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Broken Tib/fib


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#1 Vladimir

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 01:42 PM

Just wondering how other runners are faring after complete fractures of their tib & fib.
I did this injury back in 2003, playing Aussie rules. I had a nail inserted into my tibia, with 2 screws near the ankle, and 1 screw up near the knee. I did the injury in June, was jogging again in November, and got back into full swing by April the next year. I ran a marathon in August 2004, 14 months after the injury with no trouble.
I do still get a lot of trouble with swelling though, especially after drinking alcohol (it's a curse), and also after long-haul flights. Running seems to move the fluid away for a while but it eventually comes back.
Does anyone else have this trouble? It is not painful, but I assume it's poor circulation which isn't ideal.
Has anyone had the nail taken out of their tibia? Mine is still there, and I am not at all keen to move it if it requires surgery.
Has anyone had this injury longer ago (e.g. 20 years ago) that could give me some insight as to what the effects might be in 10-15 years time?

Thanks

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#2 Pink Lady

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 12:27 PM

View PostVladimir, on Jan 18 2009, 09:42 PM, said:

Has anyone had this injury longer ago (e.g. 20 years ago) that could give me some insight as to what the effects might be in 10-15 years time?
Hi Vladimir - I had a series of somwhat similar injuries 45 years ago. That may be beyond the time frame you mentioned however for what it is worth here is something of my experience.

Swelling continued to occur for ~10 years, especially in hot weather.
At one stage I was forced to cut down on my activity and arthritis started to develop around the injured areas. I tried a variety of ways of combat this and have found over the years that exercise, e.g. running, is probably the best way to keep arthritis at bay.
Since getting shoes that help overcome the remnant irregular movement left in my lower leg and ankle I feel comfortable in my running and rarely got any problems that could be attributed to the damage in the leg/ankle.

I hope that you can continue to keep enjoying your running

#3 ali_catstar

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 12:29 PM

Hi there - I'm also interested in views on this one! I snapped my tib 6 years ago in 3 places, and now have a plate and 9 screws along the length of the bone.  I find that while I can run, I do get some pain and swelling in the area from time to time.  I've found that elevating the leg helps - I too suspect circulation isn't the best.  

Lately I've had several recurrent infections along the scar of where the plate is, and there is a view these might be caused by the plate. I've been encouraged to think about getting the plate and screws removed.  Has anyone had this done before, and if so, what kind of recovery time is there, and would it may affect the strength of the bone in the future .. ?!

#4 bananaboy

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 12:29 PM

Hi Vlad

I had a complete fracture of the tib/fib in 2002 and had a rod inserted like you. Mine was done playing touch football (who would've thought! ;)) . I was back running within around 12 months from memory and have been competing regularly in fun runs/tris ever. I had the rode removed about 18 months after the break, it was really no problem at all, a night in hospital and maybe a week of swelling. The fracture itself has healed well and I don't have any swelling like you mention, but I do have problems with knee stability and tracking which can result in soreness when I train hard. My physio seems to think that the operations to insert and remove the rod have had some affect on my knee, so she has got me doing some isolation exercises to strengthen the muscles etc around the joint. Something for you to keep an eye on anyway!

Cheers,
Bananaboy

#5 FrankieP

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 12:39 PM

Vladimir I suffered a similar injury in November 2006 after a dirtbike accidentand had the same internal fixation as you, the tibial nail and two distal and one proximal screws. I've had all screws out now but the rod is still in, I'll have that out after running a marathon this year.

I don't get any problems with fluid retention there but do have rain pain when the barometer drops and also the cold makes it really hurt a lot in winter. Could only run 5km this morning due to the rain pain.. I try and battle on, seeing as it's not 'real' pain, but today it was pretty intense.

I'm currently deciding whether to get the nail out or not. I'm the best candidate for keeping it in, as apart from the cold and rain making my leg ache I'm trouble free (and that might not even be due to the nail), but I want to ride horses and skydive etc, and it's best to get the rod out in case I break the leg again.

I started my training blog (linked in my sig) when still off work with my fracture, and in the first few posts nearly two years ago now I was trying to start running again. This was around 4 months after the fracture, and 'running' meant a fast lurch with gritted teeth for ten paces, then a rest until my vision was normal again! There's pics of my xrays on the blog someplace though, lots of before and afters.


Bananaboy it's good to hear the removal op went well for you. My surgeon told me it's around two months' recovery after it, which has put me off having it sooner.. I'm just done healing after having it put in, sod having more time off! How long after having your rod removed was it before you were running fine again?

Apart from very infrequent random twinges I haven't any probs with my patella tendon at all, though it took three months before I had complete range of movement back in that knee and it still feels horrible to kneel upon.


Ali if your plate is a source of recurrent infection I'm surprised they haven't told you to get it out already. You don't want to risk osteomyelitis, and you'll be more and more susceptible to this with each infection due to scar tissue formation. Get the bugger out.

#6 Vladimir

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 04:19 PM

Thanks for all your input,
The doctor told me afterwards that he didn't have my leg quite straight, but I wasn't about to have another crack at getting it straight! It can't be too far out though, I don't run in circles or anything.
I saw a similar operation done on TV, and it was more like the surgeon was a carpenter then a surgeon.
I too have trouble with the knee, it's not pain, but I refuse to kneel on it. It is like it has been anaesthatised and it is half way through wearing off.
The swelling is definitely much worse this time of year, which I put down to being the festive season, but now I feel I have another excuse- hot weather!
While I wouldn't like to go through the injury again, it has been a blessing in disguise. I was just plodding along, playing football, running occassionally before the break. I did a half marathon 1 month before the break and did 99 minutes, but am now down to about 82. While I wouldn't call it life changing, it certainly got me going better then ever once I got back into it.

#7 SoLucky

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 04:39 PM

View PostVladimir, on Jan 19 2009, 01:42 PM, said:

Has anyone had the nail taken out of their tibia? Mine is still there, and I am not at all keen to move it if it requires surgery.
Has anyone had this injury longer ago (e.g. 20 years ago) that could give me some insight as to what the effects might be in 10-15 years time?

Thanks
Vladimir, my history in one way is similar to Pink Ladyís, the time span since incurring the fractures is well beyond the 10 or 15 years that you asked about. Actually itís more like 56 years but taking the long view, it still may be of interest to you.
At the time there was a disagreement between my 350 AJS motorbike and a WA Govt bus and, not surprisingly, the undoubted winner of the argument was the big green bus.
Injuries to bus: zilch.
Injuries to AJS: extensive.  
Injuries to SL: fractured tib and fib on left leg, fractured upper left arm.
The bone mechanics in the ďmotor bikeĒ ward at Royal Perth rejoined my tibia with two large screws, the fibula was left to its own devices but was immobilised by a cast for several weeks. My arm was plated and also partly secured in a cast.
From memory it was about 3 or 4 months before I could rejoin the workforce, mainly because of nerve damage causing paralysis of my left arm.
About two years later while in the Army on National Service, I had a creditable performance in a 5 mile cross country event. No troubles.
Ten years after the accident, I found that the prominent head of one screw on my shin needed a protective cover while engaging in judo. Otherwise, all OK.
About 20 years after the accident I started more regular running when some guys formed the old Townsville Marathon Club. Again, no troubles.
Since retiring from the work scene, I have occasionally pushed the running distances out to the 12 hour range. No troubles (not screw related anyway).

Itís likely that my screws and plate will accompany me when Iím packed into the long wooden box.

Edit. Now that I think about it, some of the more serious problems in my life were screw related.

Edited by SoLucky, 20 January 2009 - 05:21 PM.


#8 Peterhorse

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 10:13 PM

Gidday Vlad

not quite as dramatic an injury as the other posters in my case but here's the story fwiw... the broke the top (plateau) of my tibia and chipped the fibula (left leg on the lateral side) playing rugby in 1988 (21 years ago). I had a screw inserted in the tibula on a 45o angle to pin the broken piece back in place and i still have it today. I was 8 weeks in plaster, they set it bent, then 12 weeks to get it straightened again and built up from being very thin and weak. i did medial and lateral ligaments and cartilege damage as well. i returned to rugby for another 5 years - i am left footed and played fullback so had lots of kicking to do with that leg. I also played cricket for another 8-10 years as an opening bowler, although that was my back leg in the bowling action. the orthopedic surgeon said initially, you're mad if you keep playing as he rightly should have but he did suggest that i should not have to have the screw removed at any stage unles re-injured. luckily i escaped any further injury.

i only started running in 2004 after a 5-7 year stint of doing nothing at all sporting wise. initially 3-4 runs a week of 5-6k each. i did a 12k event as a goal in mid '04, the same event in '05, then started to increase the distance and did a half marathon that year. i've done two full marathons and lots of 10k and half marathons since then, and recently triathlons from short to longer distances.

sorry about the long history, but i can say from all that, i have never had a problem with the screw or that leg (i can't hop on it as high but it is actually stronger).

...the chronic problem i have in my lower back due to a spondylolesthesis and 20years of cricket is another story - i have plenty of injury management issues due to to that problem.

hope that helps

cheers

PH