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metal plates and screws on my forearm

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Old 12-13-2006, 04:37 PM   #1
Love and War
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: NY
Posts: 34
Love and War HB User
metal plates and screws on my forearm

Ok so a while ago I broke my arm real bad from trying lacrosse for the first time. I had an obvious deformity in my arm which was extremely gross. I had to have metal plates surgically put on both of my forearm bones. All went fine and my doctor said it would be best to not get the plates removed as they won't cause a problem however he did say that with plates inside my arm it would theoretically be more vulnerable to breaking more easily. I thought to myself "well it ain't nothing to worry about until next year."

A few months later...

From a decent fall I broke my arm again. I had a different doctor this time that treated me. Luckily no surgery was needed this time as they were able to successfully snap my arm back together. I decided to discuss with my doctor of having surgery to get the plates removed but she claimed the bones would be even weaker if the plates were to be removed. Well my first doctor never said this and he claimed it would normally heal back to normal if the plates were to be removed. So I am now not clear as to what to do since the medical directory is not clear on whether removal would be more harmful in the end.

Now the important part is that I love to skateboard. I haven't skated in a while but I want to get back into it and it bothers me that I am vulerable to breaking my arm more easily. I just don't know what to do. I can't give up skating...I have been thinking that if I don't ever fall on my palms then my risk would be greatly reduced. Perhaps I should even consider wearing a special pad that directly protects the forearm as well.

One thing that really worries me is that if I break my arm couldn't I possibly damage my hardware and possible have it cause severe injury to my arm(such as piercing through my skin)

Anyways, any of you have any input on this?

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Old 12-27-2006, 06:32 AM   #2
Senior Veteran
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Oak Ridge, TN, USA
Posts: 648
hrtofluv HB User
Re: metal plates and screws on my forearm

Hey - sorry you've had no response on this, but maybe not alot of experience here. My story is slightly different - but I do have experience with metal removal causing damage.

As for having the removal of metal - my own experience involved a metal rod down my femur bone. I started having issues with it about 6 months after the surgery to put it in for stability ( had a very fragile femur bone that was eaten away by a tumor and getting micro fractures weekly). Xrays showed that good bone had grown back around the rod and my femur looked good. But as I said - 6 months and my knee really started hurting and I started limping again. I tried taking up vball again and was pretty successful, but still having knee trouble. Well, the ortho who performed the rod placement said that as the good bone had grown back it was pushing the rod down onto my knee joint. So he suggested getting it removed.
Nine months after the initial rod placement, I went back in for the rod removal surgery hoping it would help me get back to my active lifestyle.
I will say it really did - I was very active for the next year, but started having trouble the following year.
When I went to a new ortho (different insurance plan, but this guy was more reknown in the bone tumor world) - he was extremely upset that the first ortho even suggested removing the rod. He said when he removed it - it ripped the good bone out with it since it like attached to the metal. The removal put me back where I was to start with before the first surgery.
Needless to say, I have a semi-active life for the past 10 years, but it was hard in my mid20s to sit on the sidelines and watch my friends doing stuff I was scared to try in case I broke my femur or hip.
Thinking back, I doubt I would have done things differently.
Now mid30s, my active lifestyle is shuffling my kids from one sport to another. Coaching and co-coaching different sports (bball, cheer, softball) has become my way of getting involved.
Hope the story enlightens your decision and details why some docs will do removals and some won't.
Wishing you the best!

Old 02-07-2007, 04:07 PM   #3
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Posts: 13
lyn75 HB User
Re: metal plates and screws on my forearm

Love and War,

I had the same when I was in grade 8. Plate and 5 screws. They took it all out 1yr later.

2yrs ago, broke ankle=2pins.

Long story short from my experience. I had to fight to get the later pins removed (just this past friday). The one doc, didn't want to go in there at all. I went to a different one, he took them out. The only time to my knowledge that they leave "hardware" in, besides if it's really really bad, is if the patient is older.

In your case, my two cents,....
If you're going to fall wether or not you have hardware,,,if it's going to break, it's going to break. Did you ask your doc the pros and cons? Why leave 'em in there? What are the benefits? Ect. Make up a list of questions before your next appointment, ask him/her.

As far as skateboarding,,,,good idea on the extra protection.

Old 04-19-2007, 02:57 PM   #4
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 7
kmjmom HB User
Re: metal plates and screws on my forearm

I had an ulnar shortening surgery which resulted in a plate and six screws between my wrist and elbow. They were quite annoying once I felt better. Any time I bumped against something or even felt my arm you could literally feel all 6 screw heads. I chose to have them removed and have never regretted the decision. My Dr did tell me that I had a window of opportunity of 18 months post surgery to decide whether to remove them or not since scar tissue/bone would form around them. I have not had a problem with my arm and it has been at least ten years. Good luck!

Old 10-30-2007, 08:54 AM   #5
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Lincoln, Lincs, UK
Posts: 1
johnscarb HB User
Exclamation Re: metal plates and screws on my forearm

I have metal plate and screws in my left ulna. placed there in 2002. I now have a chance to have these removed.
I get some pain and cannot lift much with this arm but as it is my left arm I can live with it. I have pains in my elbow and wrist in cold weather.
operation is thursday !! .. anyone have any opinions>? should I have the plate removed, after all this time?
I will be doing some skiing this winter dont want to break the arm again !
best regards John. UK

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