I fractured my ankle in four places 9 months ago. How long before it's fully healed?

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I slipped and fell on the ice 9 months ago in February 2018 which resulted in a trimalleolar fracture (four breaks) in my left ankle. I have a plate with 6 screws attached to my fibula and 2 screws in my tibia. I have been doing physiotherapy but have reached a plateau. I cannot go up and down stairs easily. I cannot squat. After driving in a car, my leg is stiff. X-rays show that the bones are healed. Any suggestions on what I could do to improve bending/mobility? Thanks!

PS - I'm a 58 year old female who likes to jog, bicycle, kayak, and play the ukulele (the only one of the four activities not restricted by my injury, ha-ha).

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  • Posted

    Hello Tracy, my injury (in March 2018) and what followed is very much like yours except that by mid July I was able to walk on easy terrain 7 miles. I can walk more now but have not yet tried the mountains. My foot, esp its top, often feels stiff, I get unpleasant pins and needles sensations , nerve pains and swelling in the evening. Driving is not a problem. Are you doing a lot of exercises by yourself? A balance cushion is a good idea and bending and stretching when, for example, you are watching TV. I think that stretching calves also helps. Were any of the screws removed at some points?.I understand that removal of big screws can help restore mobility of the ankle. I had 2 big screws removed in late June. Good luck.

    • Posted

      Hi, Anna.

      Thanks for your reply...and congrats on 7+ miles!

      Yes, I have been doing exercises since March...and I have a Bosu ball.

      My first physiotherapist had surgery. I met with a new physiotherapist this week.

      I also started wearing compression socks. This has helped with swelling.

      No, I haven't had the plate/screws removed. My surgeon, family doctor, and physiotherapist do not recommend it.

      Did you notice an improvement when your screws were removed? In what bone were the screws placed?

  • Posted

    My dtr had tri fracture with dislocation and sounds like same hardware as you. She was coming down from a jump in volleyball and landed on someones foot back in 1/18. She started jogging and trying to play with her lacrosse back in July but had a pretty serous limp until probably 9/18. She describes it still as sore all the time and she still doesn't get it much past 90 degrees. I think at this point she's just compensating for it in other ways and also just tolerating constant pain. I noticed that she did seem to get more flexible, more jumping, and faster about mid-October, so 9 months after. She played volleyball again this past season but not to level she did before. We are going to put her back in physical therapy now that season done and also with a trainer to work on more mobility and more power. She's pretty discouraged, though. I would think biking would be good for you, kind of both passive motion and active at the same time. Also rowing machine? We haven't asked about screw removal and increasing mobility...her doctor told her that he would not be inclined to take them out.

  • Posted

    I had a trimalleolar that was repaired with 2 plates and 12 pins on April 17th. The majority of the bottom of my foot is still numb, but gets shooting pins and needles pain and my big toe is pretty much frozen in place. It moves down some, but is unable to move up. I am unable to go down stairs, squat, walk without shoes, walk without a big limp, and can't really walk more than about 50-75 yards at a time. and this really sucks. Any time I step wrong on it, like uneven pavement, the pain shoots up the outside right where my plates/pins are. Sometimes I feel like the plates kinda catch on my ankle bone...has anyone experienced that? I would think that at 7 months I would be much more healed than I am now. I am in PT, it used to be 3x a week, then 2...now only down to one because the PT says that I have had no improvement in 2 months so he is just trying to keep range of motion going. I see my surgeon on the 8th...Anything I can ask of him to do for me..tests? removal of plate/pins? anything??? My quality of life seriously sucks right now and I am getting really depressed


    • Posted

      Hi, Monique.

      I can relate to some of your limitations and discouragement.

      You could always see another physiotherapist for a second opinion...and new exercises.

      I am trying compression socks...and I notice an improvement. I am not limping as much. Yay!

      My surgeon, family doctor, and physiotherapist do not recommend removing the hardware; however, I have a friend who had screws removed because she had discomfort when skating...and it helped. I haven't tried skating yet, but that is also something I like to do.

      I'm still researching hardware removal.

      My surgeon is 'willing' to remove the hardware, but he doesn't guarantee it will improve the situation.

      I hope you will persevere, Monique. My son and d-in-law sent me a card that says, " Recovery is a process. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes everything you've got..." Yes, it certainly does. I pray things will get better for you! Hugs!

    • Posted

      Hi Tracy,

      thanks so much for your reply and words of encouragement i did see the surgeon today and am scheduled to have a nerve test, Ct scan and appt with a pain management doctor in the next few weeks. My surgeon said that my break was severe and he is not too surprised that have delayed healing and complications. once the results are back, i have two surgical options first is to go in and break up the contracted muscle and fascia to get my toe moving and hopefully improve my gait and relieve some pain. the second is to remove the hardware to see if i get some additional pain relief . BUT.... neither of this come with any guarantee that they will help. i was told that i will never be where i was previously

      praying for you as well...thank you

  • Posted

    Tracy your story sounds a lot like mine! I fell on ice the end of January 2018 which caused three breaks in my ankle, a broken Fibula just below my knee, and ruptured ligaments in my ankle. I had surgery the following day to pin and plate my ankle back together, however one of my breaks(the smallest of the 3) couldn't be surgically repaired. After 2 months I was allowed to bear weight and went through 2 1/2 months of physical therapy. I too had major issues with squatting, swelling, and stiffness.

    My initial surgeon ended up referring me to a foot and ankle specialist who informed me that there is so much damage to my ankle joint that I actually need to either have a joint replacement or have my ankle fused however at my age I don't qualify for either surgery.

    I just underwent my second surgery this year to basically reconstruct my ankle which will hopefully buy me enough good years to get to the age where I qualify for the joint replacement surgery. Still in a cast at this point, but my surgeon said it will be a solid 6-9 months before I will know what the permanent outcome of this surgery is. He also informed me that I am done with impact sports, which means no more running for me.

    • Posted

      Hi, Amanda.

      Wow! Sounds like you've had quite a serious injury....and a couple of surgeries. Ankle reconstruction - wow. Sorry to hear you won't be running any more. I used to run, too. It helped clear my mind...and keep some pounds off. Now it's a challenge to find cardio exercises.

      I've never heard of joint replacement surgery.

      I hope you'll soon be back on BOTH feet...and I pray for complete healing for you.


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