Numbness of toes after ankle fracture surgery

Posted , 67 users are following.

Hi everybody, great forum! I am 51, broke my left ankle on a hiking trip on Friday, had a surgery on Sunday night.

Generally things are getting better : much less pain, can wiggle my toes, but there is a persistent numbness on top side of big toe and  second toe.

Looks like it might be some post-op nerve damage, because it is not getting worse and does not affect the mobility of toes. Decided not to go to emerg, that would mean sitting there for 6 hours before any doc will come to  see me. But if it would become worse, then I would go.

Also : feeling very unsafe with crutches, in particular when home alone. Using a portable wheelchair instead for the trips to the bathroom, getting food from the kitchen, etc.

Any thouhgts or advises on all this?

2 likes, 93 replies

93 Replies

  • Posted


    I'm 8 months post op and still have numbness on my foot and ankle.

    Gee I feel for you helping yourself so early on. I've heard the scooter is very good for getting around. Hope you have family and friends to help you out 🙂

    • Posted


      I do have people to help me, but the loss of independence made me feel terrible, and it was so sudden! I think many people are struggling with the same issue after a limb fracture...It is more of a psychological problem to ask for help even with small things... Now after my pain is under the control and I am okay with using a wheelchair for couple of weeks I can start planning my activities at home waiting for that two weeks follow up appointment with the doctor. Good idea do use a scooter.

      Thank you for the reply, I wonder how long it was before you started to walk post-op? I have fractures on both sides of my ankle, don't even know what bones are involved exactly.

    • Posted

      Hi Olga. I was post op 5 months before I walked unaided.

      I broke tibia, fibula and inner ankle bone with dislocation but it was very complacated as my bones are bad quality and my ankle smashed. I have 2 plates with screws in tibia and fibula and 2 long screws in the inner ankle break and the surgeon told me I am the worse end of the spectrum of ankle breaks. I have pain and can't walk far. The inner ankle bone hasn't healed yet and it's no longer the normal shape. You will get there Olga and I do wish you the very best 🙂

    • Posted

      Hey I broke my ankle 3 days ago slipping on wet floor, the X-Ray wasn't very good as there was so much swelling so need to go back to find out exactly what I've broke and if I will need surgery! 

      Was extremelly painful as soon as I had done it but after 2 hours or so the pain reduced, with the help of gas and air. 

      However now my leg feels like it's swelling inside the cast and three of my toes are numb don't know if anyone could help me with whats going on.

  • Posted


    your early days, I think this is very normal. If crutches don't work you use whatever works for you, there are no rules. Some use chair, knee scooter, walker or Combo for all three - just take good care and don't rush, it's not worth an added injury.  I'm not having much luck with crutches so use walker and chair.  Works for me. Happy healing 👣

    • Posted

      Thank you! The main thing with crutches that I was afraid to have another fall and a subsequent injury...the wheelchair is working great so far 
    • Posted

      I only used a wheel chair for the first 2-3 weeks (great place to start), then healed a little and got used to the knee scooter and fell in love with it. I finally got used to the crutches, but only after being forced to use them 7 weeks later, due to having to do WB walking. I remember early on that any bumps I would go over, in the car, scooter or wheelchair would hurt a lot...that gets much better with time. Seems like forever ago, even though it's only been 2-1/2 months.
    • Posted

      Thank you, that gives me an idea what to expect...
  • Edited

    Hi Olga! Welcome to the group. Where are you from? I'm from California in the US. Everything you said sounds very normal to me. Are you in a cast? Keep wiggling your toes to get the blood flowing to them, and also to heal the area, and keep them moving so they don't freeze up too much more. Massage them as much as you can. I'm 10 weeks out (had 7 in a cast) and the numbness is still there and on the top of my foot, but getting better daily with massage with Christopher's Tissue and Bone ointment (has comfrey in it). Do warm water soaks with Epsom salt (once out of the cast and after your incision, if you have one, is thoroughly healed), and lots of elevation and ice. Pile a bunch of pillows up so you can keep your leg elevated while you sleep. Learn to sleep on your back. You will get used to sleeping this way; but it can take a little while. As you have probably heard in real estate it's all about location, location, location...well now it is all about elevation, elevation, elevation. Don't worry..if you forget, your foot will remind you, I promise. Remember...this is temporary and you will get better, but you have to be patient and not mind at home when people help's very hard for active and independent people! Eat as healthy as possible. Look up foods that promote bone growth in your body. Keep your upper body moving with exercises. I am convinced it is making all the difference in helping to make me heal faster, to get the blood and oxygen pumping through my body. When you get to the third week and you feel like you are going a bit stir crazy, don't to us. You'll love this site for info and support. I agree with Ms. Camboot- it's all about the knee scooter (get one as soon as possible). I also got a basket and cup holder and it has made all the difference for me. Regarding the crutches, see if you can get gel pad covers, because they can really hurt the palms of your hands at first. There are some videos on you tube to help you figure out how to use the crutches. Later when you can bear weight on the leg, you will need to pull them back out and use them. Hopefully it was not your right foot, so you can drive. If you can, be sure to get a temporary disability plaque so you can park in handicapped parking, if you are in the states. Hang in there!
    • Posted

      Thanks a lot, I feel so much supported by your advise! 

      I am in Canada, Vancouver area. The whole event was quite dramatic : I slipped and fell going down a mountain trail and was rescued by a helicopter...Mentioning this because I feel like only now coming back to my senses. 

    • Posted

      Hi Olga

      im from Vancouver, we moved recently in past few years to West Kootenay. At least your injury was eventful, I slipped in shower....haha   Take good care 👣

    • Posted

      Hi Jannie

      Well, never mind the event, the result is still the same!

      Nice to hear from you, take care,


    • Posted

      That's so true, but slipping in the shower doesn't sound half as good as hell skiing......take good care 👣
    • Posted

      Wow! That's an impressive story! An only a broken ankle? Not bad!
    • Posted

      Snap Olga!

      That's how I too was injured and I too was airlifted by helicopter to the trauma unit in Sheffield. U.K. I was on holiday over there, although I'm a Pom. I live in Australia 🙂

    • Posted

      I went on a day trip with a group,  it was not too far from vancouver but quite a steep trail. When the injury happened it was still 1,5 hours to the trailhead, ambulance couldn't do it so mountain rescue came with a helicopter. I actually was outside in a sling, short ride down but very spectacular. The guys who were helping me were awesome, great job!

      UK is great, never been there but it is on my wish list.

    • Posted

      Hi Olga.

      You story is like mine. Well, we have more in common lol. I was so thankful for the mountain rescue team, very dedicated team.

    • Posted

      Hi Olga,

      I'm in Halifax in Nova Scotia!

      The numbness is normal. I broke 3 bones in my left ankle and dislocated it and had surgery the next morning. The entire left side of my foot on the side is numb all the way to my ankle it tingles a lot so I know that it will eventually get better.

      Keep elevating and ice. It will help tremendously! Good luck hun!

    • Posted

      reading your comment tonight has calmed my fears about top of foot numbness.I’m only going on my 3rd day post op but the top of my foot and little toe is numb. I certainly hope this improves over time.

    • Posted

      Hello Mellisa4

      I just found this forum and hope to get some answer/ help here. I had triameollar fracture on my ankle. Had surgery 3 weeks ago with 1 blade and 8 screw. I am constantly feeling the nerve pain on top of my foot. The feeling of burning, pinching and numbness. Dr said it is because the nerves are being cut during surgery and that it will take a while to come back.

      Can someone tell me of your timeline and does it really get better?

    • Posted

      hello kelly5454

      i just found this forum last night 8-30-21. i was hiking last wednesday morning (8-25), rolled my ankle on a rock, fell down a steep embankment, and suffered a closed bimalleolar fracture for which i had emergency surgery on friday afternoon (8-27).

      i would love to connect with you and/or Olga and/or anyone else here because i am really struggling emotionally with recovery. please, i'm literally begging. i'm a very active person (i hike every day) and don't know how to do this.

      i have an amazing husband who is doing everything for me and is there for me in every way and friends who are there for me and also my dad who is wonderful but please, i need someone like y'all to go through this with.

      will someone please help me... just go through this with me... that's all i'm asking.

    • Edited

      Hi Mountain Mermaid,

      I'm a week behind you and in the same exact situation. We were on a 6 week camping trip to Canada and on 8/31, I slipped on a path in the mountains above Crested Butte, Colorado, rolled my ankle, and ended up with a closed bimalleolar fracture. I had emergency surgery in Gunnison the next day including a long plate and multiple screws. We decided not to cut our trip short so now we are in Calgary for 10 days visiting family before we move on to the west coast. Needless to say, we are having to stay in inns and hotels because it's too painful and difficult for me to camp in my current situation plus the bumpy mountain roads are too jarring. We retired last year and I just turned 60 so we have lots of time and until now were both very healthy and active. We travel in our Jeep to remote areas for weeks at a time. We had all kinds of trips planned after this one including several trips abroad but all that is out the window now. I thought I was through the worst pain and improving but last night it was burning toes and excruciating pain from the nerves regenerating. I have a very high pain threshold but this put me to tears and almost to the point of wanting to go to the emergency room. I feel so helpless, depressed, and frustrated. The only thing I feel like doing right now is either knitting, reading, watching TV, or sleeping. I'm a professional landscape artist and even painting indoors seems too difficult right now. I am praying that this improves soon. I'm typically a very positive person but this has really thrown me. I would be happy to connect if you like.

    • Posted

      hello cindy11710,

      my apologies for the delayed reply...

      i can sympathize with what your experiencing.

      i would love to connect with you. may i send you my contact information via messaging here on Patient?

    • Posted

      Hi there and to all recent posters,

      I'm Jill from London, UK and my accident on 27th August was trimalleolar fracture dislocation tib, fib and talus bone at back of ankle hiking. Had surgery 1 week later - 3 plates and screws. Know 3.5 weeks on from surgery in my 5th cast in total - 3 reductions in emergency room on the day plus 2 casts since surgery and the pain has thankfully subsided a lot except at night when the nerve pain can be still breathtaking. i take codeine now mostly just at night. i am in a cast until Oct 18th when i move to boot and start physio.

      i too have numbness in toes and a lot of swelling - 2nd toe in particular which bothers me. trying to ice the toe bit not making much difference so far.

      like others here i worry about the long term outcome, my surgeon is breezy about it but equally i have been told by all doctors thus far that it was a bad break.

      im 43, and very active, and reading things on here like 85% of baseline scares me a lot to be honest. my other ankle is quite weak from many bad sprains plus i have mortons neuroma in 2 toes on that foot.

      some days i do feel full of panic and fear about the future - will chronic pain always be there in some form, how far will i be able to hike or cycle before pain kicks in etc.

      i should feel grateful as i have a great partner and a job i cam do from home but some days it feels so hard to be positive!


    • Posted

      bonjour, jillian18398

      it sounds like you've been through a lot and i know well the breathtaking nerve pain of which you speak.

      and i know that the numbness and swelling are disconcerting.

      and, i too, understand having weak ankles from many bad sprains -- with my left one in a boot, i'm taking extra care with my right ankle.

      and i can definitely sympathize with the feelings of panic and fear and the difficulty of staying positive.

      a couple things i have found over the last month that have really helped me are:

      • continually reminding myself of how much better i'm doing now that i was a week prior.
      • i've been doing chair-cardio, chair-pilates, and chair-yoga videos on youtube every day (the videos are by Caroline Jordan if you're interested). those help to keep me moving and make me grateful for what i'm still able to do.

        can you tell me what you mean by "85% of baseline"?


    • Posted

      thanks Heather

      love the sound of chair cardio - will definitely check out the videos.

      someone had previously posted on here that their physio had stated that reality would be getting back 85% of previous functionality.

      i dont know why that scares me so much because its a pretty good stat. i guess in my mind a broken bone or plural is something that heals to 100% of functionality, like my broken wrist as a kid. I maybe dont want to yet accept that there may be things i need to live with, whether thats things im unable to do or stifness/ range of motion. im probably getting ahead of myself. i do that !


    • Posted

      bonjour, Jill!

      (above, i meant to say: "continually reminding myself of how much better i'm doing now THAN i was a week prior.)

      i hope the chair-cardio lifts your spirits.

      ahhh i understand what you're saying now. my husband had a torn and detached retina several years ago and only got back about 30% of his vision in that eye post surgery... i know he'd be thrilled to have 85% of his vision back.

      that said, it's definitely scary to think about only getting 85% of our functionality back. for me, though, that's something i just can't spend my time fretting about because the ankle is gonna do what it's gonna do whether i worry about it or not. all i can do is be the best patient i can by moving as much as possible and doing all the at-home exercises my pt gives me. and the truth is, you and i will be thrilled to just be weight-bearing again and eventually back out on the trails.

      i really hope what i said helps to ease your anxiety some.

      one step at a time... one day at a time... we'll get there.


    • Edited


      I had a broken my ankle 9/18/21 hiking in Malibu and needed to be airlifted. I have a trimallar fracture and had surgery 9/27/21. Currently 4 weeks post op in a cast. I live alone and my right ankle. Very hard to do anything. I do have my moments as well and dread night as i cant sleep comfortable. I too having a hard time .

    • Edited

      hello celina33805,

      i'm sorry to hear that you're struggling. i can only imagine how uncomfortable you are in your cast... is that why you can't sleep?

      and being alone must be incredibly difficult.

      what would you say you're struggling with the most?

      i had some dark days and one thing that really helped me was doing chair-cardio, chair-yoga, and chair-pilates (Caroline Jordan on youtube)... do you think that's something that would help lift your spirits?


    • Posted

      Hello everyone. I somehow stumbled across this forum and seen i'm not alone. I am 2 weeks post surgery for my broken fibula and its been 4 nights exactly the way you guys are feeling. Sleepless with constant numbness at night. I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow so hopefully he lets me do some type of upper body workout in the gym. I'm hoping that will help my anxiety

    • Posted

      hello steven60967

      how are you doing?... are you able to do some upper-body workouts at the gym like you were hoping?

      and how is the numbness?


    • Posted

      i had a trimalleor fracture too... 2 plates 9 screws... in 2015... and STILL have numbness in 3 toes and slightly across the top of my foot... and EXTREME sensitivity on the scar on the outside of my ankle (like barely touch it and thru the roof). Lately it feels like my ankle is seizing up, often. It's not pain so much as just continuous discomfort like it's swollen - but there is no visible swelling. Maybe i'm just getting old and the arthritis is setting in, but I'm over it.

      I'm curious if anyone has had corrective surgery, or if it's even a thing? or any magic supplements or other treatments this long after. And yes, i did all the physio etc and custom orthotics, and exercise it regularly to this day. Zero impact.

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