Did anyone else have an External Fixator??

Posted , 3 users are following.

Hi everyone,

This is the best forum for ankle issues! So, I had a trimalleolar fracture in early April. I have been reading about others here with the same or similar injuries and I notice that either they have had their surgery right away, or have waited a week or two for the swelling to go down and THEN had their surgery. I see no mention of anyone experiencing the External Fixator.

I wish I had had a choice. In the hospital no clear explanation was given. I was told I had a traumatic injury that would need two surgeries to repair, the first being that evening. Silly me imagined they would go in, do something to the ankle, close it up and cast me, and then I would need a further surgery in the future. Oh no, not at all. I awoke alone in my room (I was admitted) in the wee hours of the morning ( even tho I broke my ankle at noon an operating room was not available until midnight) to find my leg was attached to the most horrible contraption I had ever seen. Or felt. Somehow two metal rods were drilled into my shin bone, and there was this big metal contraption attached, and another metal bar was straight through my heel. It was crazy.

I called for the nurse and this is when I found out the crazy thing was to get the swelling down so I could have surgery sooner, and that no pain med ever was going to touch the pain of having the thing on me. It was like a shark was attached by its teeth and I could not get it off. Three full days of that thing, where my blood and bone marrow leaked out of the areas where the bars went into my bones and pooled on the pillows, and of the worst pain of my life. 

Three days later, on my birthday, it was removed and I had the ORIF surgery. 10 screws and two plates.

Here is my deal. My ankle, six weeks out from ORIF, is hardly my problem. My heel and my shin bone are the most painful things, as well as the top of my foot. I believe that recovering from the External Fixator is much worse than recovery from the surgery itself! And I'm very upset, after reading so much, that I was not given a choice about having that horrid, medieval torture device placed on me.

Has anyone else experienced this??

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  • Posted


    I too had an External fixator on lucky u that it was only on for 3 days i had mine on for 6 weeks 😯 i too had two bars in my shin and one through my heel.. but i had no problem with mine like u seem to have had so i do feel for u i hope you get better soon


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    • Posted


      Six weeks?! Oh my. Maybe if mine had been left on longer the pain would have begun to fade, but as it was those three days were horrid. But why six weeks?? And did you have the ORIF surgery afterwards?

      Also, do you feel that any of your recovery pain is more related to the Fixator than the actual surgery? Thank you so much for taking the time to respond!


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  • Posted


    Yes, the external  Fixator I had it for 2 weeks, very shocking to look at, but crucial in the initial stages prior to having the internal surgery.  I also had 2 plates fitted with 12 screws. I’ve had lots of Physio, lots of ankle classes, I’ve been on Exogen therapy for 110 days and counting, I dont believe it’s working.

    you’ve got a long way to go so keep your chin up.

    The external  Fixator is nothing compared to the up hill climb you’ll face, my ankle is still broken, still got the pain and the swelling,  elevation is my closest friend,I try to avoid the pain killers as much as poss, the side effects don’t agree with me.

    They say it’s a non union fracture.

     Also,in the last 3 weeks I’ve been experiencing a lot of pain from the plate from ankle up to my shinbone, I’ve yet to report this to my Orthopaedic. 

    My accident occurred last Feb17. 

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    • Posted


      Do you mean February 2017?!?  That is nuts! And did they know right from the first x rays done after your surgery that it was non Union, or not healing properly?? And if the external Fixator is so important, shouldn't it have worked n you??

      I am six weeks out from the second surgery. It does feel really endless. But I really feel awful that you are having such a hard time of it for so long. We all take the darn things (ankles) for granted until something like this happens. Life is just passing by. I waited for my son's graduation from Harvard for 6 years. And here I am in NY instead of Boston rooting him on. Very depressing. I am 48 going on 100 at the moment!

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    • Posted

      Yeah 9th of Feb 17, and on my daughters birthday. I’m 49 next, I’ve been working really hard as instructed by my orthopaedic and Physio, they said from the off after first X-ray that it would take 18-24 months to get almost full recovery, that was before my CT scan in Oct 17 which revealed Non Union, I started on Exogen in Jan 18 but I don’t believe it’s working, I’m still using a stick, very bad limp, very slow and with pain, they’ve classed me disabled for now but I’m determined to get back to norm, I’m expected to have bone graft surgery but that’s not been officially confirmed, I have my next CT on the 1st June, this will determine my next path way but rumours suggest bone graft. Thankfully I didnt live that far from what was my daughters university so  I did manage to make my daughters graduation last sept. I do hope all works out for you. Bless ya! 
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  • Posted


    I dont know why it was on for so long luv but appart from it looking awful and it was hard to wear pants i felt no pain ever😇 also when the Fixator came out i had no other surgery so no plates/screws for me😇 i believe i am extreamly lucky even though i have some pain and limp but i broke my Talus and it was also an open fracture so popped through my skin n was sat in my sock😯 it was a terrible experiance like everyone on here u just want to get back to normal...I hope everything gets better from now on luv x😇

    Maria x

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