opinion.  My surgeon even suggested it as he was confident in what he was doing so did not feel at all threatened by a second opinion.  I chose the second doctor.

    ?If you have any doubts about whether you are doing the right thing, ease your mind and go see another doctor for a second opinion.  I suspect for your injury most patients do have surgery so you should find out exactly what the pros and cons are of your course of action.

    ?By the way I am 66 so I don't heal as fast as some of you youngsters.

    Good luck!!!


    • Posted

      I'm 43 so I'm no spring chicken myself, but thanks for the advice. I have made an appointment with my pcp for Monday to discus this with him. He's like a father figure to me. Im so disappointed that I didn't go to the e.r. that his practice works out of. I'll keep everyone posted. Thanks for all the advice. Just seems I've got so much going on in my personal life as well and my personal life has come to a screeching halt and all my focus has become all about my leg. Wow what a life changer this one accident put on me.

  • Posted

    I broke my ankle( tibia and fibula) 10 months ago from biking while vacationing in the Philippines. OS recommended surgery but I refused. I came back to US with a cast up to my thigh. Went straight to the ER from the airport but no Ortho available so I was seen 3 days later and recommended surgery but he also gave me an option for conservative treatment that is cast and therapy but he said it's longer to recover. I choose the cast and I had it for more than 2 months then boot for 6 weeks. I went for PT 3x a week. At first I kind of regret that I didn't have surgery because it was taking so long for me to walk without the crutches.  But now I'm glad that I didn't have surgery. I walk fine but still swell little bit and also stiff.  I hope you'll make the right decision. Good luck! I was feeling depressed for awhile but just stay positive. As they say there is light at the end of the tunnel. Take care!!!


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