Post op swelling and pain 8 weeks

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Hi there!

I am 8 weeks post op (left fibula malleolus repair requiring 1 screw to fix it, 58 years old) and am having trouble walking  even with crutches because my foot and lower part of my leg still have quite a bit of swelling. When I wear my brace it makes imprints in my leg that I can see when I take it off. If I press my finger into my flesh anywhere between my shin or on the top of my foot it slowly squishes down and a dent remains where my finger pressed down. It takes a few minutes to return to its normal state of puffiness. Is this normal?

It is too painful to walk on although I am pushing myself to walk on it as much as possible with 2 crutches. 

I am beginning to worry that it could be compartment syndrome, has anyone had experience with that ?

Thanks in advance for your reply! Susan

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  • Posted

    Hi Susan. Not that it will make you feel much better, but I'm six months out and still have a lot of swelling and pain. 
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  • Posted

    Sorry - I hit enter before I was finished. Anyway, one thing that has helped the swelling for me is wearing a compression stocking. You should raise that with your doctor. For me, the swelling is the worst on the inner part of my ankle (i.e., not the fibula which was broken and surgically repaired), and also on the bottom of my foot and toes. The two worst things for me are the continuous burning I get on the inner part of my ankle and the strange (numb) feeling I get in my toes and bottom of my foot. I'm stilling doing my PT, although I'm doing it at home now. My doctor says it could take up to 18 months to recover. So to sum it up, what your experiencing 8 weeks out is likely very normal, but of course you need to see what your doctor says. Good luck in your recovery!
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    • Posted

      Thank you! I did end up getting compression stockings after seeing my doctor today and he also recommended them along with icing and resting and elevating more than I have been since I got the cast off. He also recommended that I massage my foot with upward motion to get the blood back up my leg. 
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  • Posted

    Hi Susan,

    I am 11 weeks post op. I had a tendon transfer, reconstruction of my arch using a donor bone.

    The first week and a half of wb was extremely painful even with the help of crutches. The worst pain I Hanne experienced since childbirth 26 years ago. The Dr said after walking 15 miles it would get easier. I started out doing a mile a day working to 2 miles. It still swells from my knee down and is painful but much better than in the beginning. In the beginning I couldn't imagine ever being able to put full weight on that foot but I'm finally able to walk (limp) a little ways without any crutches but still use 1 most of the time. One week and a half after the surgery I cried for 2 hours I was so discouraged [and I'm not a crier] but the next day, almost like a light switch, I was able to use 1 crutch.

    Make sure you call the Dr if you think something isn't right.

    Good luck!

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    • Posted

      Thanks you! It sounds like you  are going through a much more complicated healing process than mine. I was also crying a few weeks ago because I just hit a breaking point that I did not know I could ever have. I don't cry and Cary on over things either. Reading entries on this website pulled me through.  I did see my doctor today and he has given me direction for RICEing my swelling. 
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  • Posted

    Hello Susan.  I cannot comment as to your symptoms but i presume you are using the RICE Protocols.  REST : ICE : COMPRESSION : ELEVATION 

    Go with what your body tells you.   Don't push yourself to walk if it creates too much pain

    Go seek professional advice

    Good luck

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    • Posted

      thank you! I was not RICEing. I am starting today. I was not told to RICE after the cast came off. I was elevating and resting but not Icing and compressing.  Once I got into the boot I was cautious not to over tighten it, and was told not to take it off except when I was bathing. Now that I am in a splint, I did not start icing it because They did not tell me to, even when I went to PT last week. Any way I saw my doctor today and I have pitting edema and he told me to RICE.
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  • Posted

    Hi. I'm almost 8 months post surgery and still have swelling 24/7 on my ankle plus sometimes on my lower leg. It is always stiff especially when I first get out of bed, I still walk with a limp, although that is improving slowly. I still experience slight pain on my right side of ankle. I've been back at work almost 5 months on my feet 10-12 hours, my foot is sometimes a slightly different colour to the other one and sometimes feels colder. I elevate, ice, massage etc but stopped physio as basically they said I'm doing all they suggest, and it's a time frame of between 0-12 months to recovery.

    Its early days yet for you but try and remain positive, keep doing your exercises and if in doubt contact your gp, especially if you experience blue colour, coldness, numbness etc. I wish you a quick recovery

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    • Posted

      Thank you! are you wearing compression socks at work? I just got some and they feel really good although they are hard to get on my stiff and sensitive ankle.
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  • Posted

    Hi Susan 

    your early days yet!  I'm 6 mos in and couldn't use crutches so wheelchair and walker - compartment Syndrone is unlikely but you should check with your Dr on that, I got diagnosed at 2 mos with RSD/CRYPS, so it delays healing time - swelling does well with elevation, I could not do ice, so I did gentle massage and warm water foot baths.  Just to let you know I only fully weight bearing in last month, we're  all different levels of recovery, be gentle on yourself. It's a process not a race, I'm not walking yet unaided and getting on forearm crutches just now. I'm not your average ankle surgery story so be patient, you'll get there. Wishing you well....

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    • Posted

      thank you for your reply! I'm sorry you were diagnosed with RSD/CRYPS. I looked it up and it sounds like a real bummer. I saw my primary care doctor today and he recommended RICE and I am going for it now. Got compression socks, a special gel pad that I can freeze and should not be too cold, and I need to rest more between my pays ion sessions and elevate a lot more. I have a problem sitting still. And I can drive because it's my left foot.  While I was out visiting my doc too and generally overdoing it yet again, I also bought a foot bath spa thing to give my foot a nice warm spa session, and a massage thingy that's a bunch of ball bearings you roll on the tissue. It feels really good, and is suppose to help get the blood flowing back up my leg. 
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    • Posted

      Happy you got some answers Susan. Have same foot bath, put Epson salts in, it helps detox the foot with swelling.  Your going get there, patience to me is the key.........👣
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  • Posted

    See Dr to check it out,ASAP. Then a physiotherapist to point you in right direction. I am 8 months post break, 4 months post op. I have a large wheeled freedom Walker. Big wheels and a seat! It took me 8 weeks post op until I had my casts off. Couldn't put my foot down at all. Too rounded and swollen.

    You are way ahead of what I was. I can't fully weight bare yet, but am getting close. But only for short periods.

    Once Dr clears you for anything extra wrong, know that recovery can be a long process. Ligaments and tendons can be stretched and damaged. I use a knee walker when I have to do something in a hurry, and at night around tea time when the swelling is worse.

    Get a Physio to give you a plan. Compression bandage works for me when swelling bad. Anti inflammatories too. Check with Dr first.

    I am of a similar age and have a plate and 6 screws and had a bone graft.

    I walked up and down hall x2-3 very slowly very lightly weight baring. 10%, and then sat back down with foot elevated above heart for a couple of hours unless I had to get up.Physio and Specialist told me to increase weight baring by approx 10% each week. Only a guideline. You may be doing too much with not enough R.I.C.E..

    I wore my moonboot 24/7 for 4 weeks after my cast was off. I never felt safe to weight bare without it. Then I progressed to shoes but I have to peel shoe off at times.

    My foot still goes purpley red when I have a shower or go swimming. Good luck :+)

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    • Posted

      Thank you! I'm going to get an opinion form my primary care doctor.. I maybe worrying over nothing but better safe than sorry!
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    • Posted

      I also have a knee scooter and it has saved me from going completely insane! I live in a condo and my car is really far from my front door so I still use it to come and go from my home to my car. I can drive since I broke my left ankle so that was lucky, in a way! I keep crutches in my car AND in my apartment so I don't have to carry them with me to the car! I'm so clever! 
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    • Posted

      That is clever. I have two sites of crutches. I just keep falling off them. I can't drive. I go downstairs on an outdoors stairlift with my knee scooter or walker on my knees. Then off I go.
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    • Posted

      Oh that sounds like such a hassle! I thought my trek to get outside was bad! I went to see my doc and there is no reason for alarm with my swelling, I need to RICE more. I was instructed to get compression socks and wear them all day, elevate more, and ice more, rest more. I was confused after starting PT, thought I was suppose to try to walk a lot and that the movement would improve the swelling. MY ortho surgeon was trained that the inflammatory process is important for bone healing and was not encouraged to ice and try t reduce the inflammation. I understand the science behind this , and have been willing to suffer with the inflammation for better tensile strength of my newly healed bone, but I need to get control of this swelling now so I can return to work. 
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