Recovery


A Tibial Plateau fracture is really not much fun, but it helps if you are prepared and in many cases doctors will not prepare you properly for daily life after your injury. If I had to give you only one piece of Advice on Tibial Plateau eracture recovery it would be: be patient. And in the end, it’s not as bad as it looks.

Below is a more elaborate list of time-tested knowledge and information on different subjects related to your Tibial Plateau fracture. There are also separate sections for the different stages of recovery (from the menu above choose “1-8 weeks” etc.)

*Note: this website is not intended to provide medical advice. Your doctor is a much better source for medical advice.  This information is based on firsh-hand personal experience and research*

What to expect – overview

You will be leaving the hospital on crutches, usually with a hinged brace. For the first few weeks you will experience quite a few different uncomfortable symptoms but these all pass quickly. Natural symptoms include limited range of motion in your leg (in the knee and ankle joints) as well as pain, heat flashes, edema and stiffness Some of these will be caused by the fact that you are not completely mobile. Things will progress from here until in the end you are (in most cases) completely able to do your everyday activities, but it will take some time and hard work.

Time to recovery

Recovery from a Tibial Plateau fracture is different from person to person. It depends very much on the exact type and specifics of injury, your age, prior issues, level of physical activity, physiotherapy, nutrition and many other factors. Given all of these differences it is still quite safe to say that for most people, if you the injury was treated by surgery, you will still be in some kind of recovery for a complete year after your injury¹. In most cases it will be more than that, Improvement showing up to three years after. This sounds like a lot, and it is, but I can assure you that it does get better and that for most people after a few months your the injury will not prevent you from continuing with you daily life and you will be able to do all your daily activities to some extent including walking short distances, going out, meeting with friends, going to work etc.

Weight Bearing

For a period of about 6-8 weeks after the surgery you will be NWB (non-wait-baring), this means that you can not put any pressure on your knee and leg and will need to use a wheelchair, crutches or both. For some injuries it might take up to 12 weeks until allowed FWB(Full weight bearing). Depending on your doctor and your specific health condition you will be moving from NWB to PWB (Partial Weight bearing) or FWBAT (Full weight bearing as tolerated). This period of NWB will cause many mobility concerns and will affect your daily routine.

Mobility

You will be spending a few days in a hospital bed then progressing to a wheel chair and crutches, which you will be using for about 2 months, possibly followed by a single crutch and walking stick (see paragraph above – “weight bearing”). It could be up to 3 months on crutches, and up to 6 still using a walking stick (but usually much less). Also expect that initially you won’t be able to bend your knee much for a few weeks. This is called limited ROM (range-of-motion). Crutches are hard to use at first, and may be painful on the hands and shoulder, but don’t worry you will get used to them very quickly. And as a bonus you will develop very strong arm muscles. In some cases, overuse and pressure on your hands can cause secondary injuries to your wrists, arms or shoulders. If you are in pain from using crutches take it easy and use a wheelchair for a short while. You should also consider testing different types of crutches. Forearm crutches are usually more comfortable (then underarm) and come in ergonomic varieties. Today many advanced crutches also support ergonomic designs, anti-slip, and special features (link, link). Underarm crutches are usually safer then regular forearm crutches (link), but tend to be less comfortable, and don’t come with as many smart designs. Platform crutches might be good for people with a poor grip, but I haven’t tried them myself. Some crutches will also have shock absorbers to help your wrists and arms absorb shock (link).

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All this will require that you prepare for a period of partial mobility. Things you might be limited in doing include – walking up and down stairs, house jobs (cleaning, cooking, washing), carrying things from place to place (no free hands when using crutches), reaching high and low cabinets, showering. At first, you might also have trouble getting dressed and undressed but this will pass quickly. The best way to deal with this is have friends, partners & family help you with everyday chores and prepare the house as much as possible to make things easier. A few things you could do are:

  • Get a shower chair so that you are able to shower without bearing weight (link) and possibly also invest in some big bags or drycast or other cast covers (link) so that you can shower without taking your brace or cast off during the first few weeks.
  • Be very careful when using crutches in a wet surface because you could easily slip. Even more dangerous is if the crutches are wet and the floor is not. Make sure to dry the bottom of your crutches on a towel before leaving the shower.
  • If your crutches are very old and the tips are cracked, replace the tips with new rubber tips. The come very cheaply (link)
  • Use a gripper (link) to be able to reach those unreachable cabinets and to be able to grasp and retrieve items you would not be able to otherwise while on a wheel chair (link).
  • Make sure that someone prepares food and goes shopping for you. Other options include ordering in prepared food and ordering groceries online.
  • If your bed is on the second floor, Consider sleeping in a different room if you find it hard to get up the stairs. You can also climb stairs with crutches, or sitting down.
  • High and low cabinets are are hard to reach. Try moving things around so that they are easier to reach. Doors on low cabinets can also be unhinged to allow for easier access with a wheel chair. They can easily be put back on later.
  • More useful ideas can be found in the “logistics” section and “Tips & Tricks

Physiotherapy

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Physiotherapy is going to be a regular part of your life. The are several goals: increase ROM, increase muscle-mass, teach your musculoskeletal system to operate as before and increase your stability. It is very very important that you start physiotherapy as early as possible and keep at it until you are completely better. This is the one factor that will affect your recovery more then any other and it is completely up to you. I’ve written a complete section on physiotherapy alone. Usually you will be given exercises to perform from your physiotherapist. At the very beginning you will probably not be able to bend or straighten your knee at all. This can be quite frightening but don’t be alarmed. Initially exercises will aim to teach your neurological system to control the leg again. It might even only be hours before you will start to be able to bend your leg, or it could be a few days.  After this, during the NWB (not in all cases) period you will be performing gentle exercises to enhance your ROM, strengthen your muscles and reduce stiffness, sometimes using stretch bands(link). Exercises might be done at home or in a medical center. It is very important that during this stage you follow PT instructions and do the exercises as soon as possible and as much as possible. This will reduce stiffness, boost recovery and give you a better chance at developing good ROM. When you progress to WB, physiotherapy will include many exercises with weights and machinery with the aim of gaining stability and muscle and to exercise everyday activities like walking. I can not emphasize enough how important it is that you keep at it (even if it means you go to work less). To be able to do physiotherapy at home you can consider purchasing light ankle weights(link).  For more info and tips, have a look at the physiotherapy section.

Medical professional

Several medical professionals will be involved in your recovery process, including the radiologists, the OS (“operating surgeon”), Physiotherapist and sometimes others. You will be having regular checkups with them. It is very important that you make sure your OS is a good one, and that you consult with him on every question you have. Be curious and ask everything you want to know. Sometimes doctors will not be generous with information, make sure that you get your answers. You deserve them. Seek extra information in sites like this one (more sites in the further reading section). In many cases the PT and the OS will be discussing your condition either directly or passing notes through you. Make sure that they talk if they are not already talking, but remember that when they give contradicting advice – the opinion of the OS is always the one to go by. You might also want to consider getting a second opinion both before or after your surgery.

Diet

Bone healing requires quite a lot of nutritional help, especially during the first 3 months(This is when the bone is healing), so make sure to eat well, and consider supplementation. For your healing to progress well you need to make sure that you get a lot of Calories, Protein, Antioxidants and minerals. During the first few weeks of healing your body will consume about 2-3(!) times as many calories as normal. This is about 6000 calories per day, so no need to feel bad if you’re eating a lot and very hungry. It’s all going to healing.

Protein is an Important nutritional ingredient. By volume, roughly half of your bone is comprised of protein, and you will also need to get a lot of it to reduce muscle atrophy as much as possible. If you think you are not getting enough protein consider using protein powder to supplement your daily protein intake (link), or adding protein rich food to your diet (meat, eggs, milk products, nuts & seeds).

Minerals are very important for several reasons. By weight bone is about 70% minerals. These are the building blocks of your bones. The high need for minerals will mean you might no be getting enough of them, which can cause other problems. If you are depleted in magnesium for example this may cause muscle cramps which are not much fun during a Tibial Plateau fracture. Consider using a multi-vitamin(link) containing minerals during the recovery process just to be sure. Studies have shown a lower rate of complications in healing in people taking multi-vitamins (link). The most important minerals to consume are Zinc, Copper, Calcium and Silicon.

Vitamins are the catalysts for the process of healing and are also in high need during recovery.  Vitamins that play an important role in bone healing include: Vitamin C, Vitamin K, the Vitamin B-series. Be sure to eat a varied diet and Consider using a multi-vitamin for Vitamins and minerals (link).

Anti-Infalmmatory Nutrients help reduce inflammation and pain. Bone creates a lot of inflammation which causes pain.  Unfortunately it is not advisable to take NSAID (Non Steroidal anti-inflammatory Drugs) during the bone recovery process as these slow recovery. Natural Anti inflammatory agents that may work to reduce pain include Vitmain C, Omega-3 (link) and others.

There are many foods you should avoid. Some foods will interrupt normal absorption of nutrients and their consumption should be limited. Some of these are:

  • Salt or foods prepared with lots of salt
  • More than one cup of coffee or other caffeine beverages. If possible, avoid coffee altogether.
  • Sugar
  • Chocolate (because to caffeine content)
  • Soft drinks and carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol (it inhibits calcium absorption)
  • Caffeine (it increases rate of calcium loss and inhibits absorption)

Pain

Pain is an unpleasant but normal part of recovery. You will be experiencing different types of pain and discomfort throughout your recovery. Pain might be felt in different parts of the leg, and won’t neccesarily concentrate only around the knee. Most pain comes during the first few days and weeks after the surgery. Pain management is an important part of your recovery and you should not be in constant pain. You should use pain medication as advised by your OS or hospital medical staff. If you are unable to use the medication prescribed by your doctor or are more comfortable using a different type of pain medication remember that some types of painkillers should not be taken for long periods of time(read the label!), and that you should never take NSAID as pain-killer while the bone is still healing. These types of medications will postpone healing. Brands included in the NSAID group which you should not use include Aspirin, Motrin, Ibufen, diclofenac, naproxen and others. Don’t use these. Instead use what is recommended by your medical staff or another medication that is not a NSAID. In some case, mostly in the first days you might experience more severe pain that can be treated with stronger drugs. This is normal, but if you experience abnormally strong pain or other abnormal symptoms, get yourself evacuated to a medical center as this is usually nothing but could be a sign of a complication. Make that in the first few weeks you have a bottle or box of painkillers in your pocket so that it’s always handy. Remember – liquid pain medication usually act faster then the tablet equivalent of the same brand.

Staying at home/Mental Health

You might be staying at home a lot and will be quite immobile for a while. This can get affect your mood very much and can at some point get depressing, especially if you are used to being very active. There is no magic pill for this, choose a good book, and a good TV series and try to regularly talk to as many friends, family and close people as possible. The proximity of  friends and close ones is very important. You might also want to find a community of people who have suffered from Tibial Plateau fracture before who share your experiences and feelings. There are several such communities, and some of them they can be in the further reading section of this website. Also, try to do as much exercise as you possibly can. Even if this means exercising while sitting or lying down. This can give real boost to your mood. Another good Idea is to start watching a new TV-show you’ve never had time to watch, or subscribe to online video providers like netflix or amazon prime (link). If in need, consult a psychologist or mental health professional. It is quite normal to be affected by a prolonged period of immobility and recovery, and a psychologist will be able to help with this.

Physical Activity

You will eventually probably be able to do anything you were able to do before your injury. However, this might take a long time (1 or more year for some sports) and you might have to be careful when doing extreme sports. There is a limited amount of things that you may not be able to do exactly as before, for example some yoga postures will not be possible with limited ROM, but you can always work around these limitations by doing things slightly differently. Also, you might experience some pain which will be limiting. If you want to take up a fitness activity shortly after the injury bicycling and swimming are both good options which will also help with recovery. Upper body weight training might also be a good option but will not directly advance your recovery.

Work

You Might be dying to get back to work or could be in need for a vacation. Going back to work is something that very much depends on you and on your specific job and state of mind. Some people go back to work on crutches after 4 weeks (me, for example), while others might wait a whole 6 months.  There is a good side to going back to work (aside from money) since you will be interacting with people all day long and will not be bored. The important thing to remember is that you must avoid overworking and stressing yourself out. When you go to work it is important that you leave enough time and mental energy to be able to do your physiotherapy as much as you need, to rest, to relax and to visit your medical professional. This will allow your body to recover. You might be tempted to sacrifice your physio for your career. Don’t do that. Your career will still be there when you recover, the condition of  your leg is something you will be living with forever.

Sex

There is no physical limitation from having sex as soon as the initial pain has subsided, but this injury can affect your sex life, something which you will not find a lot of information about and your doctor might not tell you. Decreased mobility in one leg and one leg which is half the strength of the other can naturally affect sex. This gets better as your leg heals and strengthens, and you will need to ask your partner to be patient as you progress through the recovery process.

On a good note

Tibial plateau Recovery takes a long time but at the end of the process you are looking at excellent recovery and usually a fully functional life.  Moreover, trying to find the good embedded in the bad, this injury can help you put things in perspective and appreciate all the things you have in life: friends, family, health, a loving spouse. It gives you an opportunity to stop and think about what matters most.

2,056 thoughts on “Recovery

  1. Hi
    I broke mine in mid August. I also broke my upper humerus at the same time! Hospital for 4 weeks until I started feeling like I was going mad then home and a bed and commode downstairs. So I’m now at the partial weight bearing stage but can’t actually put any weight on the foot as it feels like a dry sponge attached to my leg! Very weird feeling. I’m using a pedal exerciser, a frame, a teraband. I’m still wheelchair bound apart from the exercise on the frame. I can use crutches but don’t do much weight bearing whilst on them (physio instructions). I try and acknowledge the tiny achievements although it sometimes feels like there’s no sign of the light at the end of the tunnel! I’ve recently managed to get up the stairs on my bum but I can only do that when someone is with me and can’t rush it! Still, it feels like a massive achievement. I know this injury has a long recovery process but I can’t help feeling hugely frustrated and fed up that I’m not dancing about! I’m 59 and pretty fit and healthy so I’m hoping that things will start to improve soon! It’s great to read your account though, lots matched my own experience but I guess the humerus fracture just compounded the situation as I couldn’t weight bear on my arm either so the whole process is taking so much longer!

    • Hi Katy,
      Don’t give up! Yes, it is a long recovery but just follow your doctor’s instructions, do your physical therapy and rest and eat well. I had a tpf and very bruised elbow and I am now almost 2 years post-tpf and doing great. I can’t stress enough how important doing the exercises and p/t is. Keep your chin up and just take one day at a time. Keep us posted on your progress!

  2. Hello barbara mam…its so long i spoke with you…now Iam 2 years post op for Tpf..may be my plate remove will be after next year..should i continue leg physio..if i dont do..will it be a problem after plate removal if i dont continue physio..

    • Hi D. Priyanka,
      Great to hear from you!
      I was doing my physio up until the day my hardware was removed which was 9 months after my TPF accident and surgery and then I continued for another 3 months after the hardware removal, both at home and 2-3 times a week at the physical therapy center. My surgeon cleared me from physical therapy 3 months after the hardware removal and I only did some exercises at home for another few months after that. I went back to work full time one month after the hardware removal and I walk a lot to and from my job so I feel that all the walking I do has helped me tremendously. My leg feels great 99% of the time.
      Please let me know how it goes for you after the hardware removal and also, how are you doing now?

  3. Thank you so much for this information. I am now 10 weeks in and have experienced everything you’ve said down to the bout of depression. I want to thank you for helping me understand much more than my doctor has. Sometimes just basic information is all we need to get a fuller understanding. Thank you so much for sharing and I will reach out to the online communities for more support.

  4. Hi,
    I’m in my 7th week of recovery from a displaced Tibial Plateau fracture that required ORIF. I’m partial weight bearing this week and find that my knee feels like it gets “stuck”. Has anyone experienced this and will this resolve?

    • Hello, I had surgery for a level IV Tibial Plateau fracture in September. The knee getting “stuck” is likely the muscles, tendons, etc. out of whack, which is normal for this type of injury. It helped me to keep my spine very straight which took much of the pressure off the knee and allowed my body to recalibrate itself much quicker. Also, most doctors and physical therapists emphasize keeping the leg straight during initial recovery but to get rid of that “stuck” feeling, it helped for me to do some knee raises before I had to go anywhere with the walker/crutches. This warmed up the knee so it flowed much better in standing. Hope this helps. TPF is a badge of honor!

  5. I forgot to add that I will be NWB for 12 weeks, then “toe bearing” for another 4-6. The surgeon told my husband it was the worst possible fracture in the worst possible place and that it will be a “very long haul” and that within 2 years I will need a total knee replacement. Yay me!

  6. I am a very physically active 59 year old female. On 9/12/17 i was coming off my roof from cleaning up hurricane damage. Coming down the ladder I missed a rung and fell straight legged into a deep fissure where my garage and driveway meet. I ended up having 4 surgeries in 14 days, due to complications which required fasciotomy on both sides of my leg, and an external fixator. I have a Comminuted fracture of my tibia, fibula, tibial plateau and a small minor fracture to the femur. It seems for every good day, I have 2 or 3 crappy ones(pain, swelling, stiffness). I finally am starting to get a handle on all the emotional stuff. I do suspect though, that my days of being a road police officer will be coming to an end; a very hard pill to swallow.One of the hardest things now, is sleeping/resting comfortably. I never was a back sleeper. Any suggestions.

    • I also received mt TPF falling from a ladder. I am 4 wks from my initially injury. Like you I was not a back sleeper. The trick I use is to line pillows along my sides. I injured my left leg so I go from my back to my right side with a elongated pillow between my legs so I continue to maintain a neutral position through out the night. I wear my immobilizer at all times except when showering. I also take 2 Benadryls prior to bedtime ( it helps me to fall asleep and acts as an adjuvent to other pain med’s – I take Tylenol and ibuprofen currently). I am sleeping through the night for the most part, accept occasional moment or two to re-position. A full night sleep will increase your pain tolerance- so its a win-win!

    • Hi – Hang in there!! You learn to let a lot of stuff go for the duration of your recovery. Otherwise your caregivers get overworked. Not even being able to fix my own cereal for months…The ratio of milk was never perfect !! yup seems petty but you’ll find 20 of these an hour when you are immobile. Like -I’d love to turn that light off ! I survived my Tibia Plateau, also in mt 50’s and a year later have no limp. Yeah – So to answer your question – I spent 4 months in a recliner with many pillows and foam under my leg for support. Now I have cats who loved the idea of Mom staying on the Chair all night ( and day) – so when sleeping -we cut the bottom off an ice cream pail and slid that over my knee (with cushion inside) -then IF the cats did manage to step on it and not around, there was no pain to the knee – well protected. Good Luck

      • Hi Melanie, Yes I hear you. I’m in my 11th week of healing with a TPF. September 9th was that dreadful day. I tried to stop my 5 tonne bus from rolling out onto the road. DOH! My poor honey has had to do almost everything for me for the first few weeks. But it is true, every week I can do more. Sleeping was difficult, on my back for the first few weeks. Awful! Then progressed to side sleeping with a foam pillow between my legs. Yes, it is incredibly frustrating, I could even say I have had 2 or 3 times where I was depressed for a couple of days. Out of pure frustration of not being able to do anything constructive! (In my opinion) That is not normal for me. I was put on 10% partial WB 10 days ago. They tell me I’ll be full weight bare on Dec 6th!! Woohoo bring it on! The hardest part is/was accepting being immobile for so long. Especially when always so busy. Manditory stop. I too are in my 50’s. Acceptance that I can’t do what I used to has also been gained whilst recovering. Funny that we all seem to be in our 50’s don’t you think? best wishes to you all and a speedy recovery!

  7. Hi ,
    I have just read the above, and found it so helpful .
    I incurred a lateral tibial plateau fracture on the 17th Oct when my dog plus another collided into me whilst playing at full speed.
    I have not required surgery, and yesterday was seen by my consultant who is happy with my condition and says that I will only need another 3 weeks non weight bearing. To be followed by limited weight bearing.
    As my husband is currently on a much needed few days break, my daughter took me to the hospital. We both came away feeling that I would be making a fairly speedy recovery, however after reading the above, I am now not so sure.
    I have a friend who had the same injury, and she insisted that this is going to be long haul.

  8. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this info and advice together. Ive been recovering for the past 3 weeks and have some very difficult days. Thank you for helping me understand this injury and seeing the light at the end of this tunnel

  9. Hi everyone. Sorry for the multiple comments, but it seems my original comment wouldn’t post for some reason. I’m 5 months out from my original injury. I was thrown off a horse and suffered a bicondylar TPF in May 2017. I had an external fixator for 3 weeks so swelling could subside, then I had 2 plates and 9 screws placed. I was non weight bearing for 8 weeks, the released to full weight bearing at 15 weeks. I’m 19 weeks post now, and I’ve been walking unassisted for the last 3 weeks and just in those 3 weeks I have come a very long way. I’m here to tell you that it does get better. Keep the faith, keep a positive attitude, and do your physical therapy religiously. If you can’t afford PT or your insurance won’t cover it, you can find some great videos on YouTube. You can also research exercises on google. There is also a great Facebook group called Tibial Fracture Plateau recovery. It’s a great support group and someone is always around to answer any questions you might have. I still have a lot of work to do, but life is finally returning to normal for me again and I’m participating in the all my daily activities and will returning to work full time again very soon. Heal happy and well everyone!

  10. Hello, I am trying to find someone (similar to the degree of my stage 6 plus fracture) that also has a couple of plates and 14 plus screws… and wire! It’s been nearly 9 months since my surgeries and I cannot wait to have all this hardwear removed! I see my Dr. in November to discuss the removal. Has anyone similar to me had theirs removed and how long did it take to heal? How much downtime??? I haven’t been able to work all year. I filed for SSDI and was denied! I can walk, but I can ride a bike much easier. And standing or walking on it for more than a couple hours sucks! This has been a nightmare. I just want to wake up and get on with my life. feeling very frustrated….

    • Hi Susan! I had all of my hardware removed 8 months after my tpf surgery, back in December 2015. I had a plate and 7 screws. Also torn meniscus and torn ACL. Best decision ever to have the hardware removal done! My leg feels great now! I was back at work 1 month after the hardware removal. Same-day surgery and walked out of the hospital. Didn’t need a cane or crutches.
      I was out of work 9 months total, from December 7, 2015 until September 1, 2016.

      • Thank you for answering so quickly. So, I guess I will push him for the surgery in Dec. If it only takes a month to heal than it will be a full year to recovery and being able to get back to work( for me at least.) . If I would have known how bad of an injury this was going to be…..I probably would have quit skiing. I just hope I won’t always walk with a limp. Take care and God bless. Susan

    • hi, I had a plate, many screws and wire removed after 3 mos. due to a infection, they concluded I was allergic to the steel. fortunately for me, it was not a deep infection all was well. Upon removal my bones were healed but I was not full weight bearing when they removed all of it, my TPF was still in a fragile state. I was non weight bearing for a year after removal, but everything seemed better from that point on. I was only able to afford a couple PTs, but that was ok, they told me the things to do and I did them. I healed quite well and it was a pretty good break, kicked by my horse, in her defense, she was kicking at my other horse, which she does do, I was in the wrong spot, (obviously) when the metal was all in, I felt, my leg looked different, and I felt the weight in my leg, now, (3 years later) I am fine, kneeling is a little tough and rarely do that, but I can, and I have no pain that I notice. (I am not young, 57) so I can only assume my knees might have problems on their own without any injuries, and I’m so jealous when I see people hop up from a kneeling position!

    • Hey Susan. I got my metal out 1 year ago which was 1.5 years after my initial surgery. My surgery was for the worst of these fractures and I ended up with 3 plates and 17 screws plus a few staples for the ligaments that let go and/ or tore. Looking back I am not sure I would have pulled the metal now. I was back on my feet, moving well (I am not a crazy athlete but I regularly hike, bike, ski, kite ski). Running is not in the cards anymore. Anyway, I went into the surgery and was niavely optimistic. I wish someone had given me a reality check about it. I was back to couch bound and working on proprioception all over again and super down and out. Seems the first time I had the reserves to step up and work on it and stay positive. This last time I sunk pretty low and I was dredging my last speck of energy to bring my mind, body and soul back to a good place. I guess it depends on the person and the injury and I guess I just thought it fair for you to get the check-in I never got about getting the metal pulled.

  11. Hi,
    I’m now into week 10 post Op and have an infection in the wound. Bottom line is the screws (8) and plate will have to come out, surgeon says hopefully after 11-12 weeks total from op so in another week or two. My question is how will this affect my recovery from a second Op to remove the hardware? I guess I will have to wait a few weeks for the wound to heal as a start? What about my leg? Right now I am walking ( limping) without crutches and not much pain although I can’t bend my knee while walking, I have around 70 degrees ROM when sitting. Do I go back to square one and can’t walk or will I still be okay after removal? Any advice appreciated

    • I was in the same position as you, 3 years ago, plate screws and wire had to all be removed 12 wks after initial surgery, I was not weight bearing at that point, but all bones were healed. I was not able to put full weight on that leg for almost a year, about 10 months. My leg was in a more fragile state without all the steel. Why is the doctor waiting to remove it?

    • Hi Billy,

      My second surgery, to have the hardware removed, was a much faster, easier recovery. I was totally non-weight bearing for a couple of months with the first surgery. Removal surgery had me walking on my own within 4 days.

      Good luck! You will feel better with the hardware out.

    • Billy,
      I had compound fracture of the tibia, 6 screws and a plate in the left leg. I waited about 15 months before taking the hardware out. My doctor has operated on many college athletes so i trusted him and went with his plan for me. The suggestion to wait until I was nearly at full strength and have complete ROM probably helped in bouncing back quickly. It obviously depends on the person but if you can get stronger before the surgery, I think it will cut recovery time. I did not need crutches for more than a few days after the surgery and it wasn’t as painful. I was in the gym right away along with PT to strengthen the joint and I think it was due to waiting. However you will have days were the scar tissue will build up and you’ll feel immobile. I’m a year out of getting the hardware out. It was a good choice – I ran 5 miles the other day for the first time in 2.5 years. Huge hurdle! But, I cannot do it consistently because of the scar tissue build up. In summary, you should not experience a long recovery time taking it out. But make sure you put in the work immediately and often. I am confident that’s what helped me get back to the gym and healthy.

      Stay positive. I’m now 2.5 years out and I still have days were I feel pain and can’t get loose to do cardio. Its a process. Just put in the work! Good luck! – Joe

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