Fractured ankle

Dear friends,

I fell on Easter fracturing the tibia and the fibula right above the ankle. I had surgery to stabilize the fractures with a plate on each side of the fracture and screws to hold the plates.  Three weeks later, I am in a purple fiberglass cast, and can not bear any weight on this leg. I have crutches, a wheelchair, and a knee scooter to navigate.

I am exhausted combined with the PMR/GCA. As mentioned before, I am also receiving the Actemra IV for the GCA monthly. So, I am reducing the Prednisone because the Actemra has been helping, and for healing of the fracture.

I will not be able to bear weight on this left leg for 4-6 more weeks. Then I will start intensive physical therapy.

My husband has been wonderful, and a friend comes 2-3 times a week in the mornings to help me bathe, dress, and tidy up the house.

I know some of you have mentioned that you have broken limbs, etc. while on the Prednisone, How did your healing of the fracture progress, and did you find any lifestyle changes or activities that helped you cope with all of this.

Just getting in to the car is exhausting, but I continue to go as I need the change of scenery and exercise. Thank you for just being here.

18 Replies

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  • I had my broken leg before pred.  But I did get a hint from the orthopedic specialist.  He said to contract the muscles in the leg which I couldn't put weight on for several weeks.  He said that would help maintain some of the muscle tone so that it would be easier to start walking again when I was ready.  In my case he said I should do anything that I wanted to short of bearing weight.  You might want to pass that past your doctor in case there is anything you should be careful about.

  • HeronNS, thanks so much for your reply. I realize that I never asked the surgeon if I should avoid any activities besides not bearing weight on that leg. I will ask him.

  • Hi I know it's not quite the same but I fell 3 weeks ago and fractured my wrist.  I had to have surgery to fix a metal plate.  After surgery they dressed the wound and put on a padded crepe bandage.  Bandage came off after 2 days and dressing came off after two weeks.   Yesterday I had my first lot of physio.  I have been on Pred for 15 months (GCA) so I was worried about the healing process.  But everything is absolutely fine.  No slow down or difficulty with healing.  I have fairly good flexibility in the wrist already, I just need to do my exercises to build up the strength.  Physio did say keep the elbow and shoulder moving as well as the wrist exercises.  Maybe that is something that would help you?  Gentle hip and knee exercises while the cast is still on, just to keep the strength in the upper leg?  Hope you heal fast X   

  • Dear joyful

    Poor you. I have been there and you have my sympatises. I too have PMR/GCA & lont-term steroid user. It was exhausting being on crutches. My ankle was broken, then not diagnosed, so in the end I had to have an op to screw it together. It has healed very well and I have no long-term side effects from this, apart from occasionally I have a very slight pain in the ankle.

    Living on my own and only upstairs toilet facilites made life more difficult, but neighbours were brilliant. I had a downstairs commode, walking frames, travel kettle upstairs, milk in a thermos flask etc, etc. Once downstairs I stayed there until bedtime. Hired a wheelchair and other bits and pieces from the red cross.

    I also hired a scooter, which was absolutely brilliant. Thoroughly recommend hiring one. It has a little basket on the front so you can carry bits and pieces and you just rest you broken leg/ankle on a pad and push with the other leg/foot. I don't know where you live, but I'm in UK and the companay was called Ride on, if I remember correctly. It can also be used outside. Well worth every penny.

    The healing went well, but I did take lots of care not to overdo it. I never ever want to have to do this again. Getting up and down the stairs on my bottom was not a great memory.

    Best wishes with your recovery.

  • Dear Gosingen,

    l'm glad that you are feeling so much better. we are renting a knee scooter. It does really help at home, except we have a small home with many tight corners. However, I am getting to be a better driver!.

    We just had friends staying in a vacation rental for a week. She has severe visual disabilities, so planning any events took a lot of time.

    We had a good time, but I am exhausted. Looking forward to some quiet days.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Joyful 13

  • PS I hope they gave you exercises, if not, ask. I remember moving my ankle bending it etc, etc whilst resting on my bed/sofa.

  • The PT gave me some exercises before I left the hospital to do with the injured leg until I can bear weight.

  • ~Special thoughts of you Joyful - keep chin up, thinking of you.

    Abundant blessings xxx

  • Thank you, Megams. I appreciate the encouragement.

  • Sorry you are having problems, hope you have had your magnesium and calcium levels checked particularly if you are taking omerprazolon along with the predisolone, these have to be requested they do not show in a full blood count. Get well soon. 

  • Dear NanaB43,

    I have had the calcium and magnesium levels checked. Also had a dexoscan since the fracture.

  • I didn't break anything but needed crutches for the best part of 9 months for an achilles tendon problem - it was exhausting and my hands and shoulders HURT! 

    I also had 3 months non-weight-bearing with a similar complex tib/fib fracture years ago - take all the help you can! I was young and fit (did it skiing...). As someone else has said if you can get a wheelchair do - save all your energy for what HAS to be done. I did the shopping in a wheelchair at my usual supermarket - they didn't have the motorised ones then. But don't feel guilty about asking to use them - if the battery hasn't been run down by the evening a member of staff has to drive them round to run it down! They will also often allocate a member of staff to go round with you and get things from too high or too low positions. I did stairs on my bottom - once a day was more than enough though.

    The shock comes when they take the plaster off - no leg muscle however much you have clenched thighs and wiggled toes! It does return quite quickly with or without physio - they refused me any physio which I was a bit p*ssed off about, was told "Just walking is enough" much to the disgust of a physio I asked a few years later. 

    And you will probably have some serious epilation to deal with! My leg was covered in dark curly hair! Very appealing!

  • Hi PMRpro! Thanks for sharing your experiences. 

    I have not tried grocery shopping as yet, but have been thinking about trying it with my husband or friend caregiver.

    I was shocked when the doctor removed the splint two weeks after surgery, It was the first time I had seen my foot since before the fall. There was so much swelling and bruising. I will be having intensive PT after I can bear weight and don't need the cast any longer.

    I am looking forward to the time I can bear weight again,

    Take care,

  • I did mine in Italy and it was screwed together in the local hospital where all ski stuff was sorted out - they had plenty of practice! I had no splint at all post surgery and was discharged without more than a dressing! It wasn't until I got home to the UK that I had a cast put on with a special floating heel so I could use the leg for balance but it was a full leg plaster with a hinge at the knee - my break was higher than yours. It weighed a ton.

  • Dear Joyful, So sorry to hear you are struggling; all I can say is, a fractured ankle is bad enough with out the added complications of PMR and GCA. Be kind and patient with/to yourself. Kindest regards and lots of blessings to you. Marion7 x

  • Dear Marin7,

    Thanks for your blessings and compassion,

  • I read  all the responses and they sound helpful. I wish I could add some miracle info. But it will take time and patience. Where are you located?  I ask because you are being treated with actemera. I know it is being used in the US (my country) but have not heard about it anywhere else. If I want it, the cost is $3400 a month. Am curious. Good luck to you. Hope you heal well and quick. Marilyn

  • Dea Nap1,

    I live in Sonoma, CA and have Medicare through Kaiser. Kaiser is not charging me for the Actemra IV infusions. I was very surprised and blessed by this decision. It has definitely been helping the GCA, and enabling me to decrease the Prednisone. 

    I hope you and many other people with GCA will have an opportunity to try the Actemra without paying the enormous costs.

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