Severe compound fracture of the ankle

by Jenny
(Hong Kong)

my joint is sitting not quite in place

my joint is sitting not quite in place

Feb 2008 - fell off whilst bouldering (rock climbing ropeless), fibula was protruding out of my skin, complete dislocation of the ankle joint, fragment of medial malleolus on the grass somewhere, cracked talus. Emergency surgery on the day, plate, screws, the whole nine yards, free heli lift, good times.

7 days later, second surgery, to put in a syndesmotic screw to close the gap between my fibula and tibia, I was told all was jolly.

April 2008 - have been doing intense physiotherapy involving manual manipulation of the joint to achieve dorsiflexion since February, but ankle swelled up like pig's foot, got increasingly stiff, and pain around the fibula because a screw was coming lose. Sought 3rd opinion from yet another surgeon. Surgeon was shocked to see my ankle joint was half out, it was not put back in properly initially.

Had a 3rd surgery, where the surgeon tried to shift the joint back without success, it was rigid. I then sent my x-rays to many surgeons around the place seeking opinions.

July 2008 - still limping on one crutch, still painful, no improvement on range of motion, decided my best chance was probably a major open ankle surgery to fix the half out joint and other problems.

August 2008 - found an awesome surgeon overseas, went ahead with a total reconstruction lasting just under 6 hours, involving recreation of all the fractures, aligning the bones properly this time, putting back the ankle joint, digging out scar tissue, reattaching the anterior tibiofibular ligament that was never re-attached, repairing a fracture that was mis-matched, basically, fixing the poor job the first surgeon did during emergency surgery. An external frame was fixed to my leg for 4 weeks, it was heavy and painful, such as life.



October 2008 - still limping with pain, still doing physio daily, frankly pretty sick of it all, and miss climbing terribly.

I have been told due to the irreparable cartilage damage to my ankle, and the delay in getting it fixed, I am unlikely to get back 100% range of motion, and is a perfect candidate for osteoarthitis much earlier than usual. I remain optimistic and am persevering with aggressive physio. I keep thinking if the emergency surgery was done competently I would not be crippled like I am now, but who knows?

I still want to be a medical miracle, for now I'll be glad if I can walk without looking like a fool and preferably without pain. I have to maintain hope otherwise I'd go bananas.

My advice - it is worth your money and time to always get a second and third opinion if you're getting something fixed, don't wait around till it gets too painful, the time lost is yours alone.

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Oct 16, 2012
open compound fracture of left ankle NEW
by: Peggy

A year ago I fell from a bike, my foot got caught in the spokes and I ended up with a compound open fracture of the ankle. My grandson thought fast and held my foot off the dirt road until the ambulance came. After a three hour surgery I was in the hospital for 5 days.Because of my grandson I did not get an infection. They kept trying to cast the foot but swelling was so bad my toes turned black and the cast taken off and a splint put on.This happened twice. I was in bed for 2 1/2 months with ice and foot elevated.At four month after the accident I was put in a boot. Thank god. At 6 months I started therphy without the boot.After 2 months of theraphy I could walk with a cane but still in alot of pain. I was then transfered to the ankle specialist and he started to give me steriod shots in the ankle. They did help for three months. I just had my second round of shots and this time does not help as much. I just saw the Doctor and he says I have three options the shots, a brace or a fusion.I do not want to do the fusion. It would be hard to walk.Does anyone have any comments, on how to handle the pain.

Sep 09, 2012
open fracture NEW
by: deb

i had a freak accident on 26th june,my foot twisted underneath me and i fell to the floor,as i lifted my head i saw my bone stickin out omg,for some strange reason tho i was in no pain dont no if it was shock but any wy i was taken to hospital and ad my foot washed out and was put on a drip with antibiotics,this all happend in lanzarote while my husband and i were on holiday,i spent 4 dys in the hosp,very traumatic lovely people but they didnt speak english n i couldnt speak spanish,all i did was cry,not with pain but feeling sorry for myself n scared.flew home to england on r origonal flight and didnt have surgery until 2 wks later due to swelling,diagnosis open tib frac n dislocated fib fracture,so i now have plates n screws in.sooo about 5wks nwb in a lovely pink cast and im now fwb 3wks out of 6 in a air cast boot,hope fully my nightmare is coming to an end.a very very traumatic time it has been,normally im a strong person but this as had me cryin virtually every dy until i got my aircast which is a god send now im mobile and not dependent on others,the swelling is still pretty bad but ive been told it can b like that for ages after,i keep it elevated if i no im not goin to b doin anything for a while.other than that i now feel ok,my advice to anyone is keep it elevated alot especially in the early days,ask people for their help,take bone supplements,and dont weight bear until your doc tells you to.i feel for you all good luck

Sep 09, 2012
open fracture NEW
by: deb

i had a freak accident on 26th june,my foot twisted underneath me and i fell to the floor,as i lifted my head i saw my bone stickin out omg,for some strange reason tho i was in no pain dont no if it was shock but any wy i was taken to hospital and ad my foot washed out and was put on a drip with antibiotics,this all happend in lanzarote while my husband and i were on holiday,i spent 4 dys in the hosp,very traumatic lovely people but they didnt speak english n i couldnt speak spanish,all i did was cry,not with pain but feeling sorry for myself n scared.flew home to england on r origonal flight and didnt have surgery until 2 wks later due to swelling,diagnosis open tib frac n dislocated fib fracture,so i now have plates n screws in.sooo about 5wks nwb in a lovely pink cast and im now fwb 3wks out of 6 in a air cast boot,hope fully my nightmare is coming to an end.a very very traumatic time it has been,normally im a strong person but this as had me cryin virtually every dy until i got my aircast which is a god send now im mobile and not dependent on others,the swelling is still pretty bad but ive been told it can b like that for ages after,i keep it elevated if i no im not goin to b doin anything for a while.other than that i now feel ok,my advice to anyone is keep it elevated alot especially in the early days,ask people for their help,take bone supplements,and dont weight bear until your doc tells you to.i feel for you all good luck

Aug 24, 2012
Fractured Ankle Bouldering, HK Resident NEW
by: Terry

Jenny,

Are you still in HK? I severly fractured and dislocated my ankle this summer in the US at an indoor bouldering gym. Had just been into the sport for a few months and really liked training at Da Verm. I was supposed to visit Capetown, SA on my way back to HK. Instead I had my stay in the US extended by a few weeks as I underwent surgery and recovery. Still on crutches and zero weight bearing, but have to make the trip back to HK as I am a teacher and I need to be there for the start of the school year. I'm anxious as hell about making the trip back and limping around Hong Kong, but I don't have a choice. Completely frustrated to be sidelined from any sports, my emotional state goes back and forth between the kind of optimism you have embraced and self-pity.
The injury occured as I dropped from the top of a problem (4m up, a bit high) and my left leg went straight down into the seam between two crash pads. Freakishly bad luck. Plate with seven small screws on my fibula and three big screws in my tibia. No talus damage as far as I know. I'm looking for an ortho to follow up once I'm back in HK- any recommendations? Feel free to contact me at terryshubert@hotmail.com Good luck with your recovery- you're not alone.

Jul 17, 2012
Ankle pain NEW
by: Michelle

Hello,

I survived a head-on collision. I'm grateful that my family and I are here today. I ended up with a compound tib/fib fracture along with a midfoot injury. I've had four surgeries, plates, screws and rods placed in my foot, leg and ankle, casts and a boot. Was told I may end up with a permanent limp. This was 5 months ago. Today, I am making attempts at putting weight on the ankle but each step I take hurts so yes, I limp. I was hoping to read that in time it gets better. A little bummed to read that even with time, many are still suffering.

I was an avid walker and dancer. It would be nice to do that again some day. Wishing for better outcomes and recoveries for all dealing with ankle injuries over the course of time.

Jun 24, 2012
Mine still hurts NEW
by: Abel Mendoza

I broke my right ankle 7/9/09 and now the proud owner of 9 screws and 1 plate. Was swollen for a year and a half but finally back. I am 39 now and I still have pain and the hardware. Not 100% and going down stairs still requires some concentration and a hand rail. Not able to run and dont have full range of motion but after seeing 6 inches of my actual bone I am glad I can still walk. Quit taking pain meds and I try to strecth it out everyday. Unfortunately I now have severe arthritis but at least I can tell you it is going to rain. Good Luck !

Feb 03, 2011
Scared about mine
by: Marion

Iam 33 years old and just back in July of 2010 I had a house fire and myself,my partner and both of my teenage daughters had to jump from a 3rd story window in our home..everyone made it out fine but I had the same thing done to my left ankle..my foot was literally hanging by a piece of skin and the fact that they saved it is a miracle in itself..my right femur was broken in two places..in my ankle there are 4 screws..I asked why no plates my doctor told me there was nothing left to join the plate to..it has been just about 7 months and I wonder if I will ever walk normal again..my partner as well has bad feet to..my girls made it out just fine thank God..I walk with a severe limp and cannot go up and down the stairs right..I pray that everything will work out the way it is suppose to..the doctor has told me though that even though the ligaments are torn and all that crazy stuff there is blood flow in my bones that he did not think would ever happen so I guess that should keep me hopefull..Well Good Luck everyone!!!

Feb 03, 2011
Scared about mine
by: Marion

Iam 33 years old and just back in July of 2010 I had a house fire and myself,my partner and both of my teenage daughters had to jump from a 3rd story window in our home..everyone made it out fine but I had the same thing done to my left ankle..my foot was literally hanging by a piece of skin and the fact that they saved it is a miracle in itself..my right femur was broken in two places..in my ankle there are 4 screws..I asked why no plates my doctor told me there was nothing left to join the plate to..it has been just about 7 months and I wonder if I will ever walk normal again..my partner as well has bad feet to..my girls made it out just fine thank God..I walk with a severe limp and cannot go up and down the stairs right..I pray that everything will work out the way it is suppose to..the doctor has told me though that even though the ligaments are torn and all that crazy stuff there is blood flow in my bones that he did not think would ever happen so I guess that should keep me hopefull..Well Good Luck everyone!!!

Jan 01, 2011
Difficult Injury
by: Shelly

Hi Jenny,

I first read about your injury on another post (Shaun). When I look at your xray, it too, looks like my foot! I never bothered to post my story, somehow mine seems so insignificant compared to others even though the photos are traumatic.

My right ankle while mounting a horse in September 2009. Same kinda stuff, tibia out and in the dirt, fibula in pieces, screws and plates......


I am reading your post for the first time and see you were approaching ankle fusion. Have you done this yet?

I had severe complications after removing the syndesmosis screw 2 months after the break and have suffered total joint loss as well as ending up with a hole in the end of the tibia (about the size of a golf ball the Dr tells me). It took me a while and much traveling before I found a Dr whom I trusted to operate on my foot (was given the run around for months). Anyway I had the foot operated on again in November 2010 and am still in the external fixator while what was left of healthy bone fuses and waiting for the hole to fill with regrowth (hopefully).

In the last week or so, I am starting to feel the ankle being extremely stiff and am assuming the bones are joining. I thought I had an idea of how it would feel being fused after having limited mobility with it for over a year, but realize I there is little that could prepare me for what's to come.

It is amazing the damage that can happen with the simplest of injuries. After reading stories like yours, I don't feel so alone! It seems everything that could go wrong with my foot did, and while I am being optimistic about my recent surgery and the outcome, I still have some reservations and am preparing myself for a spoke in the wheel!

I would love to hear how you are doing. I can't imagine having as many surgeries as you have done. I was so terrified about anyone going into my ankle after the initial break.

Would love to hear from you and whether you've had the ankle fusion and how you have been doing since. If you would, maybe we can communicate on email, mine is shellyweston@gmail.com It would be nice to correspond with someone who has had a similar experience.

Take care and all the best for the New Year.

Shelly

Sep 03, 2009
still pushing on
by: Jenny

Its been 19 months now, I just had my 7th surgery. I'm getting a tiny bit more dorsiflexion and hope will get enough range of movement so my knee is not suffering, but it will never be a good enough ankle to run, jump or hop on. I have absolutely no cartilage left in the joint at all, I'm told it won't be long now before I need an ankle fusion, since cartilage implant is current not available for the ankle. It is demoralising to think I'll have to struggle for the rest of my life because of one momentarily lapse of concentration.

Jen

Jul 27, 2009
A MAN'S FOOT IS A MAN LIFE (nothing is over)
by: alvin

god knows exectly why he pick us i feel your pain my x ray and yours is the same and pain 2. i was in the army and once thaught i would be a bodybuilder 1 day but that bream is all gone, i use to run 2 miles in less than 11 minuits now i cant eving walk a mile without pain, i still push myself to run by taking part is different sporting event but the pain and swelling is still there.
keep pushing and dont gave up you can still be the spider man you once was just like how i am thinking i can still be the beast i was once called.

May 13, 2009
reference last post
by: Anonymous

Dillon doesn't have any plates. We are in North Carolina seeing a foot and ankle specialist at Baptist Hospital's orthopedi unit. So far the bones are staying put and they have him in a strap on black boot. or medi boot. He is able to but some weight on it now. I'm not sure but they have given him increments of weight to put on it.

May 12, 2009
had same problem
by: Anonymous

i was in a car accident 3 1/2 yrs ago. my right anlke was dislocated 1 1/2 in. to the inside of joint and my part of fibula was sticking out. had emergancy surgery. the surgeon put a plate and 9 screws in. damaged all cartilage. suffered unbelievably every timee i took a step for 15 months. i heard that at CEDAR SINIA,LA was top notch for ankles. went there saw the head of department he gave me my options and went with a brace he recommended. changed my life. i'm 28yrs old. the accident was when i was 24yrs old.

Mar 14, 2009
My son's situation
by: Tommy

My son, 15 came down during a gym class basketball game and blew out the outside of his ankle joint. The big difference with him is all the flesh and ligaments are shredded but there are no broken bones. We are cutting the cast off weekly at this point to insure there are no infection issues and recasting and X-raying to insure it is still in the right position. His bones are lining up great and the cartiledge looks great but i'm sure there are some chips to the cartiledge. I'm told we are looking at 6-12 months of healing before we start PT and then evaluate the need for ligament transplant.

Nov 09, 2008
Ditto
by: Manola

Thanks for sharing what happened to you. My X-Ray looks exactly like yours. I had a fall down stairs on 17 Jan 2008 and my injuries were identical (broken fibula, dislocated ankle, torn ligaments, etc., no open wound though). My bones have healed beautifully but I still battle with mobility and pain (white tissue damage takes a lot longer to heal I suppose). At least I was lucky that the surgeon got it right the first time. Now I just need to persevere with physio, painful as it is! Hope you recover 100% and can go climbing once more.

Oct 23, 2008
Severe compound fracture of the ankle
by: Jenny

Thanks Bart! Looking on the bright side has always been my only option, its the thought that one day, no matter how long it takes, I'll be cilmbing again, that gets me out of bed every morning.
I hope that others who have had injuries realise the importance of physiotherapy. Many people don't know much about anatomy and rehabilitation, and its not their fault, some might think physiotherapy is optional, I think its not. Surgery only gets you half way there. If more people actually went to consult with experts like you at an early stage, the world might have less cripples.

Oct 22, 2008
thanks
by: Bart - SII

Thank you for sharing your story - it is a rough one to read through, but your attitude and positive outlook on the whole rotten situation is something that stands out.

Life gives you lemons sometimes, and all you can do is to make lemonade. You are a perfect example of how to see the bright side of any situation, and that alone is going to take you far.

Thanks again for sharing your story. I know that many people will read it and realize that there is always hope.

Best wishes, and keep us posted on how you progress.

Bart

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