Calcaneus fracture surgery or not? Update on Surgery
Saturday I fell 8 feet or so from a ladder I shattered my left calcaneus and caused a minor fracure in the right one. My issue is the left one because mother nature will take care of the right one. The biggest fracture is about 3mm wide and extends into the joint that fracture is pretty much in the middle of the bone and fortunately the calcaneus didn't displace much at all (both sides are supporting the weight evenly). The calcaneus is also now cocked to one side slightly. Here is my issue:
The Dr said on a scale of 1 to 10 it is a 5. He told me I have 2 choices one is no surgery this will leave me open to arthitis which if bad enough may require me having one of my ankle joints fused so I will have no side to side movement. I could also have a limp and obviously pain when walking.
2nd option is surgery, you know plates and screws he is extreamly confident he can do it but when he listed off the complications that could happen ie infections causing the need for skin grafts or worse Loss of foot!!! I got nervous. So now I'm here to find out if the surgery and risks associated with it are worth it from the people who have gone thru it. I did some research on the guy and he is very qualified so I have no concerns about him or his skills. I am 45 and my hobbies include hunting, fishing (Both Ice and fresh water) camping and ATVing. As you can see I'm somewhat active so I done want to loose any of that.
Last edited by Submariner; 03-30-2007 at 08:45 AM.
The following user gives a hug of support to Submariner: ALAYNE18 (12-16-2011)
I also fell of a ladder but only 6 ft high i had surgery to install a steel plate and thirteen screws. I did catch a major infection. It was called staph and something else. I was on antibiotics for six weeks horse pills that they were. In my case it my calcaneous shattered like an egg. they use a cadavor bone to help my heel heal better and to reconstuct it. It was in 8-21-06 that it happened at work. First surgery was on 9/11 and the second one was on 10/02. It's been about six months and i cannot still walk. On march first my doc is going to remove the hardware and hopefully i will be able to walk from heel to toe motion. He also said that he might have to fuse the bone also but if removing the hardware and screws helps me to walk it would not require the fusion. Like you i'm still scared i had to wait 3 weeks before i can have surgery. Let me what happens if you want.
I had the exact same injury on my right foot which happened 11/05 -- a 3mm intraarticular fracture. The first thing my ortho doctor said is the bad news that you fractured your heel bone and the good new is that you don't need surgery. He said that surgery is needed if the fracture is 5mm or greater. The chance of arthritis is 100% but he said it can be managed when it happens (probably in 5-10 years) and that the probability of subtalar joint fusion surgery in my case is only 10% because it's a simple fracture and the fracture is not too wide. I'm 32 years old.
You should be prepared for a long recovery. I still have pain when staying on my feet a few hours. I used to love going on long hikes and that's something I haven't done since the injury. When the doctors allows you walk again, probably in 8-12 weeks, I strongly recommend that you go to physical therapy. I did not go right away and waited some six months thinking that I can get stronger on my own, but that was a mistake.
After reviewing my case with his 2 partners it looks like they are now leaning towards surgey. I have an appointment tomorrow 2/13 at 11:45 to get the complete story. I think the fact that I have multiple 3mm fractures along with multiple smaller ones, some bone chips and my calcaneus is now pushed off to one side has made them reconsider. They have gone back and forth on this break because it is right on the threshold of needing surgery. When I'm actually checked into the hospital is when I'll believe it is being done.
Last edited by Submariner; 02-12-2007 at 10:20 AM.
After more x-rays from a different angle they found one break in the joint was uneven by at least a 1/4 of an inch and it was 4mm+ wide. Goes to show that you can't get enough CAT scans and x-rays. The 1st set done in the ER didn't show the severity of the break. Surgery is scheduled for Friday at 12:20.
Last edited by Submariner; 02-14-2007 at 05:40 AM.
Re: Calcaneus fracture surgery or not? Update on surgery
Well I see alot of horror stories on the websites so I figured I would give one with a good result. My surgery was done on 2/16. I was lucky because most of the breaks were small enough to heal without plates or screws but the doctor still had to insert 2 screws to repair the worst of it. No cast and no overnight stay involved. They wanted me to stay one day but I convinced them I could handle the pain and was ready to go home. I will tell you once the nerve block wore off 18 hours later I was in severe pain. If I had it to do over I would have started on the meds that night and continued with them even though it didn't hurt. Be advised you will want to get the drugs in your system ASAP in prep for the block to wear off. It is now 6 weeks after surgery and I had my 2nd post op appointment yesterday. The doc is very happy with the outcome. He is allowing me to put about 1/4 of my weight on the foot (Still on crutches) and is allowing me to drive my car (It has a manual tranny). I will be on crutches for 4 more weeks. Since I did the exersises he gave me I have recovered most of my degree of movment so at this time no PT. The next hurtle will be in a few months to see if I end up with either a limp or permanent pain. As an FYI I was in a wheel chair from 2/3 up until about 3/16 because in my fall I also severly sprained my right ankle and put a hairline fracture in the right heel. Being in the chair may have helped me heal because as you all know crutches are a PITA.
Last edited by Submariner; 03-30-2007 at 08:44 AM.
Re: Calcaneus fracture surgery or not? Update on surgery
Hey guys. I also had an ORIF, plate with 11 screws. My injury was isolated to the right heel. The injury was 1/30 and surgury was 2/8. I am non weight bearing since the fall, duhhh, but my 10 weeks of it is up in 3 weeks+/-. My only complication was an infection in the surgury incision, antibiotics and a wound vac has brought every thing under control. No PT yet due to the infection, but I work on the ROM on my own. So far no horror stories from me, although I haven't begun walking yet and much remains to be seen.
For me the surgery was a success and futhermore the right choice. Your physicians ability to guide you toward the proper treatment should be reassuring not confusing. The first Dr. I saw left me with more questions than answers, so I sought further counsel. Surgery is a big deal and should be considered with caution and information. This site is great for support, but listen to the health care professionals you have placed your trust in and in their knowledge.
like you i also fell off a ladder. shattered calc., with 3 main linear fracture lines extending vertically into the subtalar joint, no initial surgey. i was nwb for 3 months, then pt, finally rtn to work after 5 months. in the mean time i saw a different ortho and a podiatrist. all 3 docs said fusion would eventually be needed. the pain never went away, arthritis set in almost right away, and i am 47. the doc said when arthritis sets in doesnt have anything to do with age. found a new ortho who only does feet and ankles. he tried an orthotic that immobizes the ankle as a cast would but is removable. that worked for about 2 months then the pain came back. had the fusion of the subtalar joint performed on th 9th of feb, i am still in acast but am walking now in the cast with no pain! it all depends on who does the surgery and their proficiency at their trade. i wouldnt hesitate to let my surgeon do the other one if i had broken it as well, but fortunately i only trashed the rt. foot.