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  #1  
Old 03/07/10, 10:36 PM
 
Join Date: May 2002
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Remove the screws from ankle, or not?

I'm asking this for my sister, who doesn't have internet access. She broke her ankle last June, and had a plate and screws put into the bone to stabilize it. The ortho surgeon told her she 'could come back and have the screws removed' but she's afraid to, for fear it will be as painful as it was when first broken, and that she won't be able to stand or walk on it for a time. The surgeon told her she didn't need physical therapy after healing, and now walks with a slight limp. She would like to get to the point where she doesn't have pain all the time, can wear something besides hiking boots (which seem to give her some support and stability), and to be able to get down on her knees and back up again, which she can't do right now. I told her I'd ask if anyone had experience with having them removed after a break, and if it made a difference? Pros and cons of leaving the screws in or removing them? Thanks, Jan in Co

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  #2  
Old 03/07/10, 10:42 PM
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Location: Oregon
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I had the screws and plates in mine removed because I found that in the winter, the metal seemed to absorb the cold and then my ankle would ache something horrible! Some of the metal was rubbing on something inside also. It felt SO much better after removal!!! Tell your sister that it doesn't hurt at all afterwards. You only have the little incisions that they make to get it all out. I was surprised how BIG the screws were!!!

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  #3  
Old 03/07/10, 11:06 PM
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Idaho
Posts: 4,332

I didn't have a plate but I had a screw plus a pin inside a bone. The doctor said there was a good chance of bending the screw that went thru both bones, so he removed it. Then later, he also removed the pin. It was a fast and painless operation, and interesting to watch. Bone work is about 60% carpentry from what I saw. They will give you the hardware for a souvenir, just ask.

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  #4  
Old 03/07/10, 11:11 PM
 
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Thanks, both of you! I forgot to ask if it required general anesthesia to remove the screws, or was it done under a local? Thanks, Jan in Co

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  #5  
Old 03/08/10, 06:08 AM
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Idaho
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I had local for each piece they removed. I get sick coming out of general, and they were little operations, and I like to lean over and watch.

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  #6  
Old 03/08/10, 07:27 AM
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 830

In 2005, I broke two bones in my ankle and had emergency surgery
to insert a bar and 8 screws. After 12 months, I decided the metal needed to be removed.
I experienced the same as COSunflower. I would step and
it felt like something was metal to metal. It hurt!

Other than an infection at the incision site, I didn't have a major
problem afterward....little discomfort....no assistance required
to walk. I don't recall that I even took pain meds. In my case,
it was NOT simple enough to accomplish with a local. I"m sure
each case is different but I'm very glad I had the metal removed.

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  #7  
Old 03/08/10, 08:02 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Alabama
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Both my husband and son had their plates and screws removed, and both of them have less pain after the removal. My husbands was in his leg, and after the plates and screws were removed his limp went away. My son's was in his arm and removal of the plate gave him more freedom of movement in his arm. Neither one of them had much pain with the surgery for removal, and said it wasn't any worse than getting a tooth filled.
Dawn

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  #8  
Old 03/08/10, 08:04 AM
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Mid-Michigan
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My dh broke his leg in '90, he had a plate and screws. In '93 (when we finally got insurance) he had them removed. It was done under general anesthesia, and was pretty quick. He was on crutches for a day or two afterward, but that was it. I don't remember him really being in any pain from it.

I do remember removing his stitches a week or so later. We had just moved and didn't want to drive all the way back to the dr. to have him remove them, so I did it with a pair of tweezers and nail clippers.

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  #9  
Old 03/08/10, 08:26 AM
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 3,915

My hardware was in my wrist rather than in my ankle, but it became a source of almost continuous pain and had to be removed. The surgery was done with a general anasthesia in my case because of other complications. It was an easy recovery though.

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  #10  
Old 03/08/10, 08:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan in CO View Post
I'm asking this for my sister, who doesn't have internet access. She broke her ankle last June, and had a plate and screws put into the bone to stabilize it. The ortho surgeon told her she 'could come back and have the screws removed' but she's afraid to, for fear it will be as painful as it was when first broken, and that she won't be able to stand or walk on it for a time. The surgeon told her she didn't need physical therapy after healing, and now walks with a slight limp. She would like to get to the point where she doesn't have pain all the time, can wear something besides hiking boots (which seem to give her some support and stability), and to be able to get down on her knees and back up again, which she can't do right now. I told her I'd ask if anyone had experience with having them removed after a break, and if it made a difference? Pros and cons of leaving the screws in or removing them? Thanks, Jan in Co
i had the exact same break, except on both bones. the doctor told me i could choose to have them out. but he also said there was no need if there was no problem.

as far as a re-break he said the repaired bone was now stronger than the original bone.

i also kept wrapping it with ace wrap and wearing boots but the doctor told me that it wasn't necessary and also made the ankle even weaker because it wasn't being exercised by being used in my day to day life. maybe if she quits giving it extra support and just does her usual activities she will regain strength and not limp any more.

i too felt the cold for the first few years but eventually enough tissue grew over it that i don't feel it any more.

it does take major surgery to remove it. imo, it's an excuse for them to collect another big fat surgery bill.
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  #11  
Old 03/08/10, 09:29 AM
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Central Texas
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Quote:
maybe if she quits giving it extra support and just does her usual activities she will regain strength and not limp any more.
I continue to have problems with limping due to a very tight tendon in
that leg. It takes a lot of daily stretching and exercises to help. The
orthopedist suggested that surgery might be necessary to lengthen
the achilles tendon. That was not an option I considered!
Along with the exercises, I use the inversion table which provides a
great stretch. I get off the table and no limping!
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  #12  
Old 03/08/10, 10:25 AM
kygreendream
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Western KY
Posts: 340

After 4 years of still having screws and pins in my ankle i have daily pain and swelling. I dont know if i had them removed if it would help but i can sympathize because i am having same issues. This problem is keeping me from going to nursing school because after 4 hours on my feet i have intense pain and swelling.

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  #13  
Old 03/10/10, 01:05 PM
 
Join Date: May 2002
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I've passed on your comments and suggestions to my sister. She's an RN and afraid she'll be back in a wheel chair after having the screws removed, but I think your experiences have convinced her to have them out. Ky--I think if nursing school is important enough, it's worth it to have them removed. You have the benefit of all these other folks' experience with it, now too. Go for it! Jan in Co

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  #14  
Old 03/10/10, 01:16 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 1,792

I broke all three bones in my ankle last May. I didn't even know there was three bones in there! I have a plate (with 5 screws attaching it) and 3 screws in the bones. I haven't even considered removing them.....guess I never thought about it. Doc didn't get a chance to talk to me about it because I was a bad girl and didn't go back to the doc after I got my cast off! To much work to do!

DH broke his leg around 10 years ago and has a titanium rod and several screws. His Doc at the time told him the could remove it but that his leg could easily break after that. The bone would never be as strong as it was. He chose to leave it in cause he is a rough and tumbly sort of fella and sure as can be he would break it again. He does have some pain from time to time but nothing life altering.

All of that to say I just don't know. Personally unless me plate and screws just started causing extreme pain I would pass on them cutting me open again. That was NOT fun! I have had problems with the screws on one side since I lost some weight because my ankle slimmed down and now the screw head sticks out a bit more. I just have to be really selective on my shoes. I wear my lace-up boots whenever possible because my ankle does like to roll.

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  #15  
Old 03/10/10, 01:20 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Arkansas
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Also wanted to add that my ankle movement is limited. I can not run because it doesn't bend. Well, I can run but I look like a peg legged pirate!

I guess if I wasn't such a weenie and so scared of it breaking again I would probably have them taken out. But I am a weenie. And very clumsy!

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  #16  
Old 03/10/10, 01:35 PM
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: New Jermany
Posts: 569

I have a Tibia 'nail' fixation w/ three screws. When I had just recovered, a friend told me that I had to have it all removed after a year so the bone would become stronger. I talked w/ the Orthopedic and he indicated that it would strengthen with or without removing the hardwear and he only recomended removals that interfeared w/ movement like in an ankle.

I have a copy of the report from the operation [I was away from home] that I was supposed to give to the local Ortho but he only looked at the digital x-rays and wouldn't take it. It describes how the 'reamed' inside my tibia and drove the 'nail' in place by hammering it w/ a mallot...it can stay where it is!

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