Serious pain and swelling 5 years after double fracture

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I had a double fracture of the ankle 5 years ago. By and large it healed pretty well and I was able to do most activities like vigorous lengthy walking and cycling until recently in the last couple of months have begun to get bad swelling and pain and some days can barely walk.

I have been seeing the surgeon and working through options. He has suggested maybe a fusion eventually but not now, more likely in a few years. He thinks it can be managed with anti inflammatories in the time being. I'm not so sure . Am becoming depressed as I feel like I'm almost crippled at the age of 47.

Anyway just want to see if anyone has been through something similar and has any suggestions.

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  • Posted

    Not good you are so young. I would be concerned about the anti inflammatory medication. If you go down that track protect yourself from nasty side effects. Try natural alternatives or turmeric tabs. Have you had ex ray to see why you have pain. Take care. Do you have any hardware in it.  I'm told we're high risk arthritis after ankle break with or without hardware. I hope you get some answers. 

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your reply Jenni. Yes I have hardware and have had X-ray, cat scan and MRI. The surgeon explained at great length what the problem was, much of which I didn't really understand but essentially it's arthritic and loss of cartilage, and not caused by the hardware. 

      Initially he considered some form of cartilage graft, apparently common for knees but not so much for ankles. He decided against that after it responded well to rest and NSAIDS. So now he wants to hold off on any surgery and eventually do a graft when the pain becomes unmanageable. However after returning to normal activity it's become quite painful again. I'm due to see him again in a couple of weeks. 

      I know a good osteopath so am going to try that next.

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    • Posted

      Sorry meant to say he wants to fuse the ankle eventually, not do a graft.
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  • Posted

    It's all so frightening. I know I will not allow another surgery unless I'm on my death bed. My experience was a horror one and I have a anaesthesia specialist I'd like to be let loose on and a few nurses and one physio who needs her clipboard put into bodily cavities not designed for clipboards. I'm pretty disgusted.   My husband thankfully used his terminator voice and said "I'll be taking her home" discharge was swift and trouble free. They knew he was not a happy man after they came to give me a morphine shot they had already given me.i was so drugged out of my mind.  That was just the tip of the iceberg tho I now fear hospital worse than dentists. Are you looking at alternatives to anti inf. god I hate them and the long term damage.  I do hope you have good supportive family and friends.  I do remember being quite unjustifiabley cross with husband a few times , he handled it with good grace.  Pain does awful things. Luckily for me he's worked in the industry and understands. 

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  • Posted

    Hi Brett,

    So sorry to hear about your unfortunate brush with ankle problems again after 5 years of mostly symptom-free living. Life can have a way of throwing challenges and vexing problems our way, can't it?

    I fortunately avoided surgery after my ankle fracture, so I can not directly speak to that experience.

    From your story it seems your injury 5 years ago left your ankle in a compromised state, and the ensuing years of wear and tear on ankle are now starting to show. That wear is unfortunately a part of aging for most of us to a greater or lesser degree.

    Your physician is correct in taking a conservative wait-and-see approach to possible fusion surgery. Elective surgery should always be considered as a last-recourse measure. Surgery of any kind is invasive, can lead to complications, and there is no guarantee of lasting success in long run.

    So what can you do now to improve your quality of life and hopefully forestall for a long, long time the need for surgery?

    I would take steps to lower inflammation in your body. Inflammation has finally been outed as a major contributer to degenerative diseases throughout the body, including arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. Avoid a junk diet and stimulants that can stir up inflammation. Besides OTC or prescription anti-inflammatory drugs (which I wouldn't use due to side-effects) there are many natural herbs and other nutriceuticals that can help extinguish tissue inflammation. And we all know how ice packs can cool down local swelling and inflammation effectively.

    Secondly, there are a number of dietary supplements that have been proven clinically effective in improving musculo-skeletal issues like arthritis and loss of cartilage due to aging or injury. I encourage you to research these nutritional adjuncts. Some of the more effective ones are chondroitin, glucosamine, collagen, vitamin C, and MSM.

    Thirdly, if it were me I would limit stress and strain on affected ankle parts by reducing unnecessary strenuous walking or running, at least until you see some improvement. Perhaps your doctor may want to see you in an airboot or an ankle brace for a while to give that ankle a chance to heal some more.

    In any case, I wish you a full, non-surgical recovery back to normal ankle function.

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