Transitioning from crutches to FWB

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I had a trimalleolar fracture and dislocation, followed by surgery. I’m 10 weeks post-op and having trouble transitioning from crutches to full weight bearing. I’ve been doing partial weight bearing for a few weeks now but just can’t seem to make that final transition! The area behind my ankle around the Achilles just really hurts to put full weight on. Any advice on how long it usually takes to transition would be helpful. It’s getting very frustrating being on crutches after so long. I did finally start driving today which has been a huge relief. I’m doing PT 3x a week and exercises every day. Any advice is much appreciated!!

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  • Posted

    Hi Samantha I also 10 and a 1/2 weeks out of surgery. They basically reconstructed my foot lol. I now have an arch and screws etc in my ankle, my Achilles lengthened. Pretty big surgery as it looks like you did as well. My rehab starts after I go out of my boot. I have been stretching etc. I am as you are, i was actually down to one crutch and or a cane and sometimes taking steps just in the boot. But this weekend, I have had somewhat of a set back. I dont know if it is nerves waking up or what but the area around my ankle has had pain different then before. I have a call into the Dr. To see what they think. Good luck to you as well. These forums are nice you dont feel as alone in this long process. Lol
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  • Posted

    I found that doing weight shifts before trying to walk really helped. Stand upright with both crutches. Start with most of the weight on your good foot, shift as much weight as you can on your injured side, hold out for a few seconds and then shift back to the good side. I find that if I did this several times before taking a step the pain often wasn't as bad. It might hurt when I did the weight shifts, but it allowed my body a moment to adjust to the pain so that when I started walking it wasn't a shock to the system.

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    • Posted

      Hi Amanda!  Thanks for the response!  Did you do the weight shifts with or without crutches?  I'm wearing my sneakers now but still using 2 crutches.  Haven't been able to shift to just 1 crutch yet. 

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    • Posted

      With crutches in the beginning. I walk unaided now, but sometimes I still do weight shifts, especially if my ankle is feeling a bit stiff.
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  • Posted

    Hi Sam,

    Don't worry-- it will come in time. Be patient.

    I'm sure your practitioner carefully examined your last x-rays before giving the nod to weight bearing. No need to be anxious about the bones now-- they are ready for the load and stress of walking. Besides, in the boot you are protected anyway.

    Do be prepared for a little difficulty in walking that may come your way. It is almost proverbial that ankle patients resuming weight bearing and walking can suffer pain, limping, and annoying foot swelling. Just take it in stride.

    Proper physiotherapy and ankle rehab as appropriate is your ticket to a successful recovery. Stick with the program and you will end up all right.

     

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    • Posted

      Thanks for the response!  I know the bones are safe now but it's more the achilles that is in pain and super tight, which I haven't been able to overcome yet.  I am walking with 2 crutches in my regular sneakers now for a couple of weeks.  I just thought it would go much more quickly once I got back into my regular shoes!!

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  • Posted

    Sam,

    It is fair warning to recovering ankle patients to say that the initial stages of returning to walking can be difficult and painful.

    I'm just so very sorry that practitioners don't explain this in helpful and kindly terms so patients can prepare mentally and emotionally for the shock.

    The main thing is for you to respect your body and its limits. Walk only as the pain is tolerated and don't overdo it-- did I say don't overdo it? Yes. If you need to continue using crutches or a walking cane for a while don't be bashful about it. If you need to be mobile and your ankle is killing you it would not be a bad idea to put the boot back on if it helps.

    Your physiotherapist-- if they are really competent-- is your key health ally now and you should be pumping them for all the information and insight you can. If you are concerned about the achilles tendon then focus on that in your rehab work. If you need to see an ankle specialist (not a surgeon please!) then do that as well.

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    • Posted

      Thanks so much!  I should also mention I'm 7 months pregnant, which adds to the complications of learning to walk again!

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  • Posted

    I feel your pain! I am 11 weeks post ORIF for a bimalleolar, posterior, and medial sleeve allusion fracture and also fractured my fibula. I have been weight bearing as tolerated for 3 weeks, but I am still on both crutches and experiencing a ton of pain if I try to squat at all.
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    • Posted

      Thanks Amanda. It’s a long and tiresome recovery! I have been partial weight bearing I think for three weeks now. It’s been hard to keep track of the time. I thought it would go much more quickly after being given the green light to bear weight. It’s frustrating because I want to make progress more quickly!!
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  • Posted

    walking in the pool helps alot. when i was partial weight bearing i walked in the pool alot and when i was ready to FWB i felt confident to take the first step. i am already 15 weeks post op and i still walk with 1 crutch. i think we will be ready when we are ready to go unaided. walking barefoot hurts
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    • Posted

      Thanks Anne. Yes, I’m still having difficulty making that transition to just 1 crutch. My orthopedist is pressuring me that I’m not progressing fast enough, which I don’t like. It seems everyone recovers at their own pace. 
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    • Posted

      Hi Samantha just take your time and don’t rush into one crutch. I have come across one discussion, having two crutches is ok, especially when you have a little one on the way smile walking in normal gait with two crutches is better than having one but wobbly. It’s more beneficial for your posture, hip, lower back smile 
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