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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    3

    Broken Fibula, recovery

    Hello, I'm new here, but from reading around it seems like there's a wealth of knowledge and experience floating around on the forum so I figured I'd ask...

    Back in November broke my fibula clean through just above the ankle. Lucky enough to be non-displacement and not need surgery. Six weeks in a fiberglass cast, and now 8 weeks with an AirCast brace. Two weeks of that now and I still have a major limp and lots of swelling.

    Wondering from others that have seen/experienced this or a similar injury, how long before you were back out on the mountain? Also just wondering what to expect, how it will feel on the recovering leg... Any tips to help it along or prep it for skiing?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    mplf
    Posts
    565
    6 weeks in a cast plus 8 more seems like a pretty stiff sentance to me. Usually 6-8 weeks is total recovery time for a fracture/break no? What does your doc say about it? or did I miss that>

    I busted my fibula in Spain Jan. 6th last year. Had surgery in the states 7 days later and was in a cast 6 weeks. Once I regained some ROM and strength with rehabbing and was able to fit it into my ski boot I was back skiing with pain moderating medications...I think it was mid March? I was prett insistant with my doc though about getting back out there...

    Anyway I would say do your rotation/inversion/eversion exercises like 20 times a day, towel stretches, heel lifts if you can do them without pain, single leg balance exercises etc... and you'll be back at it soon enough. I used to climb all stairs one at a time with the bad foot too (up and down) just to get a head start...

    See a boot fitter about creating some room for swelling and you'll be a lot happier too. Here's a photo of my hardware (still in there today).

    edit:for ref. my break was complete...right through where you can see the vertical lag screw oin the photo
    Last edited by rehabit; 01-07-2009 at 11:34 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    mplf
    Posts
    565
    of course R.I.C.E before and after activity will help with the swelling as well...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Liberty Park
    Posts
    17
    I broke my fibula last April. Like this:



    Total recovery took 3ish months.

    Each situation is tricky, although I didn't need surgery (like you), my break was closer to the middle of the bone. What that means is that the bone was more stable, despite being completely broken. The Doc told me that if the fibula is broken near the ends, it is more likely to be moved around when you move your ankle. This means a need for greater stability of the joints near the break, to prevent the bone parts from moving around.

    I too, was expecting recovery within 8-10 weeks, but my doctor said this is normal with pro athletes and the like who are paying $$$$$$ for the fastest recovery methods possible. Most people take a little longer.

    Do everything you can to stay active! Keep your blood moving around, don't sit around with your foot below body level all day. Do situps, pushups, pullups, etc. Do whatever you can. Don't smoke cigarettes, it slows bone healing and sometimes prevents bone healing.

    The thing with bone breaks, is that they actually can take a year plus to heal, it's just that once it gets to about 80%, you can go back to doing everything. My leg still hurts sometimes, 9 months later. I'll just take it easy on it if I need to. It's an organic process, really, we're not machines. Rest, eat, sleep, and do stuff like have Clint Eastwood marathons (my recommendation: watch A Fistfull of Dollars, A Few Dollars More, and The Good The Bad and the Ugly all in a row, it's good times).

    Also, when you're back on both feet, see a boot fitter. I'm doing it now and it's making a huge difference (I broke the fibula near the top of the boot, getting stuck in the backseat was indeed my problem). Best of luck! I have a medium sized aircast if you want it for later down the road...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    1

    Mine is only 6 weeks...

    Hi,
    Broke my fibula above the ankle on 12/29, it was non-displaced but the doctor thought there was a free floating piece. I was in a fiberglass cast for 3 weeks. I then got a walking cast, which the doctor said I would be out of in three more weeks. I actually stopped wearing it a few days ago, and am walking pretty well without it.

    Since most of the problems I currently have are associated with loss of range of motion from being in the casts, it seemed to me as though getting rid of them was a good idea. I'm headed back to the doctor this Thursday for the final xrays, and then I think I'm done...

    Seems to me like you were in a cast WAY too long. After three weeks my foot could barely move...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    1
    i broke my fibula on 2/28 of this year playing football. It was a complete break about an inch above the ankle and was imediately put in an air boot for no surgery was required. Its been 5 weeks today and i no longer use the air boot and can walk fine with no pain. My doctor this thursday is putting me in an ankle brace and i will be able to return to normal activity. The secret is alot of praying

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Originally Maine
    Posts
    43
    Are you limbing from pain or afraid to walk on it?

    The swelling can be from a lack of muscle contraction to squeeze the lymphatic system or residual inflammation. It might help to elevate the legs above your heart for 20 minutes 3 times a day, see if the swelling decrease.

    Follow up with your orthopedic surgeon. Any recommendation for rehab?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    2,307
    Yesterday, I had my plaster cast removed after 4 weeks. The injury happened 7 weeks ago, I was walking on it fine before the cast went on, but pressure pain wasn't going away, so I went in to doctor, and to my suprise, the bone had a fracture in it. Non-displaced fractured fibula 6inches above ankel, nothing crazy big. I am in a air cast, and he says two more weeks, and I'm in the clear. 6 weeks total immobilization. He said between now and 2 weeks from now, skiing is a personal choice that he would discourage, but would not prohibit. I am going for it tommorow. I am too bored. Pain is the indicator.

    7 weeks total time from injury, but right now only 4 weeks immobilized. Non-displaced FRACTURES (without a massive straight through break) are from what I gather, not a crazy serious injuries, the fibula only bears 15% of weight in most people.

    I haven't done any rehab, but I have been on the stationary bike with the cast on, so muscles are not totally shit.

    I just can't sit around anymore, i'll eat the pain, and if I break it again, it will be worth it for the two days of powder this weekend.

    I figure if I was playing serious hockey like I use to, and had a serious game at this point, all my coaches and parents and me would be doing everything they could to make sure I played at this point. So now skiing=hockey.
    Do I detect a lot of anger flowing around this place? Kind of like a pubescent volatility, some angst, a lot of I'm-sixteen-and-angry-at-my-father syndrome?

    fuck that noise.

    gmen.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    1

    Unhappy broken fibula. :p

    On, september 25th i was playing football for my high school team. and in thee final seconds in thee game, i was blocking for my quarterback and he got tackled from behind and they fell inton my left legg. I broke my fibula, and shatterd my ankle, and also tored all thee ligaments and tendants in my ankle. It's on been 4 days since it has happend, but it hurts like hell!. lol. i have surgery tomorrow to get a plate and 4 screws in my fibula, and a screw in my ankle. my doctor said in about 8-10 weeks he'll remove thee screw in my ankle. I'm so parranoid about makeing shure im ready for next season, since this is my junior yr. I'm not aloud to bear any weight on it for 3 months and will b in a cast. following that i have a month for phyiscal therapy... i need to know how likey will it be that i will be ready by june of 2010 ( 9 months away) for football. if i could get any responces from anyone that has had thee same ordiel i would really appriate it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    209
    I'm no doc, but from my own experience and research surrounding an ankle break (lateral malleolus, but no syndesmosis screw), you'll probably be fine in nine months. Once they put the hardware in, the best you can do is go with the program - the bone will heal as fast as it can. Eat nutritious food, stay as active as you can in mind and body, and minimize traumatic falls. The first week or two after surgery will suck, but things get better after that. Rehab like a pro athlete once you're cleared to do so, but don't overdo it. Once you're partially weight bearing, see if they'll let you start being active in a swimming pool. Your strength will come back fast. Five weeks after full-weight-bearing clearance, I'm now backpacking and scrambling almost as well as before the break and will probably click back into skis this coming weekend.

    Injuries like these seem to be a great time to focus on other things that make life fantastic. You'll be on crutches, but don't let that stop you. Study hard and rock your homework assignments. You'll be glad you did hundreds of times over.

    Good luck!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    31

    I want to join the club ... reluctantly

    Another unhappy member of the club here. Broke my Tib and Fib about 11 weeks ago on the NZ slopes. Tib in two places at top of boot and Fib in one place near top of bone. No fun.





    Had the IM nail put in about 5 days post accident. Am now up and walking, have been for the past 3 weeks. So I had 6 weeks of non-weight bearing and 1 week walking with the aid of a crutch. I only had a cast on for 2 weeks, because of the nail, which was great; but leg looked like sh*t. Have been riding the stationary exercise bike and also walking laps and doing stretches/exercises in waist deep water. I find the water really good as I am able to walk more fluently. Can even do some squats in the water which feels good.

    Would love to hear how the rehab is going (or has gone) for others. Ideas and tips are welcome.

    Am also interested to hear any tips on boots post accident. Have heard that custom foam is the way to go after a break like this. Any thoughts???

    Hope all are healing well ... cheers

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    2,307
    Wondering.... I'm now a full 10 months from original break date. I had 4 weeks in a hard cast and 2 weeks in an air cast, then did not ski the rest of the season. Had a full summer of running and biking. Been skiing about 23 days this season so far, most of the days have had a tiny little nagging pain near the break site (where the callus formed), last day pain has gone up, starting to feel it near the break site even when not skiing, but while skiiing the pain is no where near as bad as it was from the original break. I can painlessly step into the binding and ski fairly hard, but the pain is still nagging.... is this normal? Isn't the new bone supposed to be stronger, is it possible there is another small crack/fracture/break?

    thanks guys
    Do I detect a lot of anger flowing around this place? Kind of like a pubescent volatility, some angst, a lot of I'm-sixteen-and-angry-at-my-father syndrome?

    fuck that noise.

    gmen.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    4,484
    Every break is different -- no real timeline except the one your ortho gave you.
    Me: Spiral type breaks at boot top in tib and two breaks in fib -- above ankle and below knee. So my situation is not like yours. One thing I can say is that if your break in the fib is on the bottom they can do surgery and that will heal quicker. If you have a break towards the top of the fib they can't do surgery or else they may hit a nerve and you'll have foot drop for the rest of your life.

    Rodded my tib so couldn't put weight on it for ~3 months. Idiot ortho tried to screw together bottom break in fib (instead of plate) and just made things worse. The top break on my fib didn't show signs of healing for 6 months. I say idiot ortho cause I got the rooky who had to come in on new years. The ortho in the emergency room (older and much more well know and experienced) said that he would definately plate the bottom fib break which would have pulled the top fib break much closer to it's normal position. They were almost going to do more surgery around 6 months.

    Basically broke the bones the day before new years and was ready to ski when the season started -- not any sooner.

    My xrays here: http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/s...a+fibula+break
    Last edited by Crass3000; 12-10-2009 at 09:20 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    7,170
    I'm about 10 weeks post op from a fibula spiral fracture. Have a plate and some pins holding it together. Been doing rehab for a couple of weeks now and it feels really good, strong. Actually went skiing today, but only a couple of runs. Don't want to over do it. Trying to dial in the punch on my boots. Dr. says to get back at it as pain allows. Listen to your body, pain means slow it down.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    46
    rehabit and others - A year out, are you happy you opted for a plate in your fibula?

    I broke mine on Saturday and it's partially displaced. Two ortho's have said I'm borderline for needing a plate. I'm leaning towards it to maximize my chances of getting perfect alignment and prevent ankle pain down the line. However, I wonder if you folks are feeling interference with the tendons/ligaments in that area.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    209
    Quote Originally Posted by biggsie View Post
    rehabit and others - A year out, are you happy you opted for a plate in your fibula?

    I broke mine on Saturday and it's partially displaced. Two ortho's have said I'm borderline for needing a plate. I'm leaning towards it to maximize my chances of getting perfect alignment and prevent ankle pain down the line. However, I wonder if you folks are feeling interference with the tendons/ligaments in that area.
    Disclaimers: I'm only 6 months out, and I'm not a doc, but I was happy to have gotten mine. I'll never know if the non-surgical option would have worked out well. My orthos were absolutely convinced that a plate was a good idea for my particular break (spiral fib, Weber B -- plates are SOP). It definitely gave me confidence on the occasions that I slipped and weighted the foot and getting back out on the foot after things had healed. Pain's definitely been decreasing with time, and I'm no longer absolutely convinced that I'll ask to have the plate taken out. My only concern about tendon interactions is at the top (non-distal) part of the plate, but those too are resolving with time.

    Time to weightbearing is usually faster with a plate and alignment is supposed to be better, but surgery comes with lots of possible complications, as well as the non-trivial possibility that you'll want to have the plate out. Don't knock the possibility of a third opinion if you're not sure. Look at ortho textbooks on Google Books - there are a number that have individual sections on each sub-type of fracture.

    Good luck making your decision, especially if your brain is fuzzy from painkillers! Once it's been set or plated, it gets better from there on!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    46
    Super helpful background info. I got a couple of second opinions and the consensus was that it's displaced enough to require a plate. I also decided to go with a foot/ankle specialist that works on the Golden State Warriors, SF Ballet, etc.

    Two other complications were uncovered:
    - I completely torn the ligament between by tibia and fibula so he'll be putting in a screw across my ankle for the next ~12 weeks to allow that to heal. He'll consider using a TightRope if the tear is less than expected but thinks that someone my size (6 3, 200) needs a screw.
    - The MRI found bone/ligament fragments in the joint so I need an authroscopy to clean that out.

    I'm heading into surgery tomorrow to get everything taken care of and can't wait to get another couple of weeks down the line.

    Sounds like winter is about to start in Tahoe in earnest. Someone get some turns for me.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    209
    Bummer. They thought I needed a syndesmosis screw too, but decided I didn't during the procedure - hope the same's true for you. Either way, you'll probably still get to ski corn, if not late season pow, this year.

    Good luck! Everything gets better after the first two weeks or so.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Boulder
    Posts
    2
    I've been posting on TelemarkTips for several years, but it took a broken fib and time on my hands before I came over here. Look who I find: biggsie, ISL - hi guys!

    Looks like some good advice and tips here, too. I sustained a left lateral malleolus fracture with displacement the day after Christmas. Had surgery to install screws and plate and am now in a cast for 3 more weeks. Trying to exercise as much as mobility allows, but this is really getting old. Gonna have to break out some DVD's soon.

    Wishing everyone quick recoveries.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    1
    Hello. I'm new and just signed up today. My mom broke her fibula on Tuesday. She has been told that she will not be able to put any weight on it for 6 weeks after surgery which is scheduled for Monday. They will not be putting on a cast but a splint with external hardware. Anyone have a picture of that.

    Thanks.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    46
    Michelle'sMom -

    I've never heard of external hardware for a fibula break. Typically it's internal and looks something like this:
    [ame="http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php?t=146562"]Broken Fibula, recovery - Teton Gravity Research Forums[/ame]

    If it's a simple break, weight bearing at 6 weeks sounds about right.

    As for me, I got the bonus plan:
    - Fibula
    - Syndesmosis injury (tear of the tissue btwn fibula and tibia)
    - Microfracture procedure to repair torn cartilage.

    I gotta say, I'm 10 months in and it's been a long road. Way worse than my broken hip last year. Just gotta be aggressive with the PT, strengthening and stretching as soon as you're able.

    Looking forward to the upcoming season. Got some turns on Shasta on July 4th but last season was otherwise a writeoff.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    SLUT
    Posts
    1,392
    broke my fib and tib 10 years ago... tib was a nasty spiral fracture and the fib was clean through. I was 14 and thought snowblades were sweet lol

    Spent 12 weeks in a cast from my toes to my nuts, 4 weeks below the knee, and 4 weeks in an air boot. I think it took me like 4-6 weeks to get full motion out my swollen ankle...

    Just broke 3 metacarpals in my right hand at Snowbird Saturday... first run of the season... surgery Tuesday... hoping to get back out there...


    Good luck healing...

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    1

    Talking shower

    I was scheming through the net on info about my break and this was the first forum that seemed detailed and helpful. New to the site and forums so pardon me if I do it wrong.

    I broke my fibula Friday, stepped down wrong and snapped it. Horrible pain. Can't shake the sound it made or that feeling. I see the specialist Wed but the er said it was a "clean/good break" that the bones are setting nice.

    I have a question. It might seem silly or even obvious but would any of you have any tips on bathing? Besides covering my splint. I've never injured anything below the waste and I'm trying to figure out how to take a shower carefully being that I'm not allowed to put even a lb on my ankle. So if anyone can give me advice to safely shower I'd greatly appreciate it.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    1
    You brought this back from the dead, but I have been using these products from Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...tongravit0a-20

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...tongravit0a-20

    Which for $40 has made my life easy.
    Last edited by tgrweb; 03-25-2013 at 03:06 PM.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    46
    Those bags look sweet for bathing.

    Update from me for all of you who have gone through this mess (or are going through it):
    Got all of my hardware out 8 days ago:
    - Plate and screws from fibula fracture
    - Pins from hip fracture (femoral head)

    I was on crutches for all of 6 days. Now fully weight bearing and while sore, I think my strength will come back in no time. Doc says my bones are at 90% due to the holes left from the screws. Expects them to fill in within 2-3 months though I could ski as early as Thanksgiving.

    The plate on my fibula wasn't too compatible with my ski boots which is the reason for the removal. Looking forward to no more cankles!

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