Is this just stiffness or is my plate preventing movement?

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Hi there. So a few weeks ago (July 3rd) I had my ORIF ankle surgery on my right ankle (I broke my tibia and medial malleolus pretty bad). I was in a cast until July 17th, when they moved me into an air-boot (I think that's what it's called, lol!). They said everything on the x-ray's looked great and that I'm healing up well. Anyways, the doctors said I can take off the boot whenever I want, and especially need to do light ROM exercises each day without the boot on. This includes moving the ankle back and forth, forward and backward. Also, during surgery, I had 2 screws put in the inner part of my ankle (closest to my other leg) and a plate with 4-6 screws (I can't remember) on the outside part.

Well, I can move my ankle/foot forward with what seems to be only the issue of muscle memory loss, but when I try to move my ankle backward (towards me) it's like something on the outside of my ankle is preventing it from moving. It's super stiff on the outside. It doesn't hurt, per se, but it literally won't move so that my foot is straight up. Is this normal? I only got my cast removed 4 days ago, and I've heard from others that their ankles were really stiff for the first week or so of being in a boot, but it's really odd because my inner ankle is only stiff-feeling from the tape that's covering the incisions, but the outer ankle is stiff and feels like something is "stuck" on the outside...

Also, has anyone else's foot/ankle/leg shook really badly whenever you take off your boot or are trying exercises? Mine does! 

So is my plate preventing me from moving my ankle up all the way or doing ROM exercises? Or will it get better in a few days as this is just stiffness from being in the cast for 2 weeks?

Thanks, and I hope for a speedy recovery for everyone else on here going through a broken bone(s)! (:

 

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  • Posted

    EDIT: Oops, just realized I said I broke my tibia and medial malleolus... but they're the same bone! I meant to say I broke my FIBULA and medial malleolus. I keep getting them confused, lol.

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  • Posted

    I was in a really similar situation when I started my ROM three weeks ago -- could barely move my ankle at all, couldn't seem to get it past a 90* angle when I pulled it up toward me and it shook ridiculously any time I did anything--and it felt incredibly tight. It's much "looser" now--especially when I first wake up in the morning. I'm able to move it a lot more than I was three weeks ago. Give it time, the stiffness does go down, and even those small movements you're doing are helping muscle memory return. By the end of the night (and especially if I'm icing) it'll be tight again but never as bad as it was those first few days when I had a very similar sensation to what you're describing. Keep at it! You can do this!

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  • Posted

    I had ORIF Nov 17 for ankle dislocation and tib/fib fxs. My hardware sounds identical to yours. My physical therapists cited scar tissue as the cause for limited ROM. I purchased a wooden round board and stationary pedals to use at home on days I didn't go to PT. I am 7 months post op and still have stiffness when I first get out of bed in the morning. I would imagine this is common and may last for quite some time due to scar tissue. Like you, I had no issues with bone healing and my xrays all showed excellent progression. I guess the ankle takes longer because the entire weight of the body rests on it. This experience has certainly taught me to be patient.

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  • Posted

    Your situation sounds similar to mine as well. Im currently almost 2 months out from surgery, and about 3 weeks of being in a air-boot. Broke my ankle and had to get a plate and 3 screws shoved in. Let me tell you, when i first got my cast off ; my foot would shake whenever i tried moving it up or any big movement. I think it was mainly because being stuck in that cast and no movement though. You’re nerves and muscle are just waking up again. But after the first week of PT i slowly saw progress with how far i could move my foot. I can assure this, it will get better trust me. Even im still in PT right now and my foot is still stiff pulling towards me but i wont let that get to me. I wish you the best luck and just keep doing your exercises, and try to get that foot moving things will turn better! 
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