Slightly panicked at ankle stiffness 7 wks after surgery - 15 yo dtr

Posted , 7 users are following.

This discussion has been locked due to a period of inactivity. Start a new discussion

I'm getting slightly panicked at dtr's ankle stiffness 7 weeks after surgery for bimalleolar fracture and dislocation.  Has plates and screws.  Was in cast for 6 weeks, cast off last MOnday.  My husband is physical therapist and he has been manipulating her foot every night and has had her in pool twice.  She will start more formal physical therapy next week after next check.  Her ankle isnt budging, and he's afraid it's locked in place.  Because it's his daughter, he's very emotional about it.  I feel like there must be more potential to deelop range of motion after this point, right?  Athletics were her life, and Im' just so worried for her future.

0 likes, 11 replies

Report

11 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Megan,

    My surgery was not the same as your daughter's, but I have been reading about many ankle issues on here and one thing that I learned early is that ankle recovery takes time!  Sometimes many months!  It is not a body part to injure if you want a quick heal, and believe it or not, 7 weeks is very short!  Very frustrating for many.  Sooooo, I think the only person to be assessing your daughter is the surgeon.  You should face a follow-up visit very soon and he can x-ray to see what is going on in her ankle plus tell you if the slow recovery is normal.  The fact that your husband is a physiotherapist is interesting- if he is very concerned then perhaps there is reason to be, but you need to get her to the doctor to ask your questions.   Good luck!  She is young and athletic and you should see improvement very soon I think.  

    Report
    • Posted

      Thank you for responding!  She has a follow-up visit next week.  He just gets more worried every day, and he is prone to that anyway, and now it's his daughter!  I also have been reading that it takes time, so when he began to kind of imply that her recovery would start slowing down, I wanted to see if I could check on that with folks who had been through it and her other perspectives!

      Report
  • Posted

    I am 13 weeks tomorrow since bimalleolar fracture and fibula fractures in two places, only the last 7-10 days has my stiffness loosened enough to start a kind of walking alone, it’s still stiff but I’m seeing very gradual loosening. I do my exercises every day several times and therapist says now continue the exercises and use will help to loosen more. So it’s a case of trying to use it more and more. It’s a slow process and everyone is different. 
    Report
    • Posted

      Thank you, that's helpful to hear.  I'm just trying to gauge what is perhaps him being emotional about it because it's his own daughter versus the reality.  It sounds like your injury was pretty similar so I'm glad to hear that you are having ongoing loosening over time.

      Report
  • Posted

    I fractured tibia and fibula and had surgery with plate and screws 10 weeks ago.  I, too, have been very discouraged at how slow my recovery has gone, but it is progressing.  I am finally in a boot and walking some, but have to revert back to walker and usually wheelchair if walking very far. At the end of EVERY day, I am in severe pain and absolutely have to have pain meds to be able to sleep...and even then, the pain never goes away, it just takes the edge off.  My foot has a burning sensation that is actually worse than my ankle, and I don’t really understand why but guess it is from the walking after being non-weight bearing for so long. The stiffness is getting better but is still there and bothers me a lot also. I go back to the doctor today and am supposed to start PT this next week if he thinks I’m  ready. I still had too much swelling last visit.  Don’t know if any of this is helpful but just a different perspective from someone else.... Main thing i am learning is that ankle problems TAKE TIME TO HEAL!  We take our bones so much for granted until we break one....OMG!   Best wishes for your daughter...her youth is definitely to her advantage!
    Report
    • Posted

      I'm happy to hear that you are still progressing, slowly but surely, both for you and for my daughter's future!   Though sorry to hear about your pain; we absolutely take living without pain and being able to walk at all, much less pain-free, for granted.  She has had almost no pain since the initial break, which has been good.  I thought that was a good sign, but now that I see stiffness as the main problem, I almost wish for a little pain.  That might mean that the soft tissue is being pushed and moving a little.

      Even though I wish recovery was faster for everyone, it helps to hear from other people that recovery does take time and that her experience is not unique and that there is potential for more healing for a long time to come.  Good luck to you!

      Report
  • Posted

    Megan,

    As a bimalleolar fracture patient (they did not have to cut me) I can certainly empathize with your daughter's situation.

    As has been said here frequently, ankle injuries can be tricky beasts in recovery.

    If the bones healed well at 7 weeks (they usually do) then your child's ankle soft tissue is the problem for a 'frozen' ankle-- perhaps she has some severe tendon/ligament/joint capsule injuries that need some expert care. It's my opinion that most practitioners prefer not to mention all these post-op recovery issues to their ankle patients. But more patient information is always better than too little.

    Generally, resistant ankle soft tissue problems are overcome with time, patience, lots of appropriate ankle physiotherapy and exercises, and an especially appropriate nutritious diet. A positive emotional attitude and support is important too, of course. Massage, light therapy, and PEMF therapy have shown promise as well.

    If necessary, your practitioner can run imaging diagnostics like MRI or ultrasound to investigate the condition of her ankle soft tissue.

    Good luck.

    Report
    • Posted

      Thank you for your response.  I think it is the soft tissue, and my husband is just worried that the more time goes on the less chance of recovering range of motion there will be.  Part of why I posted was to be reminded that it IS a process that takes time and just because we are here now at 7 weeks, does not mean this is where we will be at 12 or 16 weeks.n  I just needed another voice other than his at the moment, even though he is a great resource as a physical therapist!

      I agree that MDs seems reluctant to give specifics about recovery time and about the soft tissue involvement.  We have only gotten as much information as needed for the next few weeks at each appointment.  I kind of understand it, but then it becomes easy to worry that we are not preparing for what is to come or doing everything that is needed.  Thank you again,

      Report
    • Posted

      My stiffness at 7 weeks sounds just like your daughter's. I am at 10.5 weeks now and the flexibility I have now is amazing. I'm probably at about 75-80% up and down and about 60-70% side to side. The band exercises really strengthened it, although I started those at 6 weeks.Then stationary bike-first with no resistance, then light resistance.  Having the therapist manipulate really didn't do much for me, I had to do the work myself. Don't panic-stiffness at this stage is normal and at her age and with physical therapy guidance she should get it back fairly quickly and completely.

      Report
  • Posted

    Is there swelling ..if you have any question so a c.t scan to make sure nothing else is going wrong. Speaking from experiance..I had that injury and the trauma . Keep being an advocate for her...
    Report
    • Posted

      No swelling.  Ankle is just kind of thick from fluid settling in and hard and stiff.  No pain either.  What was your experience?  Did you get range of motion back?
      Report

Join this discussion or start a new one?

New discussion

Report as inappropriate

Thanks for your help!

We want the forums to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the forums are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the forums is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.

newnav-down newnav-up