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Broke my leg, need some input.
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Spidermite


Mar 20, 2011, 10:09 PM
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Broke my leg, need some input.
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So i broke my leg, spiral fracture of the tibia and spiral fracture if the fibula, the fibula is broke up by my knee and the tibia is broken down near my ankle.
The doctor went in and put in a plate and seven screws, 2 of which stick out a quarter inch through the bone, in the process he damaged one of the nerves in my leg causing me loss of movement in my toes and loss of "touch" feeling in most of my leg. its been about 3 and a half weeks now, hurts like all hell, and still cant support any weight without it feeling like its going to break again.

at this point my spirits are really low and im really discouraged about doing anything anymore after this, im normally a super active individual climbing, backpacking, hiking, rafting, etc etc..

There's probably much better places to post and look for answers but i figured a community of really active people would understand and be the best place ask.
im just looking for some input..
- down time ?
- your experiences if you've ever broke your leg like this ?
- what to expect trying to get active again ?
- is it going to be fragile now ?

the risk of breaking it again being in the middle of no where scares me, the financial burden of it is already overbearing.



Thanks guys.

Josh

here's my X-rays if anyones interested.. the ovals are from the boot they had me in the first couple weeks.










special_blend


Mar 20, 2011, 10:37 PM
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Ouch, that's a nasty break. Although I've never broken a leg I watched my little brother deal with one and I've broken a few bones. At three and a half weeks with such a severe break it's not surprising that it is still painful to put weight on the leg, it will probably take another 3 weeks before you can put your weight on it. But not all is lost! There are still many exercises you can perform to keep your strength up, specifically in your core and upper body. Bicycle Kicks, Supermans, chin ups, and hip raises will strengthen your hamstrings and core so you can already be ahead of the game for when the cast comes off and you need to strengthen the leg back up.

For such a complicated break expect to be in a cast or brace for 7-9 weeks.
Yes the bone will be weaker and more prone to breakage but bones are resilient so don't worry about it too much.
What to expect: focus on core trianing while the bone heals and then focus on slowly training the leg muscles back up once you are out of it. I predict physio balls and plyometrics in your future.
If you train correctly in the post recovery phase then you will feel back to normal in about 6 weeks after the brace comes off.


Learn to find pleasure in being the "shuttle bitch" see it as an opportunity to focus on your 4x4ing.
If there is little to no approaches to the crag go with your friends and hang out, at least you'll be outside.


shockabuku


Mar 21, 2011, 2:20 AM
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Best wishes for the best recovery you can get.


granite_grrl


Mar 21, 2011, 4:30 AM
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I broke my femur and my pelvis almost 5 years ago now.

The set of problems that I've dealt with will be different than anything that you will. I've know a few people who have had tib-fib breaks and I don't think they've had serious issues. Sounds like your biggest potential issue will be the nerve damage? Have you gotten any hints if this will be permanent?

Anyway, I wouldn't stress about loss of time not climbing right now. Strength is pretty quick to come back, and I don't think you'll be out of commission as long as you think you will. FWIW - I spent 6 weeks in the hospital, 2.5 months non-weight bearing on that leg, ~6 months until I could hang in a harness again, and was climbing harder post accident than pre-accident (both sport and trad) just over a year after I initially got hurt.


billl7


Mar 21, 2011, 5:42 AM
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I suspect you are at the 'crux' of the recovery. Right about at that point I said to my wife, "You ought to take me out back and shoot me." She said "Not just yet - I have to wait until you can run."Wink

My leg break was a little different - lower down involving the ankle joint. Also, I tore the ligament between the tibia and fibula in a way that meant 12 weeks in some kind of external support: so six weeks in a cast(s) and six weeks in a boot probably like yours. I now have a plate and 7 screws altogether.

- down time ?

12 weeks in a cast / boot and a total of 9 months before I felt 95% back to normal. I suspect your "down time" will be much less.

- your experiences if you've ever broke your leg like this ?

It's tough but don't beat yourself up. I was out of climbing for four months but it seems to have come back now after as many more months of 2-3 times a week at the gym. For me, hiking / backpacking was the slowest in coming back. Main thing I did was to frequently push my hiking limit once out of the cast.

- what to expect trying to get active again ?

There's been some good advice elsewhere in the thread. For me it was that fine balance of pushing into getting back active but not too hard. Can't say I did it the best way. Exercising your leg muscles when / as you can is good advice although 3 weeks seems like a short time for bone healing to allow much activity. Maybe I'm wrong.

- is it going to be fragile now ?

I'm thinking bones typically get back to full strength. I've been treating mine that way since out of the cast and have not had any problems.

Nerve damage may be the longer lasting thing - I've lost some touch feeling on the top of my foot although I don't feel it has impeded me.

Bill L


jjanowia


Mar 21, 2011, 7:33 AM
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I broke my tib and fib in an ice climbing fall about 2 years ago.

It was slightly less severe than yours, based on the x-rays and description. Nevertheless, I was crutching and booting it for months.

I was an active runner (in addition to climber) before the accident. Within 9 months, I was easing back into running OK.

As said above, you're probably at the toughest part of the recovery, mentally. I found it was helpful to have other things to focus / obsess on. It's hard to 'bootstrap' yourself into such things, but feeling like you're actually doing something is really helpful.

Also consider that the first thing you'll be able to do is probably push pedals on a bicycle; I'm guessing you'll be doing that in PT if you're not already doing it. Getting into riding, scrounging parts on craigslist, and putting together a bike I could ride as soon as I was healthy was a nice distraction for me.

Whatever you do, don't get hooked on the painkillers. A good way to avoid this is either not fill the scrip, or to just be the candyman when your friends are around. They sap your energy and make it easier to be in a low mental / emotional place.

The body is a hell of a thing, and if you do what is recommended to you interms of physical therapy, you'll be surprised how quickly you bounce back. Good luck, man! You'll be fine.


olderic


Mar 21, 2011, 7:40 AM
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It will improve. But honestly you may not get back to 100% of where you were - but if you are determined I expect you will be able to do most of what you formally could. Not sure how old you are - that would make some difference. I did something pretty similar almost exactly 7 years ago. Not quite as bad and lower down in the fib - involving the ankle more. tib was ok. I am old (was 54 at the time). In my case the improvements continued for ~2 years. I was climbing with the walking boot on my foot which I got after 9 weeks in a cast - after 3 months (TR-ed 10c (outdoors) in that damn boot - never knew I could campus that well..). Was able to get a loose climbing show on after 5 months and started climbing regularly after about 7 months - but was still in a lot of pain (worst thing was trying to mow the lawn with that damn boot on ~ 6 months after). So after a year I was climbing almost normally and after 2 years I could walk almost normally. Now I use it as an excuse not to carry the rope...

BUT - I can't run - not at all - can't jump or push off hard. Not running has been pretty discouraging - I always enjoyed it but not being able to move quickly is just frustrating - think of going car to door in a down pour.

Now full disclosure - this was the 3rd time I had broken that ankle and there was already arthritis. But the real issue is that I had no surgery it all. THE ER doc sort of lined things up but indicated I would have surgery the next day. But the next day the regular doc said what the ER one had done was "good enough". I am sure he was factoring in my age and desk jockey job and could not possibly understand how important climbing and being active was and is towards me. I am sure the surgery would have been difficult and had potential risks like you have encountered. But in any ideal world you could have found the perfect surgeon who really cared about you and gotten it done. But with the current US medical/insurance system it's not going to happen and unless you are making 8 figures a year doing something with a ball you will have to settle for "good enough". Anyway I am sure you will climb again.


potreroed


Mar 21, 2011, 9:12 AM
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Keep a lip upper stiff and be patient. A year from now you'll be stronger than ever.


gblauer
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Mar 21, 2011, 10:01 AM
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Ouch ouch ouch!

So sorry to hear about your accident.

My friend Ted did much the same thing last winter ice climbing. By Summer he was leading hard sport climbs...and Ted is in his late 50's.

There is life after serious injury/illness/conditions. With strong motivation you will come back. You may have to adapt, use adaptive gear, and fight hard to regain your former strength, skills and capability. If you want it, you can do it.

Hang in there and send us progress updates.


olympicmtnboy


Mar 21, 2011, 11:30 AM
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Maybe not the most encouraging/fastest recovery, but you might get some inspiration from Steph Abegg's ongoing "trip report" from her tib/fib fracture in the North Cascades: http://www.stephabegg.com/...tripreports/recovery

My only experience is with a much less severe broken ankle (7 weeks on crutches and 3 before I could bear any weight at all). I would expect with what you have that 3 and a half weeks in is still only in the very beginning of recovery, but there is a good chance that with some work and dedication you can recover and still be pretty active. I've done much harder things since I broke my ankle 6 years ago, even though there is some small loss of flexibility and a couple numb spots (and a plate and 7 screws still there).

Being an active person I couldn't emphasize enough getting some exercise of whatever type you can. It will help you physically and mentally. I took up yoga for the first time with an understanding instructor who helped me adapt everything to be be one legged while I was non-weight bearing. Swimming was also great when they let you get things wet, even if you do go in circles for a while. Biking too, just don't end up back in the hospital if you wreck like me, getting stitches in a different limb.

You'll get through it and you'll find ways to adapt, just keep a positive attitude, do your research and your physio, and don't do anything to stupid. ;-)


dudlej01


Mar 21, 2011, 1:00 PM
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Ouch, that is a bad break. Best wishes for the recovery.

I broke my leg a few years ago. Not as serious as yours - I had a spiral fracture of the fibula, near the anke, and several torn ankle ligaments. I had a plate and screws in the fibula + a temporary screw to fix the ankle whilst the ligaments healed.

I was in a cast for 8 weeks, and it took some time to return to full strength - I'd say 3 months to 80%, 6 months to 90%,1 year till 95% and 2 years till 100%

So basically, my advice would be to be patient and understand that it does take a lot of time, but it will get there. For me at least recovery was slow and steady, and though when the cast first came off I thought it would never be the same, it is now back to 100%.

Also, I'd recommend finding a good physiotherapist and getting as much physio as possible, doing all the home exercises they give you, etc. For me I think that is what contributed most to my recovery especially in the intial stages getting the strength and flexibility back into the joint.

Good luck with the recovery!

edit: oops, I broke my fibula not tibia, I always get those two mixed up Crazy


(This post was edited by dudlej01 on Mar 21, 2011, 10:49 PM)


onceahardman


Mar 21, 2011, 4:32 PM
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Really good advice in this thread.

I have a good friend who had a fairly similar injury, way back in the middle of nowhere. (helicopter rescue). He never climbed again, but he could, and he skis at a high level.

I have another buddy who had an even more similar injury while skiing, with the nerve damage and everything. He still walks with a limp, 3 years later. But he is skiing, and working a physical job.

You said you have difficulty bearing weight on it. Do you have Full Weight Bearing status from the MD? Please pay attention and respect the surgeon on this. Among the bigger risks to your future is a non-union fracture. (google it).

Good luck, thanks for the pics!


dindolino32


Mar 21, 2011, 4:50 PM
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I work with fractures all the time in my job, I am an orthotist and see this all the time. The bone should heal up just fine just don't push it because the process is slow. As for the nerve injury, I suspect it was your peroneal nerve. If you can pull your toes up and evert your ankle, you have nothing to worry about as for future usage. If it hurts, that is normal if it was just slightly damaged. I would be more worried if you didn't feel anything at all. Keep up your spirit. I know many of us feel that there is little to life without climbing but there are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself.


spitfire


Mar 21, 2011, 6:33 PM
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The person who posted the information about Steph Abegg is correct, that is a great place to go and get inspiration. Steph and I have been in frequent contact as I had an accident similar to hers two months prior. My accident was in July and hers was in September. I am in my 8th month of recovery and am struggling to stay consistent in my motivation. I am a runner/triathlete who tried rock climbing once indoors and once outdoors (when I had my fall). I have had a tough recovery mentally, but physically I am ahead of where doctors thought I would be. I have 9 screws and a plate. I used a bone stimulator, was unable to bear weight until the end of September and taught my students from a wheelchair from August to October, moved to crutches, walking boot, flat shoes and now I am wearing my heels every other day:) I just started a walk to jog program. 3 weeks is a bit early to walk it seems. I don't know, but I was still on bed rest at three weeks. The process is frustrating, but it is easy to find comfort in others' stories that may be like yours. Feel free to email me and I will answer specific questions about recovery, pain, mental stability, whatever. You name it...I felt it or went through it. (lidlbit15@yahoo.com)
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Bats


Mar 21, 2011, 7:42 PM
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Sorry! One of my climbing partners took a whipper and had a spiral break. The plates that the doctors put him detoriated his bone. Several operations later, and several halos later, he is walking a after 2 years. The doctors rebuilt his ankle by taking a muscle under the right armpit to about his waist. They also took a huge chunk of skin off his thigh. He was a trad climber. He was supposed to start climbing again, just some TR, but I haven't seen him at the gym. I haven't seen in the pool. Later...I am going to call my buddy.
Get better!


billl7


Mar 21, 2011, 8:39 PM
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One other thought ...

There will be this notion of "You'll never be the same." Others will say it. And it's true.

But don't take it toooo seriously. Yeah, I'll never be the same. But I'm also back to the climbing as I was before the accident (with an extra layer of caution). ... back to where I can hike 10+ miles carrying a rack, rope, water, food, other gear, put in a multi-pitch climb, and feel the next morning like I could get up and do it again.

That's not defiance. It's just where motivation has carried me and can carry you.

... and, yeah, sure, I'll never be the same.

Cheers!
Bill L


milesenoell


Mar 21, 2011, 10:46 PM
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I had my ankle reconstructed a couple years ago and during the down time and recovery I found my self worrying that I wouldn't get back to 100%, but by the time I was hitting 75-80% and could run again I was stoked.

I never got back to 100% but I got close enough that I feel gratitude rather than bitterness when I think about my mobility.


pyrosis


Mar 22, 2011, 12:59 AM
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I broke my tibia and fibula 13 years ago. It has a plate and five screws, still in place now. I remember being non-weight bearing for eight weeks. Elevation was the best pain relief. I would lay flat on the couch with my leg propped up on the back of the couch, so 2' higher than my heart. This worked far better than the shitty Tylenol 3 that the stingy orthopod had prescribed me.

After eight weeks I started to bear weight on it, though it was painful and weak at first. ~ 4 weeks later I was climbing again, and in fact leading fairly close to what was my level at the time (5.10 sport)

I tried to snowboard at this point and it was absolutley impossible, excruciating.

Climbing was ok though.


granite_grrl


Mar 22, 2011, 9:38 AM
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billl7 wrote:
One other thought ...

There will be this notion of "You'll never be the same." Others will say it. And it's true.

But don't take it toooo seriously. Yeah, I'll never be the same. But I'm also back to the climbing as I was before the accident (with an extra layer of caution). ... back to where I can hike 10+ miles carrying a rack, rope, water, food, other gear, put in a multi-pitch climb, and feel the next morning like I could get up and do it again.

That's not defiance. It's just where motivation has carried me and can carry you.

... and, yeah, sure, I'll never be the same.

Cheers!
Bill L
Hey, I got pretty fucked up the time I got hurt. I'll probably always feel the weather in my hip when the seasons change, and it is something I'll always carry with me. I'll never be the same, but it's an evolution and I don't think I would be as good of a climber as I am right now if I hadn't gone through this.


billcoe_


Mar 22, 2011, 11:12 AM
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Hang in there and you'll get well Josh! That Steph link is pretty amazing.

How did you break it?


Spidermite


Apr 4, 2011, 5:43 PM
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Hey guys, thank you for the positive comments and encouragement, I apologize for the long delay in my reply. I haven't been on the computer much at all.

My leg isn't hurting nearly as bad as it did, I'm able to comfortably use it lightly for balance but not yet able to stand on it fully. I go in later today for Xrays and to the doctor tomorrow for another check up, the swelling went down a lot so my current cast is feeling a little baggy and sloppy, on the last visit the doctor opened up the toe part of my cast so i could work on trying to move my toes lol. So far, I can move the little toe next to my pinky toe at will but the others don't move, and if i try to toe down on anything, my big toe just folds, as hard as i try it doesn't respond to me trying to push down. Its kind of frustrating to say the least. Still can't feel anything as far as touch goes ether.

I'll keep ya posted as things progress. thanks again for the positive encouragement.


enigma


Apr 4, 2011, 8:05 PM
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Spidermite wrote:
Hey guys, thank you for the positive comments and encouragement, I apologize for the long delay in my reply. I haven't been on the computer much at all.

My leg isn't hurting nearly as bad as it did, I'm able to comfortably use it lightly for balance but not yet able to stand on it fully. I go in later today for Xrays and to the doctor tomorrow for another check up, the swelling went down a lot so my current cast is feeling a little baggy and sloppy, on the last visit the doctor opened up the toe part of my cast so i could work on trying to move my toes lol. So far, I can move the little toe next to my pinky toe at will but the others don't move, and if i try to toe down on anything, my big toe just folds, as hard as i try it doesn't respond to me trying to push down. Its kind of frustrating to say the least. Still can't feel anything as far as touch goes ether.

I'll keep ya posted as things progress. thanks again for the positive encouragement.


Be thankful it wasn't both legs and your pelvis, when I looked at that photo of the guy leading Illusion Dweller a couple of months ago. My heart sank for him.
What climb were you on?

Hope your recovery is going well.


BumpinUgly


Apr 5, 2011, 4:41 AM
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Whoa, dude. That's nasty. Forget what all these other upbeat-glass is half full dumb asses think. Be honest with yourself. You're screwed.


cline7


Apr 5, 2011, 7:55 PM
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Bumpinugly- you must not know a damn thing. you will heal I broke my leg twice playing football I have no problems and on top of that at age 7 got ran over by a lawn mower. you're not screwed. you will be weak in that leg for sure but you have to take the time to build it back up.


BumpinUgly


Apr 6, 2011, 9:40 AM
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cline7 wrote:
Bumpinugly- you must not know a damn thing. you will heal I broke my leg twice playing football I have no problems and on top of that at age 7 got ran over by a lawn mower. you're not screwed. you will be weak in that leg for sure but you have to take the time to build it back up.

Although I may "not know a damn thing" about medicine, I do know a thing or two about grammar and punctuation. Did your unfortunate lawn mower accident negatively affect your ability to learn the English language?

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