Last week I suffered a calcaneous fracture. I am scheduled for surgery next week. But I was told the surgery is not completely necessary--there's a 10% risk of infection, with the worse outcome being amputation. Also, it means 4 months without walking. WITHOUT surgery, I could be walking in 6 weeks, but have very limited side-to-side movement. Has anyone had to make this type of decision? Anyone with calcaneous fractures out there? Any story you could share would be appreciated. Thanks, Pam
Well I had a surgical break of the calcaneus with a single screw fixation. I ended up with osteomyelitis which is a bone infection and in result have had 2 additional surgeries, a week in the hospital and IV antibiotics for 6 weeks, I have 2 1/2 weeks left on the IV therapy. I have lost side to side movement from the infection. No matter what you are going to lose some movement. It's up to you.. 6 weeks sounds a lot better to me. A lot depends on how bad the break is.. Good luck!
Sorry to hear about your condition. I had the surgery and I am 14 weeks post accident. I had no option as the fracture was compound. PT has been very helpful but I can't believe how slow and painful the recovery is. I continue to use pain med's just to function through the entire day (grad student, full time job, 2 little kids, building a new home, mom-in-law with cancer - a bit busy!)
Hi Joe and Stephanie,
Thanks for sharing your experiences. I ended up having the surgery on May 25, so it's been just over 1 month. I did get an infection, but fortunately it was superficial, and the dr's blasted me w/ antibiotics. Seems to be under control now.
I had 2 screws put in (there are 3 fracture lines), and pieces of bone moved around to recreate the articulating joint. Pain is starting to subside, but I wonder how painful PT will be... Well, I have 2 more months with no weight bearing first.
Your injury sounds similar to mine - I had 2 lines and 'spare pieces' (I did break the skin)- 2 external screws were in for 6 weeks. I began PT two days after the screws were removed. After they took out the pins I was allowed to put partial weight (to tolerance) while wearing my 'boot'. Then, on May 25 I was told I was free to do whatever I could weight-wise without the boot. At the May 25 appointment I had an x-ray which showed good healing but indicated some 'cloudiness' - which the doc translated as indicative of not putting weight on the healing bone. Apparently, at a certain point, the weight on the bone encourages regrowth. Anyway, I remember noting that my foot would not fit into shoes at all - 'he (jokingly) replied that I should 'stuff it in my sneaker' and get at it!' Seriously, though he understood there was still much pain, he wanted me to work through it and the swelling has continued to reduce.
In mid May, my therapist used a tape to measure my ankle (they have a certain way of wrapping it around and under etc.) My bad foot was 52.5 cm - which meant nothing until I made him measure my good foot which was 47 or so. I think the last time I asked him to do it I was down to 49 so things are loosening up.
Are your pins external or internal, temp, perm? I would encourage you to begin PT asap. So much of the surrounding muscle/tendons/lig's suffer from being inactive that you will find that rehab of everything is a major part of the battle.
I broke my right calcaneous on Sep 6, 2003. A plate and 10 screws were implanted to repair the bone which has occurred. Over time, pain subsided, but then began increasing, even after the PT told me they had done what they could for me.
The doctor said the hardware was causing the irritation, so he removed it on June 9. While he was in there, he scoped the subtaler joint and found about 30% cartiledge loss which was the main source of pain. He ordered me an athletic ankle brace to restrict joint movement to see if that helps with the continued pain ( I am on one crutch and still and have trouble walking). Waiting on brace now.
If that does not help, then Dr recommends a fusion of the joint - this will eliminate the side-side motion of the joint, but allow normal walking on flat ground.
This has been the most difficult thing I've had to go thru. Unbelievable recovery time, loss of work and extremely frustrated. But, I pray for patience and know there is a reason for everything...........
Glad to hear you're progressing. Yes, our injuries do sound similar. My screws are perm. interior. (Can't wait to go through airport security!)
It's very interesting what you/your doc said about getting on with partial weight bearing. I wish mine had said that, but he's adamant about not bearing weight. He said his work will get "smooshed up", and I may have to have it redone (*shudder*). My next appointment is Aug 9, and my 3 months of no weight will be up Aug 21ish.
I have seen improvement in being able to move my foot a little and getting some sensation back. I believe this is b/c I've recently stopped wearing the boot (unless I go out) and getting out in the sun while home! I really think fresh air and sun help a lot, rather than keeping my foot in that stinky boot!
How painful is/was your PT?
Well, my uneducated guess is that because your pins are permanent they want things to heal with no weight for much longer, which makes sense. Don't do anything that he said might cause him to redo the operation!!!
My only thought would be to try hard (if doc has said it's okay) to exercise, stretch, move, wiggle as much as you can. The first part of PT is all ROM (range of motion) - the four simple exercises I did at home are:
1. Point foot as far forward, pull foot up as far back.
2. Circle starting inward, reverse, circle back.
3. With toes as the tip of your 'pencil', draw every letter of the alphabet.
4. Wrap a belt around your big toe and pull back to stretch - the big toe has some particular muscles that need to be stretched after inactivity.
About three times a day if possible.
Regarding pain - the pt is all good pain. My therapists are outstanding and they push me - by the afternoon of and day after my foot/leg would need much ice and feel hot/throb - but it feels so good to know that your mobility is increasing that I wouldn't even worry about it.
Just so I am clear - do you put your foot on the ground while wearing the boot?
My name is Tracy and I have been suffering from the same type of fracture for almost 8 weeks now. I was rushed to the hospital after my fall complaining of a "foot injury" the hospital just consintrated on my ankle, they came back to me after taking x-rays and told me that I had just severly sprained my left ankle, gave me an air cast, some crutches and a script for pain and sent me home. 5 weeks later I was following up with my GP and he could not understand why the swelling had not diappeared so took another set of x-rays. Come to find out after 4 doctor's visits and countless x-rays, the diagonsis is that not only did I severly sprain my ankle but I broke my left heel in 3 places. Now the trama orthopedic surgeon told me that I could either wear a moon boot type soft cast for 1 more month and it might heal on its own, or I could have surgery and have 2 screws but in on either side of my ankle to draw the bones together. I am now going for a second opinion on the advice of my GP
Thanks for your input. My doc did say, a while ago, to move my foot around as much as I can. It's been 10 weeks now, so today I tried to take some baby steps using the inside of my bad foot. Walked about 5 feet. I know, I shouldn't try, but *%*&^#. My next appt is in 3 days, so I'm hoping PT will begin next week.
I noticed my big toe doesn't want to move much. My left side of the foot is still a bit swollen and very numb, so my 2 small toes have no movement. Strange, since there was no direct injury to my toes. I suppose it's the connected nerves.
Can't wait to be bipedal!
PS, the boot is history-I haven't been wearing it in a few weeks. It's summer and I'm barefoot as usual. Sometime's I'll wear my Teva's and look normal (except for the crutches). But no, I don't put my foot on the ground when using crutches.
Last edited by Pam2000; 07-30-2004 at 06:49 AM.
Reason: additional thought
How horrible! Sounds like malpractice to me. I hope by now you've gotten 2nd or 3rd opinions regarding the pro's and con's of surgery. This has been a long haul for me, but I think surgery was the best option, when I think of the long term affects of this type of injury (limited movement, arthritis, ...). I hope the surgery will rectify these things.
Hi there, I just recentley had this type of surgery and so far so good. I shattered my heel and really had no choice whether or not to get surgery.I am glad I did because I have alot of movement and I have not gone through pt yet. That starts thursday . I'm hopeful though....compared to the alternative of extreme pain , I think I made the right choice. Good Luck!
I've just had a calcaneus break from an automobile accident. (August 5th) I'm curious about some things from these postings. Should I perhaps try to bear a little weight? My PT said that a little stressing of the site would make it heal faster. He suggested doing some stretching, muscle flexion, etc. inside my cast. My Orthopedic surgeon felt casting was the best option - I have one break all the way through, and it's only a little out of place. I would love to hear from anyone who has had only casting to find out how successful it was. I'm sorry to hear about all the complications most of the surgeries have had. Cindy
Maybe you have read my story elswhere on here. Anyway, my doc explained to me (after my pins were removed) that bearing weight does imporve the healing of a bone. After an x-ray he showed me the 'cloudiness' of the area and told me that walking on my foot would improve the healing and 'clear up' the picture - so I would say - as long as you have the doctor's go-ahead - put weight on it to tolerance. I have no info on the cast-only results. I wish you luck - it is not an easy injury.
Sounds like the way I felt in March. Keep it elevated! You have a long way to go. But it will get better, very slowly. I hope the appointment goes well with the doc - make sure you convey all the painful details. Also, as soon as you can, I recommend pointing your foot and pulling it up as much as possible - the scar tissue that you will develop now will be a hurdle later. Good luck and stay in touch - lot's of people on this baord to help.