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.

1,884 thoughts on “Recovery

  1. Hi Everyone – I’m happy to have found this forum. I’m eight weeks into recovery. I fell directly on my right knee on 5/6 and broke my patella and also have a tibia plateau fracture. I had surgery on 5/9 and they told me they would wire the patella and put it back in place (it was dislocated) and also use hardware to repair the plateau fracture. I was in hospital for a few days post surgery and then in rehab for 3 weeks. I found out at my first followup appt with ortho that I had NO hardware installed during surgery. I guess the patella piece that was broken was down low and small, so the surgeon decided just to remove the piece and put everything back into place. And they didn’t repair the plateau fracture either – just put me in a locked Bledsoe brace and told me no bending and no weight bearing for at least 8 weeks. I had my second followup yesterday and the ortho NP has unlocked the brace to go up to 60 degrees, so my home PT will start working with that. But still no weight bearing at all. So I’m either in a wheelchair (with right leg extender) or hopping on my left leg using a walker, as I couldn’t manage crutches. My left knee and hip are really sore from overuse, but there’s nothing I can do. I’m stuck living on the first floor of our two family house (it had been vacant – I guess I was lucky our tenants had just moved out) with rented hospital furniture. I am very discouraged about how isolating this whole experience has been and I’m hoping I will get better news on my next ortho visit – which is a month away!!! I’m 65 and in good health otherwise, but realize that I probably won’t heal or recover as fast as someone in their 20’s or 30’s. Any advice would be appreciated. It’s awfully hard sleeping as the brace is so cumbersome but they tell me I need to keep it on. Thankfully, the leg isn’t too painful (of course, I haven’t really had much PT on it yet – LOL!!!) but it’s everything else that aches – my shoulders, my left leg/hip/knee, my back from the darn hospital bed etc. Anyway, it’s nice to find this group and thanks for letting me vent!!

    • Hi Peg, I feel your pain! I am 65 also. On 2/3/17 I stepped into a 2 foot deep hole and fractured the right tibial plateau. I had just had the third and final gel injection in that knee two days before. Plans were to have the knee replaced this summer if things did not improve. Boy did this throw a curve ball at my scheduling as the damage was too serious to just go ahead and replace the knee. I had surgical repair the following day with a long plate and seven screws. At the time of the injury my already replaced, but now twenty year old left knee, was badly sprained. I was unable to stand on it for two weeks and found it difficult to convince the medical staff that although it was not broken the sprain from the leg bending far beyond it previous limits had indeed done some damage. I spent 4 days in the hospital and 3 1/2 weeks in a rehab center. It was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had. Since I was mostly bedridden for the first 4 weeks and the repair was made with some hardware, after the first week I was able to remove the soft brace and bend my knee. I told everyone that I danced in my bed..I kept the flexion. Once released to home I continued with the non-weight bearing for the next three weeks but continued to bend the knee and exercise the muscles. When I returned for the 7 week check-up and release from non-weight-bearing status the surgeon said I was doing so well that all I needed was gait training. I consider myself a walking miracle. At the age of two I had rheumatic fever and the aftermath left me with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have learned from a very young age to push through the pain and keep things moving in order to have as near a normal life as possible.
      Just know that with this injury at our age, positive attitude is very important. Look at this as a bump in the road and plan the coming months as though you were never injured, within reason. I gardened from my wheelchair, shopped in a riding cart (I hated every minute) and went to if you can believe that. At the 7 week mark, while still on a walker, I took a 1500 mile roadtrip and a flight home the following week. A month later I took a round trip flight, again 1500 miles. The airlines were great about providing for my needs. I hate using a cane because I can’t move as fast as Id like but…sometimes it is needed for balance. I’d like to say at this point I am all better but that is not the case. Last night I was awakened by something new…an electric shock type nerve pain behind my knee and up to my outer thigh. I will tell you that I celebrate ever success. Later this year, after nine months of healing the surgeon said we can schedule a knee replacement. Im not looking forward to more pain but I sure do want to get my life back and be able to walk and play with my grandkids again. Good luck to you.

      • Thanks for sharing your story, Paula – and I hope you are doing well after such an awful accident and all the other underlying circumstances. I agree with your comments about trying to maintain a positive attitude. I was doing well in rehab, but the night I returned home my mom – who had Alzheimers and had been in a nursing home for 2 years – passed away and I couldn’t even get to the wake or funeral because I was unable to navigate the 6 steps into my house! Right after that, I developed a severe ear infection, which I am still battling. I made a trip to the ER for the ear, but they told me I needed to see an ENT specialist and the earliest appt I could get was 7/6. I’m on some type of ear drop by I have a lot of left side facial and ear pain and all this stuff (plus I broke a tooth!!!) really playing havoc on my emotions. I’m trying to keep as positive as possible and working part time at my job from home to keep busy and doing everything my PT says, but it’s been a tough couple of months. I will be released to 50% weight bearing in about a week and my PT says that will make a huge difference in my mobility, so once that happens I will try to make my life – as you suggest – be as “normal” as possible. It’s just that because I’m not really in my own home (but camping out in what was a vacant apt) I don’t have any of my “stuff” around and I feel very isolated at times. But I do agree with your points and you certainly have a great attitude! Best of luck with your knee replacement! I do hope it goes as smoothly for you as possible and your recovery is swift! Thanks for your encouragement!!

  2. I live in England, had a crash on my bicycle with another bicycle on 26/04/17 had to wait 2 days before I had my tibial plateau op (left leg) been NWB for 8 weeks, first 2 in a cricket brace, last 6 in an IROM brace. Wasn’t told to do any exercises apart from rotate the ankle and wiggle my toes. I got given a wheelchair but can’t use in my house so been on crutches since 01/05/17 and wheelchair if someone takes me out.
    My concern is I have hospital this coming Monday 26/6/17 and I can’t put my foot flat on floor or straighten my knee to do so, so am panicking a bit. My foot is swollen and can’t get a shoe on so I don’t know how I’m going to cope with weight on it.

    • Kaz – first of all so very sorry to hear about your injury. I am 20 weeks post TPF surgery and I can tell you when I first got to be partial weight bearing at 8 wks and then full weight bearing at 10 weeks my lower left leg, ankle and foot were very swollen and I couldn’t get a regular tennis shoe on. So, I wore an old shoe that was looser or a slipper until that came down which happened about 4-6 weeks after FWB. Your inability to put your foot flat down or straighten your knee also is not unusual considering the amount of time that you haven’t had any weight on it. That will get better with more therapy and exercises over time. You will find that this will be a long and tedious process for recovery which is why this website will come in handy to get ideas from others on how we all “survived” the dreaded TPF injury! 🙂 Take care and good luck!

      • Thank you Diane
        It’s so nice to know I’m not the only one lol…this 8 weeks has gone so quick already, think that is down to having family and friends come round to help, plus catching up with stuff on t.v
        Obviously cos foot is swollen I can’t get shoes on that foot,so I have dug out a pair of slippers and I can cut them if necessary lol.
        So how are you feeling at 20 weeks post op Diane?
        Take care and good luck to everyone on here xx

        • wish I was further along at 20 weeks post TPF surgery especially now that it’s summer here in Wisconsin and everyone is going to all the summer festivals etc. 🙁
          I’m moving along between a walker and cane but still not strong enough to do a lot of walking independently. I know that I’ve come a long way but the depression is the worst. I still have a lot of pain from the plate and numbness in my leg due to low back/sciatic nerve issues now from the months of poor posture. Saw another doctor for a second opinion on plate removal and pain and he was not pleased at how my healing of the fracture is at this point, says I should be further along. So I am referred back to my original ortho surgeon to talk about this more on Tuesday. Sure hope it doesn’t mean a second surgery and starting all over again. Anyway, hope you all are doing the best that you can and take care, God Bless!

          • So sorry to hear that you are still having problems after 20 weeks! I hope that you will keep making some progress – even if it’s a slow slog. Best of luck to you Diane!

    • Kas, I too live in the UK. You MUST ask for referal for physiotherapy. I suggest you ask the hospital doctor to do this but you can also do this via your GP. If you know where your local NHS physio dept is you can also fill in a form there to refer yourself. It’s important that you ask and push for this. It is something of a postcode lottery how good this might be in your area, so be prepared to go private if only for a few sessions to get you started with an exercise program. You need to work on extension and flexion and build up your atrophied muscles. I am two years down the line and still go to the gym each day to work on my muscle build up. Do let us know how your progress. If I can help further just let me know. Best wishes. Marilyn

    • Best of luck to you, Kaz! I will be released to 50% weight bearing next week (after 8 weeks in a brace locked in extension). I did just get released to bend my knee up to 60 degrees, but I can’t even get that far. I broke my patella as well as have a tibial plateau fracture. So I’m nervous too about walking since I know I can’t really even bend my knee very well. But my physical therapist says it will all come back in time and I have faith in her. Good luck and I hope everything goes well for you!!

  3. 3 weeks post surgery today. Seems like forever, so I remind myself it’s not that long yet. Surgical wounds healing well. Small advances in daily life that mean a lot to me: getting around house in wheelchair pretty well, sleeping well most all night and able to shift around positions in bed, looking forward to a bath transfer bench and ability to actually clean my body instead of just bath wipes. Horrible, painful cramps in calf muscles have gone away. Doing 300 straight leg lifts and leg bends to allowed bend (45) most days.

  4. Gabi – Good article & advice. Recovering from tibial plateau fracture nonsurgical. This is my 3rd month of recovery but i am FWB but told to use one crutch whether i am inside or outside plus wear brace when going out. Have good & bad days as far as pain goes. Hoping it will be healed so they can replace that knee in August. I’m 66 so wish me luck. I suffer from depression so this has not helped. I do not lick depending on other people. I wear the brace if I’m going to be on my feet a lot such as clesning the house as it cuts down on the intensity of the pain.

    • Gabi, sounds like you are progressing well for 3 months recovery. I am 4 months today since my injury, also no surgery, but I don’t think doing as well as you. It’s very frustrating to not be able to do things for yourself, even though I have support from family and friends. I am 69 and also need knee replacement, in fact my ortho feels as if I won’t be able to be FWB until I have the surgery. I am walking some with one crutch and can walk a few steps without any. I also have gone back to work, am a hairstylist, on a stool.

  5. After 12 weeks and finally given the full weight-bearing okay from my dr., I was in for a rude awakening. Even after perfect healing, no surgery needed, she said ease slowly back into walking. The swelling and pain came quickly if I over did it those first couple weeks. As recommended, I am using one crutch and it really helps to not get over tired from full weight. During recovery, I kept up with stretches and pt, but I will not hurry this phase as eager as I am to return to activities and working out.

    • Caroline, I totally feel your pain. I also had tried to rush it along with my healing after TPF on 2-6-17 and now I am paying the price with low back pain/sciatic nerve pain. So I am back to using my walker instead of mostly using a cane because of the setback. What type of injury did you have where you didn’t need surgery and able to be mobile with only one crutch? I’m just curious as to what others have and how they’re recovering. Be patient, take care and keep in touch here please

  6. Thanks for your comments, I am 70 and never had a fracture, 6 weeks in with no surgery. Knee looks like a soft ball starting load bearing today thanks Tom

  7. Dude this is so cool. I broke my tibia, and shattered my ankle skateboarding. I’m happy to hear I’m not alone. Two weeks have passed since my accident and I’m already pretty fml, even though I’m not that kinda guy.

    • Hang in there, Bryan! No matter what your normal disposition, this injury can cause depression and serious mental and emotional struggle. It does help knowing you’re not alone, and you can use this forum to vent, ask questions, etc. I went through periodic bouts of the blues, and even though I can look back now and see how far I’ve come I still have moments where I get frustrated or down (and it’s been nearly 6 months!). But there is light at the end of the tunnel!

  8. Hello, 9 weeks ago I had a bicycle accident and suffered a dislocated tibial plateau fracture left leg. Surgical repair with plate, screws, and something regarding cadaver bone. I am NWB and last week graduated from a wheelchair to crutches and I could drive again. All in all I believe I am physically healing well.

    Mentally is a whole different story… Patience I am told over and over. I miss hiking, biking, working in the yard, going to the grocery store, taking my dog for walks, not to mention those normal everyday things. And then there’s going to work. Short term disability is hit and miss. can’t pay bills ( mental freak out) The mental is what kills my spirit.

    This injury is bad I get it. takes time. but what do you do about work?? they expect everyone to heal in less than 12 weeks. I work in high paced on your feet 8+ hours a day manufacturing . Which is a bit difficult to do when you are NWB. So anyone thoughts? FMLA runs out at 12 weeks..now what?

    • so sorry to here about your accident Elisa. I’ve been off work for 4 1/2 months now and probably 1-2 more at least and I have a 50% sitting job so I can sympathize with your situation. I would talk with your supervisor about what they have to offer. Some employers have a “hardship fund” etc. I was fortunate enough to be able to collect early social security through the state but you could also call them to see if there is any temporary disability benefits. Mentally you have to set your mind that for probably the next year things will be different as to what you can do. When you get further along with your recovery you will notice the things that you accomplish each month that you couldn’t do the month before and that will help with the long time period. I, too, am missing playing with my 3 small grandchildren like I used to be able to do. Use this website to keep up with others too and you will see by some of these stories like I did that unfortunate as you may feel someone else always has it worse. Take care, keep your chin up, and stay in touch.

  9. Hi,i had surgery 8 months ago on Tibila Plateau,im going to physio but my leg is not past 90 degrees yet,is this normal as im a bit worried.

    • Michael, I haven’t had a ROM problem but I know some others on here that had been “stuck” at a certain point for a couple months and then were able to move forward. What does your Therapist or Doctor say about it? Let us know and maybe some others can offer you their advice or story. Take care and Good Luck!

    • I had complex tibia fracture and tibial plateu fracture , this all happened while away on a trip in California. external fixators on day of skating accident..(39 year old male) march 8 2017, second surgery on april 5 2017 involved installing 4 plates around my tibia. On friday 6.16 saw doctor (orthopedic) who i chose to follow up with back in Miami he said still non weight bearing at least 12 more weeks? Can barely get past 60 degrees on knee bend on my own, with physical therapist can get to around 70 degrees when she pushes down on it. Very concerned on the comment of 8 months past surgery and you still cant get go 90? This is extremely frustrating, somebody please commet

      • I had comminuted (shattered into small pieces) fracture tibial plateau (left) and fracture of tibia (left) near the ankle on 5/21/16. Had screws and plates the night of the accident, 3 nights in hospital and 3 months in a rehab facility. Ugh. Finally got home at the end of August. When I got home I could get my knee to about 60 degrees and PT could get it to about 90 degrees but with a lot of pain – for me and her!!!!! I started PT three times a week at an out patient rehab facility but bending did not improve. So in October I had a manipulation under anesthesia. Initially that helped and got knee to 105 degrees with help from PT but because of family issues necessitating overseas travel for a prolonged period, I very quickly lost ROM. In April this year I had a follow up appointment with a different orthopedic surgeon – my new health insurance plan does not offer out of network and I had the accident out of network. The surgeon who did the repair on 5/21/16 recommended this new guy and he also was highly recommended by Stryker (my screws and plates are Stryker and I used to work there). The new guy suggested arthroscopy to cut out scar tissue – said it was too late to do another MUA. So, on June 12th that was done under general anesthesia and he told me he removed scar tissue and cartilage and repaired 2 meniscal tears which I didn’t know I had! Back to PT 3 times a week and PT got my knee to 93 on Friday but yesterday – after the weekend but I did do bending exercises and I am using a knee CPM for at least 4 hours a day – I had lost some range of motion. My knee, calf and ankle still swell and the surgeon says this is normal and could last for several years. He said I had a devastating injury and it is going to take a long time. I see him for follow up on June 27th and I have a lot of questions for him. I am very disheartened as I really thought my knee would feel different after the arthroscopy. I still walk with a pronounced limp and my knee feels as if it is full of glue. I miss golf, walking, cycling and just being able to do the usual ADLs. I chose to retire early (60) and the accident happened 5 months later – this is not how envisaged my life to be.

        • Christina – I’m so very sorry to hear about your injury and it sounds like you have been through hell in the past year! I believe that this injury is so mentally disabling as much as physical. Just when you think things are improving there’s a setback. I am 4 1/2 months post TPF surgery and experiencing a setback currently with low back pain and sciatic nerve pain due to my poor posture for over 4 months now while I am trying to ambulate around the pain caused by my plate. Please feel free to use this website to ask questions, get tips, vent/cry etc. with others in similar positions as you. Take care and God Bless

    • Michael and Jaime,

      I was stuck at 90 until 4.5 months post op. I was NWB for nearly 4 months, which didn’t help. My surgeon had threatened at 5 months to do MUA, but I was 110-115 at that point so MUA was pointless. I finally at 5.5 months measured 120! My PT doctor says she has seen people continue to gain range of motion as far as 1.5 years post op, especially if they have hardware removal. So there is hope! Keep in mind that extension is critical–you have to fight to get that knee to as close to 0, or beyond, as possible. While there are things a doctor can do to help with flexion, like Christina mentioned, there is no procedure to increase extension! I was so focused on getting my knee to bend that I started losing extension and had to fight (painfully) to get back to 0! Just hang in there, research your options, talk to your doctor, and do your exercises!

      All the best in your recoveries!

  10. 5/13 I feel off a dry docked boat and have a left leg tibial plateau fracture and a right calcaneal fracture (heel). I had the external fixator for a week or two then second surgery to repair bone. Plates and screws put in. So I am NWB on both legs. Was in the hospital 19 days. This Thursday I’ve been home 2 weeks. I go to the doctor again the day after tomorrow.

    • so sorry to hear about your injuries Tracy. Sounds like you may have a long road of healing ahead of you but keep your chin up and stay connected with others in your same position on this website. You will find it helpful in many ways along your journey. Good luck and God bless

    • OMG Tracy I can completely relate to your story. 0n 6/8/17 I was 2 weeks post op on a right toe fusion-NWB til 6/30, when I fell crutching down stairs and got my left tibial plateau fracture. After 4 days of horrifying stories of my husband trying to get me in and out of cars to hospitals and Drs, I had surgery on 6/12. Hospital for 3 days, yesterday-6/15-got into a rehab hospital. I find pain to not be a big issue until today when I found I pulled something in a chest muscle that I am so afraid that will keep me form getting out of this bed. I think it must be hard for anyone without a leg to stand on-lol-to relate to what it is like sitting in bed, completely dependent on others for all your needs, the worse one being the most basic-going to the bathroom. I find myself not drinking fluids or eating much because I hate a bed pan, so I am getting worried about infection. How did that work out for you? Now that I am here, I think I can get help to the commode, and more time out of bed in a wheelchair, so I am hopeful that I will stop feeling quite so helpless. I am luckier than you, I think. on 6/30 the cast comes off my right foot and I will be FWB in a walking boot for 6 weeks. How have you been coping at home? Are you WB at all one the right foot yet?

  11. Thank you for that that was very very helpful and informative I’m having surgery in a few days for very complex tibial Plateau fracture several different places. I’ve been really anxious and kind of depressed about this surgery coming up in the downtime but your article has given me some ideas and some ways to deal with that and it has helped with my apprehensions andI’m feeling more at ease with this surgery that’s coming up so thank you very much I appreciate everything you said.

  12. I shattered my tibial plateau and broke the tibia laterally on 3/17. The next day my surgeon installed an external fixator from my upper thigh to just above my ankle. This was to allow soft tissue to heal before the internal surgery. After 2 1/2 weeks the fixator was removed and I received two plates, a large one on the medial side of my knee and a smaller one on the outer side of the knee. I have been NWB for three months since the second surgery (about three weeks to go). One big problem I had was nerve pain in the skin, but that has now subsided. I am off all pain meds including Tylenol. I have two questions: 1. Does pain increase significantly when weight bearing is allowed? 2. Many people mentioned how helpful swimming/water walking was. Were you allowed to do this while you were still NWB? Thank you.

    • Sandy,

      I was NWB for 14 weeks. Sometime around week 10 I started exercising in a pool, to include walking in 4ft water so it was supporting most of my weight, and I held onto the edge of the pool on my bad side. I believe pool walking helped me better transition to WB. Like you, I was off all meds early into my recovery. I did have some pain when I started WB, but didn’t really need meds. Elevation and ice will be your best friends due to swelling. You’ll discover your muscles are shot, so I had some muscle soreness and used Ben-Gay to help with that. I think I have taken Tylenol 2x in the past 4 months, and once was for a headache! Still no NSAIDs; although it’s probably safe now I still don’t want to chance it. I hope this info helps you and I wish you all the best in recovery!

  13. Hello! I broke my left tibial plateau on 6/8. I fell going down the stairs on crutches because I am NWB on my right foot due to surgery. So now I am NWB on both. I am having surgery 6/12 for my knee. My cast will come off my right foot 6/30 and I will be put in a walking boot for 6 weeks. Do they usually put you in a cast after knee surgery? Has anyone else had to deal with being NWB on both? If so, I would love to know of any tips and tricks.

    • Hi Janet,
      Sorry to hear about your injuries!! I had a TPF with torn meniscus, torn ACL and torn MCL back in December of 2015. I had surgery 5 days later. The surgeon put s plate and 7 screws in. I was not in a cast; my leg was bandaged with a wrap from the ankles to the thigh. After 2 weeks, the stitches were removed and I had steri-strips placed where the stitches were. They eventually fell off. I am not sure if other people were put in casts with this type of surgery. I would doubt it, though, because it is necessary to bend the knee shortly after surgery so as to get good ROM. Many of the exercises that are involved with your recovery involve bending the knee.
      I hope this was helpful to you. Please keep us posted.

      • My leg was s swollen and my skin took on a reptilian look! So it would probably have been dangerous to have it in a cast ( even a below the knee cast ) I had a wrap around foam protector which had metal rods slotted into it .I took it off at night .

      • I was put in a plaster cast from upper thigh to toes. This was left in place for some 6 weeks after surgery. A section was cut out to remove sutchers after 2 weeks and then re-plastered. So ROM for me did not begin till some seven weeks after my injury. I asked about PT and my surgeons responce was “what do you want that for “. I went home and looked online for pertinant exercises. I have excellent bending (135) but extension could be better (3).

    • I had a splint on the first 2 weeks and then a brace that was movable for ROM but I didn’t use it often because I had a lot of swelling at that time and it hurt to wear it. I agree that you most likely would not have a cast after knee surgery because of the importance of bending it right away. Good Luck Janet with you surgery and recovery and keep us updated with how you’re doing. 🙂

    • I would like to know also about NWB on both. I did not have a cast, they left it open, covered with bandage and a brace for more mobility.

  14. Hello everyone, I was wondering if anyone here has tried dry needling and/or cupping? And do you feel like it helped with the mobility, stiffness and muscle spasms at all?

    • Yes dry needling 3 times, last time tens unit hooked up. WORKS, my sciatic was horrible couldn’t sleep, in pain constantly. I still have times with it but I would have it if I was you.

      • Vicki, when did your sciatic start hurting? I am 19 weeks post surgery and feel like I have developed sciatic pain. Not sure if this is normal at this point or if I strained it. All I know is that it hurts a lot and I haven’t slept for 3 nights. Any hints on what to do for relief besides dry needling? Thanks and take care

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