Quick questions: Ankle surgery 3 months post Opt.

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I'm 35, male, I had the ankle surgery 3 months ago, and had 2 big screws and pin in my ankle. I have 3 quick questions and would be grateful if you could assist:

1) I am not walking without crutches but with a noticeable limp. I am doing PT, but he's applying passive PT meaning I am in alot of pain every session as he's using manual push to move my ankle motion as it's stiff .. Is this recommended? 

2) I'm doing progress in my ROM, but every morning, i feel it's stiff and i can't even walk on it. while after the PT i feel the limp is almost gone. why mornings? and how long would it take to suffer in morning?

3) surgeon after seeing my Xray in 2.5 months, told me that it's healed, and he recommends to remove the big 2 screws,  do you think I should do the surgery? I'm very worried that I'll stay home for 1 week or so! and also, i'm concerned that it would cause some issues! what do you think?

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15 Replies

  • Posted

    1) When I first began PT I could barely move my ankle/foot on my own. The PT did lots of manual pushing on it to get it to move. She also gave me exercises to work on at home. I think the manual work was necessary and I would never gained much ROM without. I never had significant pain from it though. So maybe your PT is pushing harder than needed.

    2.) I'm about 6 months out from surgery with a plate and a bunch of screws. It's still stiff in the morning or during the day when I do move it for a long time. I don't know what causes it, but everything I see suggests that it's normal. I find that if I move my ankle around while in bed (circles, up/down, side to side) for a couple minutes before getting up, it's far less stiff when I first walk.

    3). If he suggests taking the screws out, you probably should. I have not had any screws removed. My doctor didn't see a reason for it in my case. What I've seen from others is that the surgery to remove screws is minor. I've never seen someone regret having anything removed.

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    • Posted

      Yes, most of the time I can walk without a noticeable limp. When it's stiff I have a small limp, but it goes away once my ankle "warms up". If I'm very tired I'll sometimes limp some, but if I focus on my walking I can make it go away.  I have returned to running.  I'm very slow, but I wasn't very quick prior to the injury anyway, so oh well.  Plus it's ridiculously hot right now where I live. But I can run/jog and I'm slowly improving as my adjusts to running again. 

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  • Posted

    I'm having my two big screws removed any day soon, I'm five months on and I'm also stiff in the morning I'm particularly worse flat footed with no shoe do hoping the pins out will make a big difference.

    If u have time swimming is def the best, unfortunately I haven't done hardly anything in the last month due to my working hours.

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  • Posted

    Are you afraid to be at home for a week? I am at home for 10 weeks. I had talus fracture. Doctors put me a cast for 12 weeks no need surgery. I accustomed with it. I was a good footballer but now I am walking with a crutches. I don't know even I will back to sports or not but I believe. I will do PT after 2 weeks removing a cast.

    Best wishes. Save yourself

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    • Posted

      I have a job, and other stuff to handle, no more staying home. doc says you'll stay only 2 days, but i doubt that.. 

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  • Posted

    Kilany,

    No surgery here, still I can empathize with your struggles to get back on your feet.

    You had a double negative in your first sentence under point (1), but I think you meant to say you are walking without crutches, but with a limp.  That's encouraging.

    I've heard morning ankle stiffness is pretty common in recovering ankle patients so just take it in stride. Not sure about causes of this, but I would guess during night lymph fluid and toxins accumulate down there and cause the morning stiffness. Moving around a bit then moves this stagnant fluid out.

    Your therapist is trying to get the kinks out of your bashed in soft tissue in ankle, so naturally it is going to hurt. But no pain no gain (but don't do anything that causes unbearable pain or you might hurt something).

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    • Posted

      its really hard and painful the PT, but i can't diagree that i makes my ankle better, specially after the session i feel so good and i can walk only little limp, but after a while i gets back to stiffness and i struggle again with more limp

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  • Posted

    I’m several years out and feeling great. I was worried about the screws all the time until I passed the one year mark. That was a waste of worry for me as it turned out. I now see the hardware as extra strengthening instead of a foreign body inside me, that must not be good for me I never notice hardware any more and began feeling 100% about 14 months out. Month 4 is a huge turning point. The pain is part of the healing it seems. Everything fires one tendon at a time it seems and pain is a moving target.  I started learning pain meant something new was firing and becoming alive again. Try epsom salt very warm baths in the morning while doing your stretches. Mornings are the worst for tightness. Thought I’d never be the same again and have arthritis the rest of my life, even if I could walk nornallly again one day .  None of it was true. Ankles just take forever! The body is amazing at knowing how to heal you if you can be patient and work hard. Hang in there. No one tells you that the first 2-4 weeks are truly depressing as you realize  the long road ahead of you, month 4 is the turning point and it’s takes a year to feel almost 100%- but it is absolutely possible. I had a tri-malleolar break with 13 screws and a plate installed. Only hurts if I accidentally skin the ankle on something hard- otherwise I never think about my ankle any more, except when walking on something slippery- you never want to walk this walk again! This too will pass though. Eat healthy- don’t smoke and be positive- no one but people here could ever understand what you’re going through! And I learned quickly that no one really wants to hear much about your struggles and tiny advances except those who understand and have been through this. This site is a life saver. Remember to look at advances bi-monthly instead of daily, as there can be daily ups and downs and that’s just how the healing works, but every two weeks there are jumps. Keep a journal and see how far you have come! Wish I had! My journal is in the archives of my daily chats with friends I made on this site who supported me through it all and made me feel there was hope and I what I was going through was normal! 
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    • Posted

      your words are a source of encouragement. what makes me feel good is that im improving, it's slow, but it's moving toward better results. I decided to do the hardware removal. as most of the people who did felt slightly better. I am planning to travel to entertain myself, i've been down in the last 3 months, it was tough that i even couldn't carry my kids. or run with them, the good positive thing is that i become more patient. but sometimes i get angry when i can't do things that i used to. 

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  • Posted

    I am 37 and i am 21 weeks post ORIF. I have a combination of plates, pins, and screws. My surgeon has told me that he doesn't remove hardware unless it is causing problems.

    I have also had issues with my ankle being extremely stiff affecting my range of motion. Some days are better then others and most of my steps hurt, but not as bad as they did in the beginning.

    I was a runner prior to my injury. I have tried running once and it was excruciating! Hoping that changes!

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  • Posted

    Stiffness is common in the morning because your body temp drops at night. Body loosens as temp rises later in day.

    Why remove screws? Are they a problem? Hardware usually stays unless it’s a problem.

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