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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    3

    Tibial Plateau Fracture Recovery

    I had surgery on my broken tibial plateau in early March (I'm 24 years old) while bike riding. The displaced fracture required a plate and 5 screws. I also had a meniscus tear.

    It's been just over 2 months since surgery. I've been doing lots of PT for the past 8 weeks and just recently got the clear from the surgeon to start bearing weight! My extension is good (nearly 100%) but I'm still not able to flex (bend) my leg all the way. I'm currently able to walk with a limp a bit around my apartment (about 25% of the day) without much pain, however pain begins to build up around the knee after a day of walking around a bit. I'll be able to increase my weight-bearing time week-by-week, reaching 100% in about 3 weeks. I just wanted to get some input on how much more recovery time I should expect to face. I've done lots of research and have gotten lots of different stories on recovery. Will I not be able to run for a whole year? Any thoughts would help. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    Teton County
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    338
    I broke mine last June. From what I've learned in the last 11 months is that the answer to your questions are all "it depends". It seems like a particularly nasty part of the leg to break. It seems like the outcome depends on how badly you broke it to start with, how well your surgeon put it back together, and how well you follow a good rehab routine. Results can go from full recovery all the way to knee replacement.

    I feel like I'm doing alright with mine after almost a year, but I wouldn't even consider running and won't for probably another year. I skied for the first time this year just a few weeks ago and didn't feel real confident or strong. It still hurts and I feel it all the time, but it is still getting better. I can do things without pain today that I wouldn't even be able to do just a few months ago. For me, the recovery has been a slow, steady experience.

    Your knee is something that you'll use for the rest of your life, so don't do something stupid right now that will mess it up forever. Take it easy and let it recover.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Down the valley a bit further on the good side of the 49th
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    Quote Originally Posted by treemaker View Post
    I had surgery on my broken tibial plateau in early March (I'm 24 years old) while bike riding. The displaced fracture required a plate and 5 screws. I also had a meniscus tear.
    Let Dr Mark know that you found a surgeon that could repair your knee WHILE you rode a bike. Was he on a bike as well or did he drive alongside in a car? He's badass.... so are you.
    It's not so much the model year, it's the high mileage or meterage to keep the youth of Canada happy

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by L7 View Post
    Let Dr Mark know that you found a surgeon that could repair your knee WHILE you rode a bike. Was he on a bike as well or did he drive alongside in a car? He's badass.... so are you.
    Realized the confusion after submitting the thread. Can't edit
    Has anyone had the same injury that can give me some insight on recovery?
    Thanks ahead of time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    under echo, over garage
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    97
    I suffered a tibial plateau fracture plus avulsion about 4 years ago now. Its taken about 2+ years to get back from the atrophy to my left leg. I was on crutches for about 4 months, and kinda wimped out on PT before the swelling came down. The flex should come back to >95%, it took me a while If I had really hit it, i'd like to believe i would have cut out a great deal of recovery time. The residual pain for me, I've discovered, is that my quad stopped firing and let my knee cap float to the outside, where the stronger muscles pulled it, and wreaked havoc on any kind of symmetrical strength between legs and caused all kinds of wierd pains in both legs. What helped was electrostim right above the knee cap and REALLY working the injured leg, all on its own + wearing extra weight on it.

    Foam roll that IT band.

    I don't know how much atrophy you've experienced- but don't quit for a long time, keep it going through the fall/ winter. Its taken a couple seasons to get my ski legs back but that might be all in the mind...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    I-70
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    I'm approaching a year out from my fracture.

    Mine is looking like a failure, it got better for a few months and I had very minimal pain but no strength and it was hardly functional. Now it's getting much more painful as I gain strength and functionality. I was told before the surgery that full soft tissue recovery is 18-24 months and the repair will last from 2-20 years, way too many factors with something like this to predict how yours will do.

    Either way, as far as I can tell you are basically fucked with a tibial plateau.

    Got any cool pics or x-rays?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    3
    Sorry to hear about your lengthy recovery, karpiel. Unforunately, I don't have any gross post-op pics handy.

    It's been about 2.5 months since surgery and I'm walking fully about 50% of the day. Pain around the knee is minimal at first but it does build up by the end of a full day of walking around. I'm also feeing stress around my hamstring area after the day. I'm having a hard time with balance and walking without a slight limp (leaning over to the side of the bad leg). My extension is where I need it to be but I'm still unable to flex all the way. Basically, my right leg is still quite weak but the strength is coming back thanks to physical therapy.

    Finding others who have had this injury over the web has been quite hard. I apologize in advance for using this forum as means to learn more about recovery and comparing my state to other victims of the TP fracture. Any thoughts or comments would be encouraging. Thanks

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    230
    You sound like you're on a good track, treemaker. As long as you keep following up with your surgeon and making sure the xrays look good, then it just takes time to rehab from a major injury like a tibial plateau fx. The bone itself takes 3 months to heal, but that's not the ultimate end point. Your overall condition continues to improve over the course of at least a year as people have described.

    As far as subsequent activity, depending on how bad the fracture was (they range in degree of severity), you may do better w/ non-impact sports like biking or skiing (with a minimal dose of bumps/jumps) as opposed to running. Your surgeon will have a better sense of how to advise you in this regard.
    Originally Posted by jm2e:
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    England
    Posts
    10

    Tibial Plateau Fracture Recovery

    Good to see you are recovering. It still looks like a nasty fracture.

    I am working in physical therapy with a lady who fractured her tibial plateau and she is beginning to walk without an assistive device after a few weeks of seeing her.

    Its a long process to returning to prior level of function...all due to that whole part about being unable to walk for awhile.

  10. #10
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    Apr 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlechMan View Post
    Good to see you are recovering. It still looks like a nasty fracture.

    I am working in physical therapy with a lady who fractured her tibial plateau and she is beginning to walk without an assistive device after a few weeks of seeing her.

    Its a long process to returning to prior level of function...all due to that whole part about being unable to walk for awhile.
    You are lucky if there IS a return to the prior level of function. I guess if you are a typical person that considers walking exercise, then yes, you can return to normal.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Dominican Republic
    Posts
    10

    Glad to find you

    I was glad to find this site. I was getting so depressed reading all the info on my fx. I am a 60 y.o. active retired expat (originally from Colorado and now in the Dominican Republic) who was on vacation in Hilton Head SC and was on a bike and was hit by a car. I had a depressed plateau fx repaired with plate and screws then two weeks of rehab at Univ. of Ga. Now back home here in the DR and continuing with PT. It is really going to be hard to stay "down" for another 1-2 months. My PT here wants to start some Pool excercises. Has anyone done and PT in a pool for this injury?
    Thanks
    Bob K

  12. #12
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    Apr 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob K View Post
    I was glad to find this site. I was getting so depressed reading all the info on my fx. I am a 60 y.o. active retired expat (originally from Colorado and now in the Dominican Republic) who was on vacation in Hilton Head SC and was on a bike and was hit by a car. I had a depressed plateau fx repaired with plate and screws then two weeks of rehab at Univ. of Ga. Now back home here in the DR and continuing with PT. It is really going to be hard to stay "down" for another 1-2 months. My PT here wants to start some Pool excercises. Has anyone done and PT in a pool for this injury?
    Thanks
    Bob K
    Pool therapy is awesome. Nothing felt better ever in my life then getting into a pool and feeling free, makes you feel human again.

    It helps work out a lot of little unexpected issues with walking.

  13. #13
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    May 2010
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    Dominican Republic
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    10
    Karpiel

    Thanks for the imput. I am looking forward to starting working in the pool in about two weeks.

    Bob K

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Tahorado
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    23,991
    Man, you all have/had some tough recoveries. If you search, there's a guy who posted in fair detail on here about his recovery who was still having big problems coming back from his plateau injury. Shit, I'm 14 months out on a menisectomy that's just starting to feel good....the thought of injuring my tibial plateau gives me the shudders.
    We don't make the snow. We just make it more enjoyable.


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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Teton County
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    338
    Bob K, I started in the pool 4 weeks out from surgery. Just being able to move around without crutches was incredible. I was in a straight brace for those 4 weeks after surgery and wasn't allowed to bend my knee until I got into the pool. If you get a chance, post your xrays up in the [ame="http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php?t=168252"]broken bone/xray thread[/ame]. Add it to the collection of other broken plateaus, legs, arms, etc.

    Splat, I think you're thinking of Karpiel who isn't having the best time with his recovery.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    Tahorado
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    No, dude from Mammoth. It's been so long, I forget his name....
    We don't make the snow. We just make it more enjoyable.


    Git Your FKNA On!

    You Like?

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  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Dominican Republic
    Posts
    10

    two more questions

    A couple of questions for those of you who have gone through this:

    1. Is developing fluid around the knee common, and will it resolve with out tapping the knee??
    2. It is now 6 weeks from surgery and still having increasing ankle swelling as the day goes on. Is this normal at this stage of recovery? My ankle is basically normal size in the morining and 3x normal by evening.

    Thanks

    Bob K

  18. #18
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    Apr 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob K View Post
    A couple of questions for those of you who have gone through this:

    1. Is developing fluid around the knee common, and will it resolve with out tapping the knee??
    2. It is now 6 weeks from surgery and still having increasing ankle swelling as the day goes on. Is this normal at this stage of recovery? My ankle is basically normal size in the morining and 3x normal by evening.

    Thanks

    Bob K
    I still had swelling almost 3 months out, It would travel down my leg if I spent time upright and formed bulges anywhere it could, like top of my shoe and between the straps on my brace.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Dominican Republic
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    10
    Thanks that makes me feel a little better. The doc here in the Dominican Republic tried to tap the knee three very painful times with out success. I told him we should just watch it for a while if it does not get worse.

    Bob K

  20. #20
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    Nov 2003
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    high and dry
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    Just did this Tuesday. Finding out about surgery tomorrow.

  21. #21
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    May 2010
    Location
    Dominican Republic
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    10
    Hev,

    Good luck. I am 6 wweks into it with a long way to go.

    Small world we moved from the Conifer/Evergreen area 4 years ago to retire to the islands. Worked ski patrol at Breck many years ago.

    Bob K

  22. #22
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    Nov 2003
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    high and dry
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    Doctor said mine break was one of the worst he's seen. Split in both directions and compressed the bone :-( - surgery will involve some bone graphing from the femur. I am surprised to hear that I will be moving the knee right after surgery. Doc said he wants my knee at 95% within a couple weeks! No weight for 3 months.

    Glad to find this thread. Will keep you guys posted.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Dominican Republic
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    10
    Lawless,
    You were correct. The pool is wonderful and i have been in it every day for the last few days. For the first time I feel as if I am gaining back some control over the situation.
    Driving this past week for the first time also helped wtih the "control" issue.

    Bob K

  24. #24
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    Apr 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by hev View Post
    Doctor said mine break was one of the worst he's seen. Split in both directions and compressed the bone :-( - surgery will involve some bone graphing from the femur. I am surprised to hear that I will be moving the knee right after surgery. Doc said he wants my knee at 95% within a couple weeks! No weight for 3 months.

    Glad to find this thread. Will keep you guys posted.
    That sounds familiar, but worse. Less then 6 hours out of my surgery I was in a CPM.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    2

    Same injury

    I also have a tibial plateau fracture. My surgery was May 3rd. Next week I will finally be able to put weight on my leg. The Dr. said I can start with 40lbs. It's crazy that this injury takes so long to heal. I wonder how long it will take to be active again?? My butt hurts from sitting so much!!

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