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Recovering from a broken ankle
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Matthew Marasco
(BabyMatty) - F

Locale: Western/Central PA, Adirondacks
Recovering from a broken ankle on 06/09/2012 02:22:40 MDT Print View

Just wondering if any of you BPLers have had to recover from serious ankle injuries, and how it may have affected your hiking. Early in February, I slipped on some black ice in my driveway and severely broke my ankle. It required an operation to implant a titanium plate that runs almost to my calf, that is fastened to my fibula with seven screws. I seem to have made a great recovery, and have been back at work for about three weeks now (I'm a server, so I was off of work for a few months), physical therapy is going well, and I am somewhat relieved. The first few weeks after the injury, I began working myself up with all sorts of thoughts that this could end my ability to participate in this passion of ours, or severely limit it.

I was hoping to hear anyone's experiences of recovering from similar injuries. How long did it take to feel back to 100%? Any new precautions you take when you go on hikes now, especially long-distance ones where you could find yourself in a bad position if you re-injured yourself miles from help? I've never been a trekking pole user, but I was thinking they could be especially beneficial to me now.

Anyhow, I would love to hear any insight you all would care to offer. I really want to make the best possible recovery so I can continue to do this thing of ours... Thanks guys and gals.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Recovering from a broken ankle on 06/09/2012 02:28:30 MDT Print View

"This thing of ours..." I spent enough time in Jersey and PA to know what that means!

Seriously though, best wishes on your full recovery.

Matthew Marasco
(BabyMatty) - F

Locale: Western/Central PA, Adirondacks
re: on 06/09/2012 03:34:46 MDT Print View

Hahaha, I guess all those Sopranos I watched while I was injured rubbed off a little... "This thing of ours". A fitting description though!

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Recovering from a broken ankle on 06/09/2012 07:58:50 MDT Print View

I broke my ankle skiing - spiral fracture - several screws. Real problem was I broke a bunch of little bones in my ankle/foot.

Before - I could hike 20 miles, 5000 feet elevation gain, 40 pound pack (pretty tired though). Climbed Hood, Adams, Rainier, St Helens.

After - maybe 13 miles with 20 pound pack and my ankle gets sore - I am older too so that has something to do with it : ). Climbed St Helens, Hood, Three Sisters.

I think the point is you can recover pretty good although possibly not to quite the same level.

Cast for 3 months. Then I did lot's of bicycle riding. My muscles were atrophied after 3 months in cast. Maybe a year later I was pretty good. Went skiing once. Climbed Mt. Hood.

One thing that was pretty useful was that occasionally someone pointed out that I was limping, which puts uneven load on your legs. Need to practice symetry and your muscles will recover better.

30 years later my left leg is a little smaller - I guess I need to practice more symetry.

Logan Kidwell
(Logan) - MLife

Locale: Maine
maybe not 100% on 06/11/2012 16:27:14 MDT Print View

I broke my ankle a year and a half ago on January 31. I was on crutches until May, when I had surgery to fix all the things that didn't heal right or needed to be removed, etc. Anyway, it has been about 1 year since the cast finally came off.

I don't mean to be a downer, but I don't know that I'll ever get back to 100%. My ankle just doesn't work like it once did. Weather related arthritis really sucks, as does needing a little extra time to get the kinks out of it after sleeping or sitting without moving it.

That being said, I am still hiking and leading backpacking trips, still paddleboarding, still wrestling, and starting to run again. Running hurts (ironically where the big bone chip was removed), but I am finding my way through the rest of it. I get caught off guard sometimes because my ankle doesn't work like my body remembers that it should (I had a ligament tightened).

The good news: I'm speeding up in alot of ways rather than slowing down.
The sobering fact: once again, it has been about a year since I got out of the cast
One thing that has really really helped: barefoot/ minimalist footwear. I don't wear any shoes with thick soles or heels anymore which has caused dramatic improvements.

Best of luck,


spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
1 year is not long enough on 06/11/2012 16:59:03 MDT Print View

Years ago, I broke my fibula and tibia right above the ankle, also requiring surgery with a plate and seven screws. Before I was a competitive swimmer and lifted weights; after I swam recreationally, played rugby, and still lifted. It was at least 3 years before I could say it was working acceptably, and probably 5 before I'd even consider drawing a conclusion about long term recovery results. It has been over a decade now and the ankle gives me no trouble. I'm comfortable saying it's 100%. A year is nothing after major trauma. You need to keep working and give it more time.

Did your surgeon mention the possibility of removing the hardware? Sometime between 1 and 2 years I was able to have the metal removed. It required another stint on crutches and some care while the screw holes healed, but it made a world of difference in recovering flexibility.