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Broken Ankle 5 Days After Surgery

Updated on June 24, 2016
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Just 3 months after surgery on his broken ankle to insert plates and screws, LTM's husband was back on his feet—without needing crutches.

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:
Saturday
Fell 7 metres (23 foot) while trimming a tree
Sunday
Surgery on broken ankle to insert plates and screws (despite it being a Sunday)
Monday
In hospital receiving intravenous antibiotics
Tuesday
Allowed to go home after 48 hours of antibiotics
Wednesday
Home in bed
Thursday
Home in bed
Friday
Dressings changed by doctor
As you can see from this time frame, the photo of my husband's ankle and surgery scars was taken less than one week after falling from the tree and breaking his ankle.

First photo of ankle surgery scars

Five days after surgery on broken ankle bones including his tibia and medial malleolus, my husband had his dressings changed. Here's what his leg looks like.
Five days after surgery on broken ankle bones including his tibia and medial malleolus, my husband had his dressings changed. Here's what his leg looks like. | Source

Tibial Fracture

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

The only time he has removed the supportive boot was in the doctor's surgery while the dressings were changed.
The only time he has removed the supportive boot was in the doctor's surgery while the dressings were changed. | Source

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

The one thing my husband hates most about hospitals is not being allowed to get up and go to the toilet.
The one thing my husband hates most about hospitals is not being allowed to get up and go to the toilet. | Source

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

In the hospital soon after his accident, about one hour after I applied gel to reduce his swelling.
In the hospital soon after his accident, about one hour after I applied gel to reduce his swelling. | Source

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    • profile image

      John Smith 12 months ago

      I Broke my left Tib / Fib June 2000 During a Parachute Jump, I also still have a Plate Pins & Screws Inserted, I am now in my sixties and suffer a lot of pain and swelling on my ankle now caused by athritis, Also suffer from Osteoathritis on my left knee and taking medication for the pain prescribed by my GP. Also on the inside of my ankle their is what looks like bruised blood, So yes I am suffering a lot of pain and distress on my left foot.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia

      Hello monalisamarie. I don't have a mac so I can't advise you on how to recover your lost story, other than to suggest trying to 'search' for one of the words or phrases you know you used. (I tend to google my technical questions.) However you have provided me with a very detailed overview, thank you.

      Your husband has certainly had a lot of health issues. You must both be exhausted!

      My husband and I were surprised by his seemingly rapid recovery. As you will have read in my other hub, I did feed him lots of bone strengthening/healing foods and applied comfrey poultices. However his health was generally good to start with. It sounds like Railey is already plagued with health problems so a broken ankle further complicates your lives. Best wishes for his recovery.

      I am hoping you both have better luck in 2015. :)

    • profile image

      monalisamarie 2 years ago

      I have been reading most all of your posts and your readers' posts for the past 3 days. I just spent the past 2 hours carefully composing a comment on your site about my 66 yr. old husband (Railey) and his broken ankle event (date was 11/22/14; next day was our 35th wedding anniversary, 28th was his 66th birthday) and somehow managed to delete the entire story. I have just started using a mac and do not have a clue what I did to erase the entire comment. They say that nearly everything on a hard drive can be salvaged; I'd LOVE to know how! But in the meantime, we have the urinal, the same black boot, the same type of staple sutures, titanium plate, 12 screws, plus total dislocation of his foot from his ankle, etc. It's been a journey I hope to never repeat. In 2003, he had a motorcycle accident going 25 mph around a curve on a country road. Gravel on the road and he was sent flying 20' into the curve, landing in a ditch on his left shoulder and his helmet (thank God for helmets!). ER: no broken bones, no dislocation; just a separated AC. 4 weeks later after increasingly excruciating pain, we got the films, took them to a highly recommended ortho surgeon whose PA immediately said: "How have you been able to live with this kind of injury? You have a severely fractured humeral head and a posterior dislocation. About 2% of shoulder dislocations are posterior; 98% are anterior. The surgeon had an artificial shoulder in the OR and had scheduled Railey to be his last surgery. Not having any insurance, he was sent home about 4 hours post op. In fact, when we first went in to consult with the surgeon and told him we had no insurance to pay him, he said "Oh, Don't worry, I'll get paid". He even went so far as to recommend an attorney for our malpractice suit. He later said it wasn't his place (ethically) to recommend attorneys but his intentions were clear. We did end up with a small settlement, enough to pay all medical bills, attorney's fees and $3,000 for us.

      But that's ancient history. After surviving aggressive prostate cancer treatments, dealing with diabetes, having a heart attack and quad bypass surgery, we thought we just might bbe out of the woods for a time.''

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Oh, that's dreadful, Copen Kendrick. I have heard about doctors saying, 'I think it is only a sprain but I'll order an xray just in case it is broken' but I've never heard of a doctor taking two months to diagnose a fracture. I trust you'll be going to a different doctor next time you have a problem ... or at least reminding your current one how he let you down badly with your ankle so you expect him to do the right thing in the future. I can't imagine how painful it must have been for you, particularly in the walking boot. Take care and best wishes for a full recovery. :)

    • Copen Kendrick profile image

      Copen Kendrick 3 years ago from Cumming, Georgia

      I fell down some stairs. Not many maybe about 3 carrying a bag of bird seed. My ankle swelled immediately. I spent two months all together in splints, casts, crutches which to me were dangerous and walker. Moved to walking boot but still not getting better. Went back to doctor and after two months of non stop pain he finally took me serious. Took an MRI. Surprise! It was broken. Now, four days after surgery but glad I had it done. I know I will only get better every day with GOD's help and my husband. Listen to your body people. The docs won't.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Sally, I hope your doctor can fix the problem. Why are you having knee replacements?

    • profile image

      Sally Girard 3 years ago

      Hi I broke my ankle last year and it was a double compound fracture ,bones were through the skin leg fell down three stairs I think I really did a good job of rehab however my one foot flares out and my ankle bone kind of sticks that one side so I'm going to the doctor soon to see if anything can be done by that because on that same leg I did have a I knee replacement before the brake. I don't know what can be done. My other knee also needs replacing. Sounds like a wonderful summer.

      Sally

      '

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Hello, John. You certainly have my sympathy. I do hope you have family around to help you cope with the countless tasks that become difficult, if not impossible, when you lose mobility.

      Your efforts to supplement your diet will undoubtedly help with your healing. Giving your body the nutrients it needs to carry out the work necessary to recover from serious injury is a wise decision. Don't forget to drink plenty of water to help flush the toxins from your system.

      Good luck with your hospital visit. I will be interested to hear your news if you choose to offer us an update. :)

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      John 3 years ago

      Hi there, I fully sympathize with your husband's broken ankle predicament. On a Monday, I broke mine from falling with an A frame ladder and I was only 5 rungs up. The ground gave way and down I went and landed very awkwardly. My ankle break is classed as a Weber C which is a very nasty multiple break. I was admitted to the hospital by ambulance having had intravenous paracetamol and gas and air. In hospital, I was given intravenous morphine and an anti sickness drug. As my right foot was out of alignment hey knocked me out with propofol. When I woke up I was in plaster and wheeled off to xray again to find that my foot needed further alignment. I was knocked out again with more propofol, brought around with a 2nd plaster in place, off to xray and then to a ward by 11pm. Due to the swelling, the decision to operate on the Friday was made on the Tuesday morning. I insisted on ice packs over the plaster coupled with high elevation over the next 18hrs. Success as I was taken to theatre Wednesday pm for a 3hr operation. The next morning, I was on crutches and home late evening with a barrage of pain killers (18 tablets a day for 7 days). The pain at times during the healing process so far of 4 weeks has been sheer torture. The resulting constipation meant only being able to function every other day and yes I should have had a baby naming book with me each time!!

      4 weeks of no weight bearing on my healing ankle so far and at least another 2 weeks to go before my next check up. I did have my 3rd plaster cast (the mother of all plasters !!) removed 2 weeks after my op along with the removal of 12 and 8 staples....a process that I can only compare to being stung by a small swarm of wasps!!....my current cast is a blue fibreglass one and I did have to go back on more painkillers due to the horrendous ligament pains that I was suffering from in my sleep. no-one warns you of the whole pain process, the healing twinges like electrical currents on raw tissue, the constipation, the skill that you have to learn quickly to manage crutches whilst having a wee, a wash, etc, etc.

      I have supplemented my diet with drinking Aloe Vera gel, taking 10mg of L arginine (the body converts this to nitric oxide which is needed to promote bone and tissue healing, 1 tbsp cinnamon sprinkled on my morning porridge as cinnamon contains manganese (useful for bone structure), Vitamin D and Vitamin C. It will be interesting to see the healing results when I'm back to hospital in just over a weeks time (6 weeks since my operation). I hope to get a walking boot but who knows at this stage.

      It will

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Yikes, Jasmine. That was bad timing. I know what you'll be doing for Christmas. :)

      My husband has been back at work for months now and his ankle healed really well. Can I suggest you take a look at this hub https://hubpages.com/health/Broken-Ankle-Healing-B... about the foods that are good for healing broken bones. Pay particular attention to the foods that help relieve constipation caused by pain killers ... I think you'll find them very helpful.

      And if you think you'll need help with the swelling, take a look at this one. https://remedygrove.com/remedies/Mobicosa-review-n... He took the capsules to help rebuild his cartlidge, and used the gel to address the swelling.

      Good luck with your recovery. Keep me posted. I hope it doesn't take long until you're back on your feet. :)

    • profile image

      Jasmine 3 years ago

      hi I just broke my ankle last sat and im having surgery Mon. I am so nervous but I know everything going to be ok. thyhanks for posting this it was very helpful. ill keep u posted....Keep me in prayer for a speedy recovery!!

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      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, Audrey. My husband has entered the 'bored' phase. He no longer has pain - just the frustration of not being able to get around and do all the things he wants to finish. lol. I keep reminding him he is lucky it wasn't his neck. :)

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Hi prasetio30. I'm pleased it was helpful. :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      Good luck to both of you---I am glad to see that you are both doing well through this process--

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very informative hub. I learn many things here. Thanks for writing and sharing with us. ~Prasetio

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      lol. Thanks, aviannovice. I told him he'd get no sympathy from me or any other mother for anything less than the size of a watermelon. Every ailment requires a little perspective. :)

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Glad to hear that all is well at your place except for the minor constipation issue.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      You're welcome, Vickiw, and thank you for sharing it. One of the things I like about HP and the internet in general is the chance to learn from others' experiences. :)

    • profile image

      Vickiw 4 years ago

      Hi LongTimeMother, I was so interested in this that I immediately shared it with a friend, and forgot to comment! So interesting, and I will read your hubs on arthritis - not for me, but my friend. I am so glad that your docs were inspired enough to think of doing some research on this remedy. Thanks for writing this.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
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      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Hi travmaj. I broke an ankle years ago but circumstances prevented me from getting to a hospital. It healed but there's still a pointy bit of bone sticking out at an odd angle. I'm very rarely conscious of it. I've forgotten about the pain and that's what I keep saying to my husband ... "Give it a few years and you'll have forgotten all of this." :) Probably doesn't make him feel much better right now, though.

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      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, FlourishAnyway. My kids used to urge me to roller skate with them but I was afraid I'd break something. :)

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 4 years ago from australia

      That does look painful and I hope your husband has a quick recovery. No, I haven't suffered a broken ankle - good luck.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Ouch! I have never broken a bone (knock on wood) but I sincerely wish you and your husband the best. It hurts just looking at it. Both of my parents have broken wrists -- my father in a fall on our rooftop applying shingles and my mother roller skating with us kids. My mother's wrist never returned to "normal" size. My best wishes for healthy and pain-free healing!