Broken Fibula and Dislocated Tibia

by Nick C
(SpringHill, FL)

My Leg X-ray

My Leg X-ray

About 7 weeks ago I was playing football and broke my leg. I fractured my lower left fibula and the tibia dislocated from the ankle. I had surgery to put in a titanium plate and screws on the fibula. I had a cast on for 6 weeks and just had that taken off.


My Dr said I still cant put any weight on my leg for another month but that I could start range of motion exercises for my ankle. My ankle seems to be the only place I really have pain. My leg doesn't hurt at all where the break was.

What are some exercises I can do with my ankle to get motion back? and how long can I expect to be down from this injury.

I'm 24 years old and have played sports all my life. This is my first serious injury....

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Nov 25, 2012
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Not Improving NEW
by: Anonymous

I broke my fibula and had 6 screws put in from the injury. Four months later I had knee reconstruction on the other side, due to the pressure. Since my knee surgery, I have found out that the ankle diloacation caused nerve damage in my foot and leg.

Anyone have answers?

Apr 30, 2011
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Doing well
by: Pul lover

I am nearly fully recovered from my leg injury. I will occasionally wear my black boot if walking a long distance or around a lot of people (airplanes). I have recently found out that I will not be receiving PT as where we live, the insurance does not cover it. I will be talking with people that I know for suggestions for exercises. Balance sense to be the biggest issue at this time. Suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Apr 29, 2011
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how I'm recovering,,
by: Jordangrrrl

after 6 months of me breaking my tibia and fibula,, I still have alot of pain, I been going to P.T 3 times a week, and beginning to walk, slow, its just hard when I walk because when I hit a crack oh do I feel it YES!!!! I get scared so I"m careful all the time, all my pretty high heels are still put away, I long to wear them soon,, but for now my tennis shoe nikes are doing good, as far as me running well thats gonna tak a while because I still limp!!!! but I'm so thankful and grateful that I'm walking again on both feet, even though I limp it feels wonderful, even though I have theses two hidious scars I dont care, as long as I'm healing, I'm feeling better everyday,,,, and for those two crutches I have dont need u anymore,,, everyone who has had a broken bone,, I hope you get better :) and take care of your self,,, patience prayer, eating right and resting go long ways,,,,,,,,, always Jordangrrrl :)

Mar 15, 2011
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Icy step
by: pug lover

On Jan. 19, 2011 I slipped on one step due to a VERY thin sheet of ice. I ended up with a spiral fracture of the fibula and a dislocated tibia. My dr. installed a metal plate and 9 screws. I left surgery with an open cast. Two weeks later I had the stitches removed and went home with a big black boot. All seems to be healing and I can walk with or without the boot in 3 more days. My biggest concern is that my back hurts all of the time from uneven walking.

I was new to the area and have received wonderful care in Spokane. Very impressed all around.

Jan 08, 2011
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experience
by: kurt a

I had the exact same injury way back on oct 12th, 2005. Anterior dislocation of the tibia with mid shaft fracture of the fibula. I underwent surgery but luckily I had no need for any nails or plates. What bothers me is the clicking sound when I forcefully lateral rotate and dorsiflex the ankle at the same time...even when walking or running, but i grew to bear it. Best of luck m8!!

Dec 21, 2010
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broken fibia and fibula
by: Jordangrrrl

I broke my right fibia and tibula on Oct.31, 2010 I just fell down, how painful,,, I had to get surgery and now I have a plate and screws in my little foot!!! My dr, removed my stitches and staples and now I have 2 hidious scars,, I got a cast now but I still cannot bear any weight on my right foot as the dr. said until I have physical therapy,, in 4-5 weeks, its been a long hall for me, I been taking good care of myself, taking vitamins and drinking alot of milk, I only take the pain meds when I'm really hurting, but I'm doing better each day passes, I cant wait till i walk and run again and get back on both of my feet,,,,, this injury has been hard but positiveness and patiiece goes long ways,,,,

Mar 23, 2010
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Michael
by: Jackie



Hmm I would check with a doctor or PT about the blistering. They used staples on my scar. I know another person who had stitches used on her scar and hers has healed better than mine, while using Mederma. I did start running. I should have started running much earlier because it would have healed a lot better. It will still take a long time to heal. I've been working it and it continues to get sore. Hers did too, for about a year after surgery. I can't feel the top of the plate anymore but yes, I used to be able to feel it.

Mar 20, 2010
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scar
by: michael

even with the wrap it has blistered and is more "thicker" at the bottom of the scar; from my skate.

have you started to run/sprint yet?
i can jog( 16 weeks this tuesday).
i can feel the top of the plate and when i apply pressure i feel pain.
do/did you have this ?

Mar 07, 2010
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Re: Scar
by: Jackie


The scar definitely irritates me, depending on the shoe I wear (I wear a lot of boots) and it does irritate me in the hockey boot but things have gotten better. I'm not sure about the blistering. I have not had that. I always wear long socks when I play hockey. Also, start getting your scar used to feeling things. Physical therapy said to start by rubbing a cotton ball along the scar and work your up to a toothbrush. It's building up the tolerance on your scar so that it doesn't get irritated. But the blistering you talk about scares me. Is it blistering even after you have used the wrap?

Mar 07, 2010
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scar
by: michael

im back now but the only thing that seems to irritate me is the scar rubbing on my skate. i use special wrap i got from the doctor but it still starts to blister after aboout an hour ?

thanks

Feb 26, 2010
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That's great!
by: Jackie

That's great that you're back to 80%! What do you mean by healed? It still is sensitive. But to try to make the scar less noticable, I use Mederma, twice a day. I slacked off when I thought it looked better and then I saw another girl's that plays hockey here and you can hardly see hers so I started applying the cream again, twice a day. The hard part is they used staples on mine instead of stitches so I have little, itty bitty dots, that most likely, only I notice.

Feb 25, 2010
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skating
by: michael

jackie,
im back to about 80% and the only thing that bothers me is the scar. is your scar healed 100% ?

thanks

Feb 03, 2010
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jackie
by: michael

alright well that brought my hopes up.
ive been stressing everyday as to what it will feel like a few months down the road.

but time will fly and ill be back before i know it.

thank you

Feb 02, 2010
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Michael
by: Jackie

I was very sore in the beginning and I still feel a slight bruising pain in the front of my shin where it hits the ankle area.

The more I worked out, the more I sore I got but most of the "pain" or sore feeling goes away.

The first time I put on my skate it felt out of place. The pressure on the plate was unreal. But I tied my skate tighter and basically forced myself past that feeling and I don't notice that kind of feeling anymore.

Mine is almost back to natural feeling on the ice. Not quite off the ice though. In fact, mine still gets swollen.

It's been 8 months since surgery. I do not wear a brace anymore. After surgery, I was in a boot for 6 to 8 weeks and then a brace for 6 more weeks. Nobody told me to continue to wear the brace so I haven't. The brace actually hurt worse because of the parts on the side of the brace rubbed right into where my scar/plate are.

As for full strength, I would say I am not back to full strength. I am back to what I was, but that was never full strength. If I had been doing my own therapy and working out after physical therapy was done, I would be at full strength, I believe. But I was not smart and did not continue my therapy at home once the sessions were over.

I did have to go to a specialist running shoe store because when I run or even walk, my foot compensates and tries to lean/turn in, so there is less prassure on my ankle/fibula area. I had to get a pair of shoes with a higher arch area on the inside of my foot.

But yes, if you're big on hockey, that uncomfortable feeling will disappear. Especially once you're on the ice, skating, and playing. It'll be the furthest thing from your mind.

Feb 01, 2010
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jackie
by: michael

thanks for the reply.

i am walking now and going to physio every other day.
its a bit sore walking but nothing big.
im big on hockey and i tried putting my skate on for feel and it felt VERY weird and uncomfortable.
im just curious as to whether this will change with time and if it will feel better and more natural.

do you wear a brace, tensor, etc.?
and how many weeks was it (from beginning to end) before you were full strength ?

im at 9 weeks this tuesday.
im

Jan 28, 2010
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Hockey
by: Jackie

Michael,

I can feel it before I get on the ice but that is because it's a mind thing (I think). When I'm in the game and playing, I don't notice it. The only issue I have is that it's still a bit sensitive to touch because my plate and screws are right above my ankle bone. One thing I would suggest is to get your skate boots "baked" to be re-sized to your foot, if it has affected your foot size. I have noticed the tighter I tie my skates, the better I feel during and after the game but I was definitely hurting after the first game.

I do not plan on having it removed. I don't want to be "down" anymore. Although I was told recovery time is obviously a lot quicker than before but it's not bothering me enough to go through that again. And the doctor couldn't gurantee what condition my bone would be in as far as stronger or weaker.
My physical therapist suggested I rub stuff against my scar to get it used to feeling different things. She said (when I first when through surgery) to start with a cotton ball and get up to a toothbrush. Unfortunately, I didn't do this so I am doing it now. Also, balance discs are great for strengthing it. Squats and getting up to one legged stances/squats while on the balance disc will help. Plus it strengthens your legs for the games ;-)

I know this is long but I hoped I answered your question sufficiently and helped with anything else. Let me know if you have anymore issues.

Jan 27, 2010
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broken fibula
by: michael

jackie,

i am also a hockey player. i realize you are back on the ice by now. how does it feel with the hardware in ? im a few weeks from skating.
are you getting it removed ?

thanks

Jan 04, 2010
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See your doctor
by: John Ross

My wife recently had the same injury almost exactly (date of injury Nov 23 2009)you might be experiencing arthritic pain or any number of perifial damage from the incident, such as strained (hopefully not torn)ligaments, muscles, etc. Any time you have a broken bone, calcium deposits form to repair the damage. This creates an arthritic condition which can be painful but may not limit your ability if you can deal with the pain. learn pain management. Strained or torn soft tissue is a more severe issue. You should follow up with your doctor and seek guidance from your physcal therapist.

Oct 12, 2009
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bruising pain
by: Bart - SII

Nick, it would be a good idea to follow up with your doctor. It could be any number of things. First thing that comes to mind from what you describe (deep, bruising type pain that increase with running) is possibly a stress fracture. It could also be muscle strain, or just continued recovery from the original injury.

Get it checked out to see what it is, as these types of things often don't just go away.

Bart

Oct 03, 2009
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Attn Bart!! Pain in Area of Break
by: Nick C


Ok, So this is my original posting. I broke my fibula back on 9/5/08. I have been fully involved with sports for the last 6 months or so full speed with no issues except a little normal pain and swelling here and there. Recently I have been getting pain in the area of my mid-ankle/ side of calf where the break was and the best way I can describe it is as a deep tissue bruise. If I push in that area it feels as if its bruised and is very tender. After running for a length of time it will hurt as well. What can this be? Should I go back to my physical therapist? Who can I see in regards to the muscles in that area? To me it seems more like a muscle and tissue problem than that of a bone problem. Any information would be great, cause I really dont know what i should do or who i should see..... Thanks!!!

-Nick

Aug 18, 2009
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Broken tibia
by: Phil

I broke my leg playing rugby in march and now back playing again. I concentrated on walking without a limp walking backwards forwards sidewards and skipping. Also try a wobble board start using that also a trampet just gentle bouncing helps go through the pain if its more then a 5 out of 10 pain stop. Because of his age recovery should be pretty quick. Swellling is normal good old fashion rice rise ice compression elevation. Get him cycling lots too good movement through ankle. When he is confident with all that start some plymetric work with him great for core stability also if he can perform a full squat backside to the floor he is doing well and ankle should be stable.

Aug 18, 2009
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RE: Worried Mom
by: Nick


From what I have been told, ankle swelling was normal, and that it could last for up to a year!! When I went to rehab they had me try to move my ankle in a circular motion, write the alphabet with my foot, all excercises to help get mobility in the ankle again. For the swelling, they had me take a shallow pan, something able to hold about 5 inches of water (enough to put your foot up to your ankle in) and put ice cold water in one, and warm water in another. Start with the ankle in the cold water with ice cubes for 30 seconds, then go right into the hot water for another 30 seconds, and then right back into the cold water again. Alternate like this, 3 times in each, and do this about 3 times a day. Thats some things they had me do and it should help. Also after any excercise, he should be icing the leg where the break was. Hope this helps, and good luck!!

Aug 18, 2009
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Recovery from a broken
by: Worried Mom

My 13 yr old broke his tibia 8 weeks ago playing football. It did not require surgery or resetting. He was casted for 7 weeks and just got the cast off a week ago. He can put full weight on his leg without pain but his ankle is still very swollen. Is this normal? What kind of rehab exercises can he do at home that will strenghten his ankle? How long will it take before he will be normal?


Aug 09, 2009
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i feel your pain. =/
by: Michael

i had the same thing happen, except i was playing baseball and got slid into. i had a splint for a week, surgery, a splint for 2 weeks, a cast for a month, and a walking boot for 2 months. great recovery time! but what i did was, (if your not in a cast or a set boot), to just flex your ankle up and down repeatedly. i kind of just set my foot on the floor and rolled it up and down.

well good luck with the recovery! :)

Jul 24, 2009
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Thank you
by: Jackie

Thanks for your help. I'll be "allowed" to get back on the ice in August so hopefully, with the boot, I won't be able to feel it. I know I can feel the hardware when I sit indian style, etc so that scared me. But you're right about the boot and having more support. Thanks. :-)

Jul 23, 2009
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My Brace, Playing Hockey, Etc
by: Anonymous


Hey Jackie, Thanks for the interest in my story. The brace I went with was the ASO (Ankle Stabalizing Orthosis). However, I only wear it when Im playing baseball, or anything that involves running. As for hockey, I dont wear it. I just make sure I lace my skates up good and I havent had any issues or pain. The hockey boot is alot more stable than say a sneaker, ya know? As for the plate, I still have it, along with 7-9 screws holding it on the bone. I dont notice any weird feelings in my leg from the hardware as if i could actually feel the screws on my leg or anything, So i cant say i know what you mean about that. Hope this helps you out!!

Jul 22, 2009
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Broken Fib - What brace did you choose
by: Jackie

I was reading through everything on here and your research on the ankle brace sparked my interest. I broke my fibula playing hockey in April. I now have 1 plate and 7 screws that can be taken out in a year, if I choose to have them taken out. I can handle to "feeling" the hardware every now and then because I overdid walking/working out, etc but I'm scared as to how the hardware will feel inside my hockey boot. Do you still have your plate or was that removed with the screws? If you do still have your plate, do you have any advice as to what, other than re-shaping my hockey boot, what can help me not feel my plate as I'm playing? I was thinking of getting a brace and then reshaping the boot with the brace on. Any suggestions? I should be back on the ice in August and in equipment in September, ready for play.

Jun 13, 2009
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what worked?
by: John

Hi Nick,
I had a very similar injury to yours, a dislocated tibia above the ankle (though no fibula fracture), and I'm now a month post-surgery. Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently? Are there exercises that were particularly useful? What were the biggest challenges during the rehab? Any thoughts you had would be very helpful (you can also email me directly at disconfirmed at gmail dot com) Thanks!

Apr 23, 2009
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brokne fib dislocated tib
by: phil

i broke my fib and dislocated my tib, i had a plate fitted to my fib but was told it was much worse then they thought when they did the surgery, i had to have a screw through fib and tib as i had torn the medial ligaments in my ankle, the dc said the likelyhood of my playing rugby again was slim, im 25 and have played rugby 25 years, this isnt my first serious injury i also dislocated my knee 5 years ago and had to have my cruciates rebuilt in my knee, it was in the same leg that i broke im just worried that the weakend knee adn the broekn leg will hinder my recovery any tips, suggestions or anyone else that has been in a similar position it would be great to hear from

Dec 10, 2008
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ankle brace
by: Bart - SII

I am not as familiar with the stirrup braces - I have always felt like the strap braces provide a better support because of the mechanics of the straps. The other factor is that they provide compression around the entire joint versus just on the sides - can help with proprioception.

I would probably agree with your doc - if you go through the rehab and get your strength and balance back, a brace likely isn't necessary for the long run - but it may give some support early on when you start skating again.

Bart

Dec 09, 2008
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Screws Removed/ Ankle Brace
by: Nick C


Ok, So i had surgery monday morning to remove the syndesmosis screws and I have been up and walking ever since. It feels good to finally be up on my feet and not having to use crutches all the time...So Im finally On my way to rehabbing and getting back to baseball and hockey....

Bart,

I was curious if you were familiar with the AirCast Air-Sport Ankle Brace in comparison with the ASO brace. I asked my doctor and he said a brace wasnt necessary but id rather be safe than sorry....Any information is helpful... Thanks!!!

NICK

Dec 04, 2008
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Brace
by: Nick C


Bart,

Thanks for the information. Do you know anything about the AirCast Air-Sport Ankle Brace?? That is the one I had been looking at. I havent been able to talk to my doctor yet about any of this yet so....Im scheduled for hardware removal on monday sp I planned on asking him then. Thanks!!

Dec 03, 2008
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brace difference
by: Bart - SII

The biggest difference is the heel straps. There are two straps that lock around the ankle and help to support both inversion and eversion motions. Also, compared to a stirrup brace, the ASO provides a bit more circumferential compression, which is thought to improve function of the joint proprioceptors. I know the ASO is also fairly well made and should last for at least a couple full seasons of sports.

Bart

Dec 03, 2008
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Ankle Brace
by: Nick C

Bart,

That brace looks like a very nice one. What is the difference between that type of brace and a stirrup brace? Just curious what the difference is... Thanks!


Dec 02, 2008
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Ankle Brace
by: Bart - SII

My brace of choice is the ASO - Ankle Stabilizing Orthosis. That is what I have always recommended to my patients and would use myself with an ankle injury.

Bart

Nov 30, 2008
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Ankle Braces
by: Nick C

Bart,

I was browsing the web for a brace for my ankle when I get back into sports and rehabing and I came across a site called ankleshop.com. I was looking at the Stirrup braces and was just curious on what type of brace you might recommend for this type of injury. Thanks!!


Nov 21, 2008
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Injury
by: Anonymous

Thats an unfortunate story. Hope you heal well!!

Nov 18, 2008
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Follow Up Appointment....
by: Nick C

Ok, so today I went to the Dr for a follow up appointment on my leg and for what I thought was to set up the surgery for my hardware removal. Well Im in the office with the Dr and he decides to tell me that since basically Im uninsured/self pay that he wont take my screws out of my ankle until I have paid my bill in full. Is this legal? I cant put any weight on my leg let alone get back to work until this procedure is done. This just does not seem ethical at all... This cant be right...

I was originally submitted thru the ER for the surgery so there were no questions asked...Isnt hardware removal part of the original surgery? and to think I thought today was gonna be good news and one step more towards being able to rehab and play sports again....

Oct 24, 2008
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hardware removal
by: Bart - SII

The recovery after the hardware removal should be a piece of cake compared the the first time around. You will have some soreness and likely more swelling, but those things should subside in a few days or weeks.

You are going to continue to have swelling for awhile - just part of the process. Ice after activities, elevation when it is really bad. Anti-inflammatories if your doctor says they are alright - these can all help, but your body is still healing and swelling is part of that process.

You can also try massage, as that can help loosen up the tissues in the area and move the fluid around.

Bart

Oct 24, 2008
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Broken Fibula and Dislocated Tibia
by: Nick C

Bart,

Thankyou for explaining everything so well. It definitely helps to have someone answer some of my questions. Do I have to worry about any setbacks with the hardware removal or is that really not going to affect me any because my leg has already lost alot of mobility and strength? Also, is there anything I can do for the swelling in my ankle? Should I be iceing my ankle or anything like that? Thanks!!!

Nick C

Oct 23, 2008
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syndesmosis screws
by: Bart - SII

Syndesmosis screws, or screws that go through both the fibula and tibia will restrict your motion - usually though it is more of a dorsiflexion restriction. The circles are going to take some time to get back - partially because of the break, partially because of the muscle strength. Just do what you can and keep it moving without pain. Your motion will get much better once you can walk and start rehab.

2-3 months is likely a good estimate of how long it will take to get back to sports - thats after you start weight bearing and rehab. Pro athletes are not always a good comparison, simply because they have facilities beyond compare, and they often go back sooner than it is safe. But it is a good goal to keep to get back as fast as it is safe.

Bart

Oct 23, 2008
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Broken Fibula and Dislocated Tibia
by: Nick C

Bart,

As far as certain range of motoion excercises go, would two screws going completely across my lower ankle inhibit me from performing certain things? I cant seem to make very big circles at all with my ankle. I have no issues at all pointing my toes or pulling them back. Im due back to the surgeon in a few weeks to have the screws removed and then i plan on going to a rehab center from there. How long can I expect to be out of any sports activities from this? Any time I've seen a pro athlete with a similar injury they are back in a couple months, injury reports say 4-6 weeks....Im really eager to get back to playing, I feel like a part of me is missing without being able to play! Thanks

Nick C

Oct 23, 2008
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range of motion
by: Bart - SII

Range of motion is going to be your biggest challenge. Your ankle is going to end up being way more of a problem than the fracture site - simply because of the disruption of the ligaments, the time in the cast, and the fact that the ankle joint likes to get locked up and cause problems.

Working on simple exercises like pointing your toes, pulling them toward you, making circles, writing the alphabet will all help. As you get a little further out, you need to make sure you get into rehab with a clinician who can mobilize your ankle and foot - that is likely going to be the key to regaining your motion. I am a big believer in doing this early - within a few weeks after surgery. If done correctly, joint mobilizations will not harm the healing tissues and will help to limit your motion loss.

I would plan on several months for your recovery to full unrestricted activity. Running will take some time to get back to, as will building up your strength.

There are some examples of ankle exercises on the site under the rehab section - Ankle Sprain Solutions also has a lot of good motion and strengthening exercises for the ankle as well.

Bart

Oct 21, 2008
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Broken Fibula and Dislocated Tibia
by: Jenny

In my experience, the most important exercise you should do is try to achieve dorsiflexion in your ankle. I would recommend go see a good sport physiotherapist, take your dad/friend/sibling with you, so they can learn techniques on how to manipulate your ankle, then do it at home. When you can start to bear weight on your ankle, then put your broken foot flat on the ground, and try to move your knee forward and backwards, this helps to mobilise your ankle joint. Its important that you do your exercises in the right way and not over or under-do them, so its worthwhile to pay some money to get advice from a good physiotherapist. Good luck.

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