Trimalleolar fracture and ORIF surgery

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I broke my ankle on 19 May 2018 and had ORIF (open reduction internal fixation) surgery the next day. I was put in a splint and given instructions not to put any weight on the leg for 2 months. 2 weeks later the splint came off and the stitches came out. Turns out the splint had been put on incorrectly, wrapped completely around my leg causing the swelling to have nowhere to go and pressing out against the plaster. It wasn't very much fun. Now, with this boot, at least I can take it off when I'm sitting to air my leg out and ice my ankle. My problem is, I can't sleep with it on! Tonight marks the 5th night that I have not slept properly because of this boot. Right now it is 0217 and I would normally be asleep. I just can't find a comfortable position with this thing. It presses on both incisions and causes just enough of a twinge that sleep escapes me. Bed, couch... doesn't matter. Propped up, laid down... no difference. I can't take much more of this. I find myself drifting off with the boot removed during the day.

But why exactly do I need the boot at night anyway? I don't move around a lot and I am very aware of the injury while I am sleeping. I wonder if just one night without it would hurt???

Anyway, I hope all of you who are in this same or a similar situation heal quickly. I'm looking forward to walking again. The road is long and sometimes painful that we travel, but we will endure.

Semper fi.

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  • Posted

    I hear ya.. for the first six weeks (while I was non weight bearing I was too scared to sleep without the boot on. But after 4 weeks of restless sleep J started leaving it open and secured very loosely. I elevated it and a body pillow on each side of me to keep from rolling onto my side. I also wrapped a gel pack covered with a pillowcase around my ankle inside the boot at night. For me the mist painful thing about the boot was the pressure on my heel. I was literally concerned that I would develop a pressure sore.
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    • Posted

      Hi Lisa. I've only been in the boot for 5 nights, but I've had no sleep. I took it off this morning at 0430 and fell asleep with it off for about an hour. I didn't move. I am going absolutely crazy and getting more depressed by the day. This is horrible. 6 more weeks of no weight bearing is going to put me down really badly.

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    • Posted

      I know how that feels. My husband was out of town for 4 of my 6 weeks in a wheelchair. Two nights after he got home I was awakened with sharp chest pain and shortness of breath. I had thrown a P.E. from my operative leg. While you are non weight bearing, try your best to do some leg lifts and move that foot a little. When I was able to start PT at 3 weeks I felt much better. I never knew it took so long for this type of injury to heal. I have been an ortho nurse for 11 years and had never seen an injury like mine. I have the very first xray taken of the injury and it is shocking how much damage was done from falling off of my bicycle. Once you are able to bear weight things will get better. Hang in there.
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  • Posted

    I had the same break and surgery on the 24th. While I just got put in a cast instead of the boot, I have found a few things that help me. I’m a side sleeper so sleeping on my back is horrible. I try to rotate my leg and lay on whichever side hurts the least ( for me it’s my right side) it doesn’t bother the incisions or hurt too much. Also maybe take a Tylenol PM before bed if you are NOT on blood thinners. I used to take pain pills to help me fall asleep but that doesn’t work anymore. I’ve found that the first few days of something new (cast, splint, etc) is very painful and uncomfortable, but once swelling goes down and the foot gets used to it, pain lessens and it’s a little more comfortable. I hope it gets better for you! 
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    • Posted

      Hi KK234987. I unfortunately am on aspirin as a blood thinner to prevent clots. I don't know why as I am only 38, but that's what the doctor ordered. I am a stomach sleeper so there is no position that is comfortable for me right now. I am also on CPAP for sleep apnea which I am not using while on the couch and that prevents me from falling asleep on my back. But I will survive! One day at a time! I hope mine stops swelling soon. It's a pain in the butt....or leg. Hope you heal up soon!

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  • Posted

    Although ankle fractures and subsequent ORIF surgeries are very low risk for DVT, I think you are wise to take the aspirin. I developed a DVT while I was non weight bearing and threw a P.E. Never can be too safe.
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    • Posted

      I do leg lifts and hip exercises as well as my therapy for my ankle so hopefully no DVTs for me! I am up on my crutches way more than I should be at this point. I have fallen and caught myself with my broken ankle a couple of times and put weight on it accidentally many more times. I'm hoping it heals properly. Right now, though, I just want some sleep!

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  • Posted

    I had my ORIF on 3/13/18. I couldnt sleep really for about a week. I just took it off at night and put pillows on both sides of the bad ankle. I think they want you to sleep with it to avoid moving the bones out of alignment. I put the pillows and was able to sleep on my back for a few hours. Ask your doc. I was initially instructed to wear it 24-7,and I called crying after a week, I was so tired and they gave me go ahead to take it off at night.
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    • Posted

      Hi cryssy28! Unfortunately my doc wants me to wear my boot at night because of the involvement of my Achilles tendon. If I don't wear it, my foot will relax too much at night and the tendon will get tight and cause that much more therapy to get my ROM back. So, I'm reduced to sleeping a few hours with the boot on and then talking to wonderful people such as yourself at 0130 in the morning to keep myself from going crazy! smile I hope you heal quickly and get back to normal life soon! Semper fi!

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