Need advice about long term ankle fracture

I have had an ankle fracture l that won’t heal for about 9 mos now. The doctor has tried a bone stimulator with no success and is reluctant to do surgery because it is in a strange place and I can still walk on it (sort of). I used to be VERY active—long hikes, runs, etc. Now I can’t even stand to have my foot in a tennis shoe; I have to wear crocs all the time. Does anyone have any experience with this? Did you eventually recover (how)?I’ve been really down about it. I’m only 30 and I just can’t see spending the rest of my life icing my foot and ankle after simple things like going grocery shopping.

Replies

  • 777Gemma888
    777Gemma888 Posts: 9,580 Member
    edited September 2018
    Did your Dr tell you what the fracture distraction measurements were? A hairline fracture goes through inflammatory to callusing ove, in 4-5 weeks. Has the Dr shown you x-rays of your injury site? You should be able to see if it is healed, and IF you're merely going through the fusion stage, hence the pain or there is inflammation buried deeper within the fracture-line or who knows. Your fracture distraction is likely larger than assumed upon diagnosis, IF IT HAS taken this long to heal.

    Are you wearing a brace or something of that nature to stabilise your ankle whilst healing? Bone healing machines are only as useful as the number of treatments available. Sometimes it's feasible to check it, and not completely rely on the prescribed uses. You're not sharing whether or not you've seen your x-rays to ascertain for yourself if the fracture site had callused over at all.

    When I had broken my ankle, I was prescribed 20 cycles, but the machine given to me had 10 cycles left. Re-upping was difficult -all machines were already taken and full doses were enroute from source, taking 5-6 more weeks of possible waiting, so I bought 20 more cycles through 3 different machines on eBay. I also wore a brace for a year with PT twice a week @home administered by my sister, given by my Dr. Walking was encouraged to "weight load/bear" the injury site. It usually hurts to move it, bear weight on it because it's still sponge-like bone. When it fuses, usually 8-12 months with proper PT, one should be able to run on it and play football by year 2.

    Have you increased your protein intake? Eggs, steak, whole milk, yoghurt?
  • Laura48593
    Laura48593 Posts: 31 Member
    Yes I’ve seen x rays and everything, it actually isn’t visible on there only on catscans because it is in a weird spot. My break is an unusual one. Unfortunately (just like with the tennis shoes issue I previously mentioned) because of that I cannot wear a brace or boot etc. They put pressure on the fracture instead of supporting it. The issue with healing is that my bone is not producing the proteins needed to even start the process, which is why I was prescribed a bone stimulator (basically my break still looks like it originally has gone on except the swelling has gone down). I’m not sure what you mean by cycles, I think you might have a different machine or something. What I have is something that has never been used by anyone, and the individual or the insurance purchases. Yes I’ve been eating right.

    Anyway, I was more asking about other people’s experiences, that was all. I didn’t really mean to be vague but the point wasn’t really to give a bunch of info, just to hear about other people to maybe give me some hope!
  • RunsWithBees
    RunsWithBees Posts: 1,508 Member
    Not a doctor here, just bouncing around some ideas :) The problem with fracturing little joint bones like wrist or ankle is there’s not a lot of blood supply moving through there to clean out the damaged cells and bring nutrients to form new cells to repair the fracture. I understand the use of ice and antiinflammatories but have you tried using therapeutic heat? Heat can help dilate capillaries and enhance blood flow to the joint. I’d also look into warm epsom salt foot soaks since the magnesium can be soothing and help with inflammation as well.
    It might sound unconventional but if shoes cause you pain, have you considered barefooting? I don’t have foot issues but I walk, hike and run barefoot and it feels very natural to me to be outdoors without shoes. Barefooting has the added benefit of using all the foot structures as nature intended versus shoes that limit movement. I imagine if you can get some movement to the joint that would also enhance blood flow and healing. Maybe try a short walk barefoot in the park? Of course you will need to consult with your doctor about any new treatments such as heat or new movements like barefooting just to be on the safe side. Hope it heals soon, good luck to you!
  • gdionelli
    gdionelli Posts: 7 Member
    I haven't had a fracture, but I have had ankle surgery to repair a torn peroneal tendon. The ankle heals very, very slowly. I totally understand your despair. Also, altering your gait for an injury can cause other issues (in my case, sesamoiditis). So you want to heal the original as soon as possible. A second or third opinion might be a good idea. I think there's been some research on stem cells and bone regeneration. Ask your doc about it.
  • aemmons81
    aemmons81 Posts: 9 Member
    Not an ankle fracture, but I had a hip stress fracture that took 11 freaking months to heal, so I totally get the frustration. I used crutches for awhile to really keep off it, but there wasn't much else to do to help it heal. It was incredibly frustrating because they'd said it'd take maybe 2 months to heal. So, there is hope.
  • jo_nz
    jo_nz Posts: 594 Member
    I haven't had that type of fracture, so feel free to ignore this as it may not apply...

    I broke and dislocated my ankle just over 3 years ago, and needed surgery (it was a big mess).
    It went "well" and everything healed I guess on schedule...and it was still slowly improving after 18 months.
    So it is a loooong healing process, unfortunately.

    It still wasn't quite right and earlier this year I had the metal removed which has been mostly a good move - apart from now having nerve pain on the top of my foot! It's like the gift that keeps on giving!

    Are there any taping techniques that might help? My physiotherapist showed me how to tape up my ankle, and I found it quite helpful - I couldn't stand braces or boots because there was a screw sticking out the side of my ankle bone, but taping could go around that and did make a difference.

    If you can't even carry out your normal daily activities like shopping without then having to rest/ice it, I would recommend trying to get more help from your doctor.
    I didn't really want to have another surgery if I could help it, but I eventually decided that I have another 40-ish years of walking around to do, so I wanted to make that as pain-free as possible.
  • VallieeeBabe
    VallieeeBabe Posts: 27 Member
    I had broken my ankle too last year. I had complications of it not healing also. My doctor told me it was a pretty bad break. I got surgery to put plates and screws in. Then waited for it to heal, well the first month of healing it was still bleeding. How I don’t know? The doctor would tell me it looks fine nothing looks bad, X-ray looks good. So he told me to wait let my ankle heal more. So I did and still blood was coming out. Told me the same thing again to wait and let it heal. Then I developed holes? Like blisters I guess but really deep down to the bone that’s how bad one of the holes got. He would do these little treatments on it where he just put a stick in the hole and idk? And also just keep giving me antibiotics. I didn’t get a cast, I got a boot. I was able to walk a little bit i was also going to PT but I was always limping the bone and the holes just didn’t heal. So I ended up going to a wound specialist on my own because my surgeon was no help at all. They tried healing the holes with honey and dressings for about a month and still no progress. So I went back to my surgeon and was like okay it’s been 6 months and I’m not healed. Why! He would just tell me oh it’s because your body rejected the sutures and excuses I had no idea what he was talking about. And so he finally decided to do another surgery and remove the plates and screws I ended up having a bacteria infection in my bone . So then I got on more antibiotics and Met with a different doctor who specializes in that. Forgot what it was called. Then ended up getting pneumonia from the very strong antibiotic they prescribed me. Got hospitalized for almost 3 weeks. Last year was a struggle! lol but my ankle is fine now no more holes. And I’m able to walk with no limp and I’m even running now still gets a little stiff from time to time but I’m sure if I go back to PT all will be well. Anywayyysss lol long story short is: I would get a second opinion from another doctor to see what they say. It never hurts to hear another opinion or 3 or 4 lol. Doctors are humans too. They mess up as well. They can easily misdiagnose. So you have to use your voice and speak up for yourself. It’s your life, your body. I wish I could go back and tell him he’s an idiot and go with a different doctor. But you live and you learn. Can’t do anything about it.
  • Laura48593
    Laura48593 Posts: 31 Member
    Just an update because it’s been a while since I posted this:

    I had surgery 12/14. A joint fusion and bone graft because the fracture STILL wasn’t healing and the doctor said he could already see the beginning stages of arthritis. Post-op healing is going great! Just now able to be weightbearing as of last week and when I go back at the end of March the doc is going to see about getting me out of my boot. Since my initial injury I’ve gained about 35 lbs due to inactivity and depression which led to me eating my feelings (I am a person who needs to be active and I was devastated about sitting still). Thanks for sharing your stories everyone. Just thought I would share my most recent!
  • 777Gemma888
    777Gemma888 Posts: 9,580 Member
    Laura48593 wrote: »
    Just an update because it’s been a while since I posted this:

    I had surgery 12/14. A joint fusion and bone graft because the fracture STILL wasn’t healing and the doctor said he could already see the beginning stages of arthritis. Post-op healing is going great! Just now able to be weightbearing as of last week and when I go back at the end of March the doc is going to see about getting me out of my boot. Since my initial injury I’ve gained about 35 lbs due to inactivity and depression which led to me eating my feelings (I am a person who needs to be active and I was devastated about sitting still). Thanks for sharing your stories everyone. Just thought I would share my most recent!

    Fantastic update. 👍 Hope you will eventually choose to redirect your depression which unfortunately is a side effect with such injuries. At the very least you KNOW where you extra calories are coming from.

    Sending positive energies towards continued healing Laura.