26 Oct The Truth About Recovery From Ankle Surgery
If you fracture your ankle and need ankle surgery – how long will it take before you are back on your feet and walking? Thousands of Americans every year fracture their ankles and end up needing surgery. But how do you know whether it’s fractured, how do you know if it needs surgery and how long will it take to get back on your feet and walking?
How do I know I’ve fractured my ankle?
For many people, it’s obvious if you’ve broken an ankle. There’s often a history of a slip, a trip or a sports-related fall that is followed by a cracking or popping sound of the ankle giving way. The doctors, however, will be looking for particular things on physical examination including:
- They are looking for swelling and bruising around the bony prominence of the ankle (either on the outside or inside of ankle). This bony prominence is known as the malleolus (the prominence on the outside of the leg known as the lateral malleolus. The inside of the ankle is known as the medial malleolus).
- Usually, the doctor will press on the tender areas to see if there is pain over the bony prominence. On movement, they will look out for a crackling sensation known as crepitus.
Most doctors will follow something called the Ottawa Ankle rules when assessing a potentially broken ankle. If any of the following 3 points are positive then they will usually order an X-ray of the affected ankle:
- Bony tenderness within 6cm of the medial malleolus
- Bony tenderness within 6cm of the lateral malleolus
- An inability to weight bear for more than 4 steps.
How long after surgery will I be able to walk?
The rehabilitation process is a nerve-wracking time. Often following surgery, you can feel like you are learning to walk all over again. Usually, if you have been treated at a specialist clinic, you will be seen 2 weeks after the surgery to assess the scar and make sure it’s healing. You will usually have a cast on for 6 week – at which time an X-ray will be taken to ensure the fracture has healed up before it is removed. Physio often starts at 6 weeks to build up the muscles around the ankle and stabilize it.
The question of weight bearing is one that is argued back and forth between surgeons – but recent evidence suggest that those who weight bear after 2 weeks of immobilization have better outcomes than those who don’t walk on the ankle for a whole 6 weeks. However when you get back on your feet and walking will usually depend on your surgeon’s personalized opinion on your particular case.
If you or somebody you know has fractured their ankle – get in contact with a specialist ankle surgery center that will get you back on your feet and walking as soon as possible