Broken Ankle 5 Days After Surgery
I drove my husband to the hospital with a broken ankle on Saturday afternoon. As I explained in my recent article titled How to Reduce Swelling Fast on a Broken Ankle, I had quickly applied a natural remedy to hopefully reduce the swelling (his foot already looked like a football) and headed for medical help.
To our surprise he was taken into surgery the next day, Sunday. There was no need to wait for swelling to reduce using the usual ice packs because the one application of Mobicosa Gel had successfully addressed the swelling problem. I learned today that some people with a broken ankle are forced to endure up to two weeks of pain before surgery because their ankle is so swollen.
My husband had his operation, was discharged from hospital and was back in our bed within just a few days. We were told to take him to the local doctor to have his dressings changed on Friday. That's today; less than one week since his accident. I had my camera ready and took the first photos of his leg after surgery.
First Few Days After Breaking Ankle
This week, in brief:
Fell 7 metres (23 foot) while trimming a tree
Surgery on broken ankle to insert plates and screws (despite it being a Sunday)
In hospital receiving intravenous antibiotics
Allowed to go home after 48 hours of antibiotics
Home in bed
Home in bed
Dressings changed by doctor
First photo of ankle surgery scars
The longest cut from his ankle up the length of his shin must be due to the tibial fracture. Our next appointment with the bone specialist is in about ten days time so we will get more information then, but it was a surprise to see 'ankle surgery' extend so far up his leg.
His discharge notes mention complex displaced intra articular fractures of the distal tibia plafond; displaced intra articular fracture of the medial malleolus; undisplaced fracture of the lateral aspect of the talar dome, with intra-articular extension into the distal tibiofibular joint.
Because I have not yet seen the x-rays or cat scans, it is hard for me to get a mental image of exactly what this kind of damage looks like ... but when I read the line Two undisplaced hairline fractures of the distal tibia are seen which extend into the distal tibial intra articular fractures, I was pleased there's a delay in seeing the images. The report hints my husband's skeleton may have become a bit of a jigsaw puzzle.
Boot to support broken ankle
Hospital or Home After Broken Ankle Surgery?
A few of our friends insist they'd need a week or more in hospital if they had bone damage like a broken ankle. They find the idea of coping at home after surgery on a broken bone quite intimidating. For my husband, there was no question where he would rather be. He is not a fan of noise and being woken regularly for blood pressure checks unless it is absolutely necessary. Of course a hospital is a great place to be when you need to be there; but given the chance to come home, he took it.
We were given a few basic instructions for care at home after surgery to repair his broken ankle.
- Wear the support boot, even in bed.
The boot is big and clunky, but if it helps repair his broken ankle he is happy to wear it at all times.
- Keep leg raised.
He needs to keep his toes above his nose for the next few weeks so I purchased some blocks of dense foam and cut them to size so he can sleep in bed with his leg elevated appropriately, and move when he wants to the couch.
- Hospital provided him with crutches.
I asked if they have a 4-wheel-drive version of crutches because we live off the grid and the ground between the car and our home is uneven and grassy. No sign of smooth pavement near our house.
- Hospital arranged for a 'bath bench' even though we don't have a bath.
We place the bath bench in the shower and it extends out onto the bathroom floor. He sits on it, I help him slide back into the shower, and his leg extends out through the open door, resting on foam on the end of the bench.
We were told by hospital staff that we could remove his protective boot while showering and wrap his bandaged leg in a plastic bag. But I decided it was safer to just bag his whole lower leg, boot included.
- Dressings must be changed after 5 days.
His dressings need to be changed after five days, but we were instructed to ask our local doctor to take care of that process. As soon as we arrived home, I phoned the local doctor's surgery to make the appointment.
Home Care vs Hospital Care
Pain Management and Side Effects
A badly broken ankle certainly demands pain management. When he arrived at our local hospital, and again at the city hospital, he was given morphine. The morphine immediately reduced the pain, but it also made him sick.
After his operation, he was prescribed a pain medication called Endone. He was also given paracetemol (I think mainly to avoid swelling) plus told to take one Aspirin each morning (to thin his blood and reduce the danger of blood clots.) He was provided with the same tablets to continue using at home.
On his left leg, the good leg, he has to wear a pressure stocking. I believe its role is to help avoid clotting in that leg while he is inactive.
Nobody at the hospital warned us about the constipation that accompanies Endone. Perhaps it is a side effect of all pain meds, but constipation has proven to be a significant inconvenience for my husband and at least one other of our friends who was prescribed Endone to manage pain after fracturing his ankle about a year ago.
Our friend phoned my husband to check on his progress. He asked what pain med he'd been given, then suggested he take a Baby Naming book and a glass of water to the bathroom with him when he eventually managed to overcome the constipation because it would deserve a christening.
We successfully addressed the constipation issue with some old-fashioned herbal remedies, and my husband made the immediate decision to stop taking the Endone tablets. He is now relying on my diet and herbal recommendations to manage both the pain and the toilet issues. The pain medication given to us by the hospital, Endone, will stay in the box.
I am wondering how receptive the surgical team might be about my alternative suggestions for pain management once they start their tests on the natural anti-inflammatory I used that impressed them so much. (I explained how the surgeons expressed they intend to run tests to see if they can replicate our success in quickly and effectively reducing swelling on broken ankles in a previous article. See link below.)
There is a small amount of bruising at the base of his ankle, and I am kicking myself for not being more diligent in applying the Mobicosa Gel at the time of the accident. I am conscious of the fact that I hurriedly swiped the gel once over his ankle before loading him into the car and could have paid more attention to covering the entire area of his foot.
We did not apply any more gel at the hospital, and I resisted the urge to apply some more gel on the unbroken skin when we were in the doctor's surgery. I am thinking it is wise to let the surgeons see the results without further intervention when we return for the formal check up in about ten days.
I will not start playing with the area around his wounds until I get permission from the orthopaedic doctors themselves. I am hoping they will agree to let me apply a little more of the magic gel.
Having read the frightening list of possible side effects on the Endone information sheet I obtained from our pharmacist, I'd like to think the hospital might also be open to trying a few of my alternative suggestions for pain management. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen. :)
Have you broken an ankle?
I am particularly interested in hearing feedback from anyone else who has broken an ankle. I know a broken ankle is a common injury, and I would like to compare my husband's results with the experiences of other patients.
Please leave a comment giving me a few clues about your experience. Was your ankle of a similar size 5 days after surgery, or 6 days after your accident? Is his apparent lack of swelling unusual, or are these photos typical for most people with a broken ankle? Thanks in advance for any thoughts you share.
Broken ankle support
My earlier article about my husband's broken ankle
- How to reduce swelling fast on a broken ankle
The natural remedy I applied to quickly reduce swelling around my husband's broken ankle allowed doctors to operate three days earlier than normal. He was home before most people reach surgery!!
Xrays showing the damage in my husband's ankle
- Broken Ankle x ray with plate and screws
Nature holds no remedy for a badly broken ankle needing surgery to insert a plate and screws to mend the broken bones. These x rays provide further evidence of the good job the mobicosa gel did to immediately reduce swelling. :)