Pain with your TPF

Welcome Forums Community Forum Pain with your TPF

  • This topic is empty.
  • Creator
  • #511 Reply

    Nobody is the same when it comes to tolerating pain. Just like all of us have suffered a TPF, none of us have the same injury. So we can’t base our pain on what someone else is experiencing. We can learn from reading others’ experiences as far as what is or isn’t working for them. Every person experiencing this injury or any other injury is unique. We all react or respond differently. I would advise anyone wanting to know how long the pain will last to be patient. I know that isn’t much of a comforting answer, but that is all I can offer at this stage of my recovery now 7 months since my surgery.

    Even though I am a physical therapist for 17 years, I had never treated this injury, so when this happened to me I had no idea what to expect. It was difficult finding useful information on this injury until I found where I found Shlomi who is the creator of this website. And Shlomi has now put together the best site I know of devoted to TPF where we can share our experiences.

    I would advise new members of the TPF club to read the user stories here and all of the other content here to better understand what to expect. Everybody that posts their experiences can offer advice that MIGHT help someone else. But don’t compare yourself to someone else and become frustrated or concerned that you are not recovering as fast as someone else. We are all different, and our injuries are different in the severity and outcome.

    I had a LOT of pain for about a month. I spent most of my time in a wheelchair or recliner with several pillows under my leg. I was miserable. I was angry, frustrated, depressed. I wondered if I would ever be able to return to my work as a therapist. Would I ever be able to play sports with my kids again. Would I ever be able to run again? I was in very good shape when my dog broke my leg back in August 2013. I had always been active. I had completed 4 Ironman triathlons in the past. I knew what it took to get in shape and recover from injuries. But nothing in my past prepared me for what recovering from this injury would entail. I was NWB for 6 weeks, then the surgeon said the fracture was healed, and I could start WB. I went to therapy, was told to get rid of one of my crutches and put weight on the leg. I was very apprehensive and scared to put weight on my leg. My leg looked like Olive Oil’s leg, so weak and atrophied. When I put my foot on the ground I almost collapsed from the pain and weakness. The therapist immediately put me in the pool for 3 weeks before I had the strength to actually begin weight bearing on dry land. So then a whole new phase of pain had begun for me along with more frustration and uncertainty. It was a new type of pain, not as severe as right after the surgery, but still very frustrating, causing a lot of anxiety about the unknown. But as I immersed myself in the strengthening phase I saw improvements day by day, week by week.

    I hate to use cliches like ‘use it or lose it’ or ‘if you rest, you rust’ but as a therapist who has preached these to my patients for years, I can say they are true. We have to approach this injury like a full time job in the early weeks of your recovery. We have to be patient, and realize recovering from this injury will take a LONG time. I am 7 months out, and I can honestly say my leg is about 40% as strong as the other leg. My surgeon told me it may be a year or longer before I feel like I used to feel. But then he said I may never fully recover to the point where I could resume running. He said I will probably have arthritis a lot earlier than most because of the location of the fracture, and that I may need a knee replacement 5-10 years earlier than most. Not what I wanted to hear, but that is a possibility. And I have to deal with this new reality. But I try to look at the positives of this experience. Because of this injury I got to spend months with my wife and two boys, getting to know them better, and becoming closer to them. I am now a better physical therapist because now I have more empathy and credibility when I say they need to do this or that exercise if they want to return to their previous function. Don’t let this injury block out all the positives in your life. Take it day by day, and revel in the milestones of improvement no matter how small they might seem. Let your friends and loved ones know how much you appreciate their support. No one who has not had this injury can begin to understand the pain and frustration of this TPF. But be thankful for their help. I was a royal pain to be around the first month after my surgery. Because of the pain medicine, I don’t remember much of what I said to my wife and boys. But my wife often reminds me what a jerk I was. But they still love me. And that is what matters most.

    I met a fellow TPF sufferer for the first time last week. It was great to swap war stories/compare scars with him. We had a lot of similarities in our experiences as well as differences. But again everyone is different. If you were active and motivated to exercise BEFORE the injury, you will probably respond to the pain and frustration, and work harder to recover than the person who was not active and out of shape before the injury. Whatever your background before this injury was, the common denominator I have found for my continuing recovery is that it is different for everybody. If you really work hard, you will recover faster. Simple as that. When you are sitting around watching TV, on the commercials stand up and do a set of 20 squats, or 20 quad sets etc. Do something every 15-20 minutes if you are still NWB-ankle pumps, calf stretches, chair pressups etc. I admit I wasn’t as active as I should have been in the early stages of recovery as far as bending my leg, stretching my foot/ankle etc. And I paid for it later when the weight bearing began. A favorite saying I use with my patients is “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

    To sum it all up, if we want to recover faster we have to work harder than we ever did before the injury. The road to recovering is long, but it does get better day by day. We will all have peaks and valleys to suffer through, yet it all comes down to attitude. Do we REACT or do we RESPOND? Attitude determines altitude.
    Happy healing,

Viewing 4 reply threads
  • Author
    • #629 Reply

      Chris, thanks for posting, that was just what I needed right now. I’m usually in that determined warrior mode, (determined trooper, I like that Barb :)) but have been discouraged lately. But now I’m back to clenching everything ; ). I’ve been meaning to write… you asked how I was doing a while ago.
      This might not be the place for this, & it won’t be a good reply… busy at work. but I wanted to share a couple of things & ask a question while I’m at it.

      My fracture wasn’t very bad. I was given PWB way earlier than I expected.. after about 8 weeks. I couldn’t take full advantage of it, because a couple of days before my appt, I lost my balance, fell, & landed on my Voyager seated scooter, & broke a rib or 2. Not a good mix with crutches… this one has been a real challenge to my good attitude. ; ). It still hurts to breathe, but they’re better than they were.

      Oh…. I really recommend those scooters. I have one at work & one at home. I got mine on e-bay. My hands were numb all the time from the crutches.. and my shoulders were a mess too. They took a while to get used to but have been a wonderful help. They even have a basket. Just don’t fall on them!

      I see my ortho dr. this coming Tuesday & there’s a good chance I’ll be FWB after that. I start PT the following Friday. I’ll be able to see my favorite therapist, and can’t wait to start getting some definite guidelines. It’s been very frustrating to not know how much I could do & be safe. Chomping at the bit. I wish my PT would have started sooner.
      This does lead me to one question. My doctor gave me clearance to use an exercise bike when I was there last, but I didn’t have access to one until a few days ago. Do you have any idea of how much/ how often? Or what to look for indicate that I should back off? I’ve been working really hard at using one crutch… hadn’t initially because it hurt my ribs, but then I realized I couldn’t just go from either 2 crutches or a scooter to FWB without a transition! It was really hard at first but I’ve gotten used to it. But now after I use the bike.. say 10 min., longest was 15, it’s harder to walk. My legs feel shaky. And I have pain esp. in the back of my knee that sometimes nothing will resolve. I used to have it but it had stopped about a month ago. Pain I can handle. I’ve never done a tri of any length but I’ve done 3 marathons, & was injured for all of them. (am very familiar with your quote :)) But I don’t want to have a setback. Am concerned especially about the cartilage. And I know that when our legs are really tired our muscle recruitment patterns get messed up.
      So, any suggestions would be welcome.

      I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean for this to be all about me. I wish all of you the best. And thanks for your examples of keeping a good perspective, and of really cultivating genuine gratitude for all of the good things that we have. All you have to do is listen to the news to know how much we really have to be thankful for. Chris I hope you’re able to get back some of your activities…. it doesn’t seem that you need it right now, but just in case, for more perspective, a friend of mine’s (the one I mentioned when I sent those proprioceptive links) wife used to do Ironman tri’s, & now she has MS. I’ve kept her in mind when I get discouraged. We have this life, and the gift seems to be in making the very most of it that we can. And realizing the joy that’s right there.

      take care,


    • #561 Reply

      🙂 I also copied for my hubby to read! He is very supportive and praises even the smallest accomplishments. I appreciate all the posts and support of this forum, family and friends!!!

    • #530 Reply

      Hi Chris,

      Yes, and you are a lot younger, and a male (I see my hubby as a machine – he can push push push himself) so you will probably struggle with the need to ‘compete’ I guess is a good word – even if it’s just against yourself. But for me – I just want to preserve myself – seriously I don’t care if I ever do anything competitive again – I just want to be able to walk!
      On my first PT visit, he asked me so what do you want to get back to doing – ‘ultimate frisbee?’ (how I sustained the injury) NO!!!! Never again, it was just a social thing for me anyway. Where is the rewind button!!!!??
      I replied “Just WALK – will I ever be able to do that?” He looked at me like I was loopy. To him, it’s a given, of course you will. But, like you said for us it is mental – sitting where I was in a cast/ a brace and a knee that looked ‘shark bitten’ (someone in hospital asked me if that’s what happened to me as I was having sutures redressed! LOL – we are in Australia tho’)
      I just couldn’t imagine walking, let alone moving quickly in any other ‘sport’ or recreation.
      When he showed me I’d transition to the one crutch on opposite hand/arm I just burst out laughing thinking – Yea, sure that is impossible – but here I am on one crutch. Soooo, just gotta keep positive as you said.
      Take care,

    • #528 Reply

      Hi Barb,

      This injury seems to be a bear to heal from. Six years ago I had a bone infection in my other and once I was on antibiotics was a slam dunk….However the present experience seems to be a whole different story!!!! I believe it’s because it has a immense mental effect as well as physical. Normally I have a huge tolerance for pain but the issue now is I’m always afraid I’m some how reinjuring myself by pushing myself so I an very hesident about doing so.

    • #527 Reply

      HI Chris,

      Thanks for your input on this site, I have read most of our posts and they are all so helpful because of your background. I also relay a few ‘pearls’ to my PT, I’m his first TPF client. I hesitated to tell him how you did it tho’ because one day as I was leaving I asked him ‘whatcha up to this weekend?’ and he said – ‘Oh taking my dog to the dog park’. I ask what kind of dog – choc labrador (so not a small dog!) I’ve come across other people that sustained injury by a large dog – wow that is unlucky.

      Anyway, I’m going to print out this post for my husband to read. I’m sure he thinks I should be walking by now but hasn’t read anything about this injury. The fact that you are obviously a super athlete (Ironmans…PLURAL proves that) and you have found this recovery tough will help my case. ha ha I’m 18 weeks post op – TPF – external fixator/2 plates, front of knee and behind knee a broken ankle in plaster 6 weeks and nerve damage (still pins and needles from above knee down to toe – no calf coming back). I’m on 1 crutch – constant clicking and grinding and pain in knee after about 5 steps – just can’t fully weight bear.

      My PT tried something to help last week- taped the knee to give support which helped a lot. My leg since the break has always felt to me ‘twisted or not aligned right’ he applied some pressure and manipulated it as he moved leg up and down and Oh!, it felt soooo good. You know that ;it hurts so good kind of massage’?. The strapping helped me with side stepping with a slight bend in knee which caused a lot of pain.
      Anyway, I am a committed 51 year old trooper and have done over 34,000 exercises. I keep a chart because atm this is my full time job. I also ride the stationary bike each day and no pain at all doing that. I go to the pool as well can go up bottom two steps ok. I have really good ROM probably over 135. Can fully straighten leg – just can’t walk yet. I’m quite sure this nerve is affecting that – I haven’t found many others having this problem so I’m unsure. I have an appt. early May with a neurologist for testing. I do think it is slightly improving but because it happens so slowing it is just so hard to say. Anyway, just wanted to thank you for your insights.


Viewing 4 reply threads
Reply To: Pain with your TPF
Your information: