ORIF broken tibula and fibula - concerns on bending ankle forward

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I had breaks in three places in my tibia and Fibula.  

Within four days of the accident I had an operation for which I was awake and plates inside and outside of ankle and above of one plate with eight screws and one with four.  

Your operation seemed to go well and my surgeon appeared very pleased with himself. 

I was non-weightbearing in cast & boot for 6 weeks but now have been weight-bearing for 6 weeks and I have been free of boot for 6 weeks, free of crutches for 2/3 weeks. 

My concerns are whilst I can weight bear fully on  the foot of my damaged ankle/leg I cannot yet stand on my toes to fully weight bear on the ball of my foot.  That is slowly improving. 

 What is slow for me is being able to bend my ankle forwards at 45° angle.

For example if I'm coming downstairs and my mended broken ankle/leg is behind me I cannot bend it  forward enough to support me as I bring my good foot down. 

 I understand that this can sometimes take a while to repair but my consultant was really vague when I asked him if there may be a permanent restriction and didn't seem able to tell me. 

 My physio has told me just keep working at it and that it will come.  

What's your experience of this?  I am quite mature as I am in my late 50s. 

Thank you

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6 Replies

  • Posted

    So you're about 19 weeks out? Congratulations on this far. I am 9 weeks and I have the same problem going down stairs. From what I have taken from all of this ankle recovery, we will be better apt to decide if we're permanently inhibited in a year. I am trying to be patient but stairs are very difficult. I find I can descend better after daily walks and PT exercises. Keep us posted. 

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  • Posted

    Leah, that is natural.  In time you will regain full motion and flexibility.  I had ORIF surgery just about 6 months ago and thought I'd never get full range of motion back.  I spent about 13 weeks with a knee scooter, then about 5 weeks with a walker, then about 4 weeks with a cane.  I now can walk pretty well without assistance on flat surfaces inside and out.  I just need to be careful if I am on grass and the beach is definitely off limits here in Florida, USA.  I did have to do a lot of physio, twice a week for months and all the other days at home I did a lot of stretching and strengthening exercises to build my calf and leg muscles back up.  My toes took the longest as I just couldn't put any weight on them to finish my step.  In time most everything has come back and I'm 66 years of age. I understand that it takes about a year to get back to 95% and after 6 months of working hard at it I believe it.  But it will recover.  I have been further hampered by nerve damage incurred during the surgery which I must admit has been intolerable at times.  I don't wish that on anyone, ever.  the nerve damage is subsiding but ever so slowly.  That is my bigger concern now as opposed to the mechanical functioning of the ankle.  Good luck!!!

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    • Posted

      How did you know you had nerve damage? I can only move two of my toes and my foot feels numb across the top. I am 11 weeks post op and was told I didn't need to wear my boot anymore.

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  • Posted

    Leah, I had the same problem. I had to walk downstairs sideways. It was fixed eventually with physical therapy. I still have not got 100% ROM. For example, I was not able to run. I just had a surgery three days ago to remove the hardware. I am hopping to get more ROM this time. My original surgery was on December 17th 2016. I had a second one in eight months. 
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  • Posted

    Hi leah. im at week 20 now and still cannot come down the stairs normally. I have to put my good foot first then bring the bad foot down to meet it. Im ok going up and can do one in font of the other   'just'. I cant do tip toe either as its too painful, but every day now i can see progress although its not fast enough for my liking. I now have to have operation on my knee on the same leg so have to start all over again..sad    Im 60 so its taken its toll on me.   sx

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