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6 weeks back I managed to break my ankle.  I broke the fibula right above the ankle bone, a very long break that resulted in torn ligaments.  I got the cast off earlier this week and it still hurts like all hell (I still have issues walking and functioning) but according to the doctor it's healing remarkably fast.  Right now I've invested in a brace to help keep it stable that I wear on a daily basis.  The crunchy, rubber feeling is very unnerving as the disconnected sensation of the broken bone is still quite fresh in my mind.

My question is if there's any advice to improve healing and any exercises I should do on a daily basis.  The doctor wants me to go to physical therapy but as it is, I have trouble affording to feed myself due to lack of employment and the medical costs alone have seriously put me in the hole.  When it comes to choosing between feeding myself and dishing out cash on physical therapy appointments, I'll go for putting food in my mouth.  I've already done a good chunk of research (the % of injuring my ankle again scares me, this is the most pain I've ever been in and I already have daily pain in both knees, I don't need ankle issues as well), I'm just seeing if there's anything else I can learn outside of google searches.

Many thanks!! :)


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 2nd, 2008 08:23 am (UTC)
I severely sprained my ankle back in September and was told it could take a year or longer to fully heal. I found that the thing that worked best for me was spending a lot of time upside down. You don't necessarily have to go all out and do headstands like I was, but simply laying on your back and putting your legs up the wall and REALLY elevating your foot over your heart will do wonders. I'd spend as much time as you feel like doing this every day.
May. 2nd, 2008 11:19 am (UTC)
When I broke my foot a few years back and was in a cast and non weight bearing for quite some time, I had the same rubbery sensation once I could walk again. Just walking helped to build some strength but to increase mobility in my ankle I was told to write the alphabet with my foot. I did this multiple times a day. It really does take you through the full range of motion. Maybe that may help.
May. 2nd, 2008 01:17 pm (UTC)
See if you can get ahold of some of that stretchy theraband stuff..


You want to strengthen the muscles and ligaments in your ankle to give you more support, which will in turn help you keep that ankle from turning if/when you are on uneven ground, etc. What I did with the theraband was work my ankle from all 4 sides. Wrap it under the ball of your foot and pull up on the band, and then point your toe/foot against the resistance. Then do it from each side (moving your foot to the side against the resistance), and from the top (flexing against the resistance). I had to use a bedpost to help get the resistance on one side and from the top. But these are very gentle strengthening exercises that got my ankle back into shape very quickly, and you can work up through the band strengths as you get stronger. Also, standing on a pillow on that foot and working your balance on it; try to stand as long as possible on that foot...but make sure you have a chair or something to grab onto. Then work up to a couch cushion (on the floor), then maybe a mattress. You wouldn't think it, but this really works the muscles in that ankle in all the little shifts you make to keep your balance. Also search for any foot ankle exercises once you are up to it, because the stronger and more flexible that ankle gets, the less chance you have of breaking it from a wrong step off the curb or something.

I was told to soak my ankle in hot water every night and move it around as much as possible while soaking to keep the mobility.

I am NOT a PT, but these gentle exercises have helped me tremendously (and were given to me by a PT).
May. 2nd, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
Good luck.
I second these suggestions. I had the most severe sprain you can get in an ankle (which may be worse than breaking it) and the made me do these things in therapy (thanking everything I had health insurance) as well as holding on to the wall, and doing some wall leans, then bending the knees slightly in the same position and doing some wall leans. I would start with 6 and work up to a few sets of 10 as you get stronger. Also, I held onto a counter and did heel raises. Those are terrible. But do some anyway. They will get better. When those get alright, stay at the counter and try to balance on your one foot for 5 seconds. Don't be discouraged, they will be nearly impossible for a while.

Also, don't forget to do both sides!! This will help with balance. I had problems with balance anyway, and this is something that you will find really important.

They also had me ride a stationary bike, because the muscles in your thighs will also have atrophyed some.

Ice for 10 minutes after doing these exercises.

(Also, not a PT. Just be careful when you do things for a while. I also used one of those boot stabilizers with metal on each side of the ankle and it laced up. It will fit inside of your shoe. Use this when walking. And find a pair of shoes to wear in the house for a while. Weight bearing is important...and this will decrease some of the sensation while walking until it gets better. BUT, if it doesn't in a week or so, go back for a checkup.)
May. 3rd, 2008 12:09 am (UTC)
Oh, I adore those. My dad used one from his PT after he suffered a severe shoulder injury (it healed remarkably well in eight months, and the band helped). He gave it to me last November. My right knee tends to misalign occasionally, and my cerebral palsy causes my ankles to wrench sometimes if I don't step carefully. That theraband thingy is a godsend. My ankles have gotten much stronger since November.
May. 2nd, 2008 01:26 pm (UTC)
This probably isn't what you want to hear, but when I broke my ankle, I went to a physical therapist (at the time I was car-less and in a city with poor public transportation) at my university, which my insurance would not cover. However, I was honest with them when I made the appointment and when I went, and told them I couldn't afford more than one session. They gave me a bunch of exercises and an exercise plan as well as some big rubber band-like things, stuff I could do at home. Although I still have pain regularly, I was able to get about 85% of my movement back. It was worth every cent, because I was not only able to learn the exercises, but have someone check to make sure I was doing them right. Unfortunately, I don't remember any of the exercises, as that was a long time ago.

I would recommend that you look for a physical therapy program if you have a university near you that might have a sliding scale, or that you make an appointment with an understanding clinic and emphasize you can only afford one session. You may only need one session to go over the exercises, and if that $200 appointment means a possible 10% increase in movement, I would go for it.
May. 2nd, 2008 01:27 pm (UTC)
I agree with the above. I broke my ankle December 10th and it needed a plate. I am still having to do exercises. It also still swells daily after walking. You have to elevate it in the evening. My PT also said to put an ace bandage on it at night if it was really bad. You can put an ice pack over the bandage for 20 minutes at a time. This will help also. Unfortunately you have to have a lot of patience. The healing does not happen over night.
Good luck!
May. 2nd, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
I agree with the others. If at all possible try at least to get to one session. I had a severe sprain two years ago and didn't go to PT for a long time, until it was just too painful too much of the time. It really helped and allowed me a much greater range of motion. But to have full disclosure, even with PT my ankle still swells and gets tight (2 yrs later), I always know if it is going to rain too.

If it isn't possible to get to PT the exercises threekidslinky said are great and so is writing the alphabet with your foot. Keep your foot elevated.

Good luck!
May. 2nd, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC)
A strong third/fourth/whatever on the alphabet exercises. Do them both sides and do them forwards and backwards. Use your ankle as much as possible. The more you keep it immobile the less chance it has of healing properly.
May. 2nd, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
*Hugs* I broke both bones in my leg/ankle in June of 06...Fell off a curb while carrying my then 4 month old daughter.
I broke the smaller bone in a spiral fracture up high on my calf and the weight bearing bone when I came down with all my weight on top my ankle up against the curb. I broke the ball part of the bone OFF in my ankle. Landed upright though and didn't hurt or even scare my baby. hah
I totally feel for you. I had 4 pins reattaching the ligaments and the bone to itself...and I still have hardware in my ankle.
So the physical therapy exercises I did were mostly things like rolling my ankle, arching my foot as far forward as I could and then lifting it back up, rolling it from side to side while planted on the floor (standing), grabbing my toes and stretching it back as far as I could etc.
Just basically, stretching the range of motion out as much as possible. Nearly two years out, my ankle STILL hurts when the weather changes and stuff but I have about 95% of my original range of motion back. If only I could lose the rest of this weight I gained during the 4 months I spent in casts lol
Good luck!
May. 2nd, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
Also, if you can get a good ankle brace, you really need to wear it for a few months at least. I still have mine and wear it on occasion when I know I'm going to have to be on my feet for an extended period of time.
May. 6th, 2008 10:15 am (UTC)
I managed to break both bones in my right ankle a few years ago (and then not realise for two days so I walked around on them for a while causing some displacement...) and now I've got pins in one side and a plate down the other. The exercise that helped the most was one recommended by the physiotherapist after I got the plaster off... take a tea towel and put your heel on one corner and then use the ball of the foot to move the tea towel across while keeping your heel on the corner. Exercise is very important though, but as an encouragement it shouldn't stop you from doing things in the future - in spite of all the metal in there I've just done five days of hill walking and apart from a bit of discomfort on the downhill sections the only problem I really had was that I had to put a plaster across my ankle because my new walking boot rubbed on one of the screws holding the plate in place and caused a blister! All the physio exercises also strengthened my ankles enough that things like one-legged balance in yoga, which I used to find quite difficult, are now much easier.
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