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Foot & Ankle Problems Message Board

Foot & Ankle Problems Board Index

It seems to depend a lot on the doctor who does the repairs. I think that fractures are a bit more consistent than soft tissue injuries but there is still some variation.

I had a conservative dr so I had a longer recovery. I was in a surgical cast (this huge mass of ace wrap, guaze, cotton, fiberglass and plaster casts) for 5 days and then in hard casts for 10 weeks. The last 4 weeks I was in a walking cast. I was on bedrest for 6 weeks with my foot elevated over my heart ("toes over nose"), so essentially I was in a semi-reclined position at all times for 6 weeks. I got a boot at 10 weeks and started PT then. PT for the first 6 weeks was ROM, gentle strengthening with a theraband, working on moving my toes and strengthening the movements in my foot (things like picking up marbles with my toes and scrunching up a towel with my toes which was my nemesis; it took 6 weeks of hard work to achieve), and some strenthening of the calves, quads and hamstrings with a leg press. I was allowed to do exercises with my boot off but couldn't bear weight with exercise for 6 weeks. I found that the key to success in recovery was in those first 6 weeks. I spent about 2 hours every day with my boot off while I watched TV and did my exercises with breaks as needed. I did lots of ROM and scar massage and moved through the theraband all the way to the heaviest band they had. That really made therapy go better both in the early period and later. By the end of 4 weeks I was really ready to move on and the next couple weeks were frustrating because I was capable of more than I was allowed to do.

At 16 weeks I went into a brace and shoe (actually I was allowed to start with that; I had to wean into wearing those and it took probably 2 weeks to fully transition.) I started working on balance, proprioception, more intense strengthening and re-learning how to walk normally after 5 years of limping and walking from my knee. I think I was in PT until week 28 and then I finished it one week and was discharged from the orthopedist the next week. At that time the brace was discharged except for "risky activities" and I was told I can do anything I want, even sports I never dreamed I'd be allowed to do (nor do I have any interest in playing like basketball or tennis) just so I wear the brace if the activity is risky.

I still have work to do on balance and "ankle strategies" (getting my ankle to kick in the correct response if all my weight shifts onto it suddenly or there are suddenly position changes and the ankle needs to not roll). I also do plenty of stretching to keep the scar tissue where we want it and not where we don't and general strength and proprioception. I'm also trying to get back into shape after nearly a year of limited activity plus all that time on bedrest (I injured everything in 2009 but tore it all again in March of last year and had surgery in June so it's been almost a year of limited activities. Now I'm not limited by anything but safety but snow and ice and then influenza plus snow and ice have kept me inside a lot for the last 6 weeks and I've not been out without a brace very many times because of that. REcovery from my surgeries is supposed to be a year so I'm now 2/3rds of the way through.

It's hard and frustrating but looking back it went surprisingly fast. I tried to focus on little goals, at the beginning mostly just making it from ortho visit to ortho visit since they were 2 weeks apart and then later on what I could do activity wise and in PT. It's a little easier to do this after you wait for nearly 5 years because you can be glad to have it over with and I'm sure that doesn't seem that way when you have an acute injury you just want to be done with. But it will heal up and you'll get your life back and in a few months you'll even forget this happened sometimes.

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