Me and my IM Nail Part 3 (4mths since the op)

<<< Me & my IM Nail Part 2 (3mths on)

Me & my IM Nail Part 4 (5mths on) >>>

Since the last update a month ago I don’t feel like I have made as much progress as I should have or maybe hoped for. When I was initially told there would be a 6 months recovery period, I really thought I would be able to beat that, but it seems I am exactly on track to meet that timeframe.

I’ve been a little disappointed with myself as there were a couple of weeks this month where I could have tried harder. Work and life meant I wasn’t able to get to the gym like I wanted to do, but even so I could have done more physio at home. However, reflecting on this now I realise I have been pushing consistently hard recovery-wise for over 3 months, so having 2 weeks where I wasn’t 100% focused on it was probably a good thing.

I won't be visiting here for another 4mths

I still have my limp, which I really hope would have gone by now, but it is much less pronounced than it was before and I can walk long distances (45mins plus) without it causing discomfort. So I know the limp is due to disappear soon, I just have to keep at the physio and going to the gym to build up the muscles.

Since the last update I have also been back to the hospital for another check up and the consultant is very happy with how I am healing with the IM nail. He even suggested I could probably start having a go on the treadmill. My physio has not suggested this so I was a bit sceptical but felt positive after the visit.

I hate waiting! It's normally over an hour for the X-Ray and then another hour for the consultant

I met up with a guy I work with from time to time who had broken his leg 18mths ago, but I didn’t realise he had an IM nail put in too. It was really good to quiz him about his experiences. The first thing you will be pleased to hear is that he is about to run a marathon in the next couple of weeks.

He is into his running and told me he pushed too hard when recovering and this actually set his whole recovery back by over a month. He was advised when able to start running again to start with 5mins and then to build it up one minute at a time. However, after a few goes he felt good and ignored the advice and ran a bit longer and then did a 40mins run but after that he couldn’t run again for a few days as it would be very painful and sore.

I went to the gym 3 times last week and felt good about that, particularly as last Monday I went on the treadmill to jog for the first time. That felt very weird! As you are not sure how your leg will perform. I took it very easy and did a 5mins jog at very slow speed. I was able to do it, which was good, but still ran with a bit of limp and was unsure whether that was right or not?

The observant of you will have noticed that the person above is not me ... I have better, but hairier legs

On Wednesday I jogged for 6mins at a slighter faster speed and then 7mins on Friday going slightly faster again. I haven’t felt any bad after effects from doing this and so can continue with confidence.

My physio gave me a new, stronger rubber sexual aid (Green) to continue with the ankle exercises which I have to be honest and say I have not really been doing, even though I do keep them near me when watching TV at home. The physio has also got me standing up and down on tip toes and standing on just my left leg (the bad one). I’ve been doing a lot of these as it is very easy to fit into normal life … whilst brushing teeth, making a cup of tea, waiting for a bus/train, etc.

Standing on one leg helps to build up strength and although I could do this before the physio asked me, I was very wobbly and it was hard to balance. Whereas now I can do it with my hands in my pockets without needing to put my arms out to balance. It’s not as good as my right leg, of course, and it still wobbles a bit (the muscles around the ankle and knee move about to maintain the stability of the leg).

Standing on tip toes is something  I’ve been able to do for ages, but a month ago I tried walking on tip toes and that was a very different story. I could barely manage it and it was similar to when I first started walking, or rather hobbling. A month later and I can now walk on tip toes better, but with a major limp.

The guy I worked with also recommended that I keep up with the rubber sex aids as when he was able to start running he gave up on the ankle exercises, but wished he’d continued.

I haven’t reached my goal of losing my limp, but have jogged on the treadmill for 7mins which is ahead of what I thought I would be doing. So I hope by the next update the limp will have gone and I will have jogged for at least 20mins on Clapham Common.

I also still have the bruise from where the tibia broke which I think is also a reminder that as much as you can push your physio and exercises, you can’t speed up how quickly your bone heals.

<<< Me and my IM Nail Part 1 (2mths since the op)

<<< Me & my IM Nail Part 2 (3mths on)

Me & my IM Nail Part 4 (5mths on) >>>

26 responses to “Me and my IM Nail Part 3 (4mths since the op)

  • katie

    I broke my tibia and fibula too this winter (middle of Feb), and had the nifty nail implanted. I’m still hobbling pretty badly, and hoping to be walking decent distances soon.

    Its good to hear you’ve been recovering! But I’m a tad peeved with my docs who have been giving me contradictory information on recovery time (I was told everything from weight bearing immediately after surgery to 4 months before weight bearing).

    Now hopefully I can run a bit at 4 months too…

  • Jon Sellors

    Very intersting to read how someone else has got on recovering from this procedure. I broke my tibia in 2 places and my fibula once after an accident playing football in March. Had the op on the Mon 2 days after the break and was amazed how good, if a little swolen and purple, my leg was. After a 15 min test drive on the crutches I was allowed home on the Weds. It was tough going for the first week but after that progress has been going great and now 12 weeks on I have returned to work. It’s still early days as regarding my physio but every day I feel an improvement and am still hopeful of playing footy again at some point next season even at 37. I am really glad I you have put this together as it is very interesting seeing how other people cope with this ordeal.

  • Sue Rogers

    Hi Jake,

    I broke my tibia in August whilst on holiday in Devon. I fell on the coastal path near Branscomb and had to be airlifted to Exeter hospital by helicopter! I know it’s a great story to tell but I’m really fed up with the whole thing now :0) I just wish I’d found your blog earlier. As you correctly state there’s not much info out there about recovery after an IM nailing. Your injury was almost identical to mine and lots of your comments resounded with me. For example I too have a bruise where the break was which never seems to go. I laughed about your comment re the damn crutches always falling over. That used to drive me mad as well. I’m at the stage of walking without crutches now but have frequent pain and a terrible limp. How you managed 7 flights of stairs when you came out of hospital beggars belief! Just wondering how you are now and whether there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

    Sue aka Hopalong!

    • jakemcmillan

      Hey Hopalong!

      Did you see my reply to your other post (Part 4 of the IM Nail saga)? I didn’t realise you had a helicopter ride to hospital? That is very grand indeed!

      Seems like you are dealing with things in good spirits.

      To repeat my reply on the other page:

      ‘Yes, there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel so please keep up the good work, battle through the soreness and really concentrate hard on your physio exercises. Even when the limp seems to have disappeared, it is really helpful to keep it up so that you don’t get muscle imbalances when you walk or run around. This can lead to very pain shin splints or other complications.

      For me it is nearly 2 years since the accident and my leg generally feels good. It is not the same as it used to be and after I jog (I go 2-3 times a week) it does feel stiff and sore just below the knee. I am contemplating having the IM Nail removed and need to arrange a meeting with the consultant to talk through the options and risks.’


  • Caz

    I broke my tib/fib 3 years ago, getting kicked by a horse, also had im nail, was 25 yrs old and my job is a to run a horse yard, teach and ride.
    I was off crutches pretty quick ( around 4 weeks) but I had a support boot, like an air cast, I needed to get back to work and so couldn’t be on crutches.
    I started riding at 6 weeks, it hurt like hell but got better.
    It took 5 months to feel normal, BUT I still have the bruise where it broke, And it still swells 3 years on over the break point.
    One thing I will say I had terrible knee pain and after kicking up a fuss after being told not to ride cause to re break with the rod would be very bad and could risk the loss of the leg, I had to fight hard but got them to remove the rod at 11/2 on. They told me it was high risk and bad, I took my chances, after 2 days of it out and one might in hospital was well worth it, knee pain totally gone.

    • jakemcmillan

      Hi Caz, many thanks for sharing this … sounds like the nail removal was a 100% success! Why did you have to fight so hard to get them to remove it? What did they say that was high risk and bad about having the nail removed?

  • Victoria

    Hi, I broke my tibia in 4 places and fibula in 1 place (all 5 were clean breaks! Very messy!) I was so so lucky that my surgeon decided to try and save my leg by inserting a titanium IM rod thru my tibia apposed to amputation. I am now 19 days post accident (quad bike accident) and 18 days post op- finding your blog has been a god send- I have been panicking about my recovery and the extremely slow pace! And the pains I have been feeling plus of course the mental side of it all- to read that it is all quite normal has made me feel fantastic and now much more positive about the progress I have made, so thank you for your blog, and I wish you a full and speedy recovery, Victoria

    • jakemcmillan

      Hi Victoria, thanks for posting. Sounds like you had quite an accident! I hope you the rest of your recovery goes very well.

      • Kiarasoccer

        I am 12 and broke my tibia and fibia in September this year, will it hurt to walk? I get my cast off around thanksgiving and I’m really scared! I didn’t have to get a rod, plates, or screws, but I did get me leg reset, or realigned twice! When do you think i will be able to play sports like soccer? My doctor said I shouldn’t be playing with physical contact until March or April just so it wont break again. When he told me this I started crying because I tried out for the state team that plays against the best in the united startes an I was going to make the team and play on the west coast all start team but now I can’t most likely which really depresses me!

      • jakemcmillan

        Hey! Thanks for posting. So sorry to hear you broke your tibia and fibia, hope you are healing well! Don’t be scared about the recovery once you get your cast removed, it will be sore I expect but it won’t be that painful. However, you will need to be patient … do what your doctor’s tell you to, do all the physio exercises they tell you to do.

        I know this must be very frustrating for you, but if you have to break your leg, doing it when you are 12 is probably the best time as you will heal quicker. Next March and April seems like a lifetime away, but it will come round pretty quick and if you are diligent with your recovery and don’t overdo it, it might be earlier than that.

        The best thing is to focus on short term goals rather than the longer term one of playing soccer competitively again. You will get there! However, in the mean time, look to make the best of your situation and enjoy it … life and fun does not have to end just because you have a broken leg!

  • Kiarasoccer

    Ok thanks. I meant tibia and fibula haha I get my full leg cast off next Tuesday and then sart weight beering I can’t wait until I get the whole entire cast off!! Do you ever feel the rod when you walk?

  • Philip

    Hello all, I am glad to find this website. I had my titanium nail and 2 screws for my right femur spinal fracture 2 weeks ago. I am undergoing PT and improving each day. The pain is more of a discomfort really, but I feel that it will even go away. I will decide after 1 year whether removal is the best option, but it will depend on any side-effects and lingering pain. I can recommend that you can have a nice surgery done in Thailand at the Bumrungrad Hospital because it is one the top medical tourism destination and maybe even less costly than say in the US or Europe. My doctor did a fantastic job and his wealth of experience is what makes me confident that I will end up normal one day after 3-6 months.

  • Amy

    I had an im rod inserted 10 months ago, and am now having it removed in 2 weeks time, my rod is slightly too long and i think its causing a lot of pain in my knee. Has anyone had the rod out because its too long, and this has stopped the pain?

  • Broken momma

    Jake, very generous of you to share your hospital stay and recovery. I too busted up my left tibia and fibula in a ski accident on family vacation and about 2 weeks post surgery. 6 days after surgery I had 4 hour flight home from Kelowna, BC to Toronto which went way better than I expected. So far as long as I stay with foot “higher than heart” the swelling isn’t too bad. Ice was my friend for days! I too use the painkillers at night so I can sleep. I have heard the screws take the longest to heal and to get used to, any input? Thanks again,
    Broken mama

  • BrokenAussieGirl

    Hey Jake, what a relief to find your blog. I broke my tibia and fibia 3 weeks ago, attempting to ride a skim board at the beach. Lesson learnt, 38 yr olds shouldn’t do things like that.
    IR rod and screws were insertered and sent home with crutches and a cam boot.
    I was told no weight bearing for 8 weeks but sometimes I can’t help but to put the bad foot on the ground.
    I’m concerned if my leg will ever be the same again.
    Your pictures from in hospital look like mine, same wounds.. 🙂
    Glad to read your getting back to normal.
    Thanks Jake.

  • Claire

    Thanks- I’m a gym freak /runner / skater who managed to also snap my tib and fib roller skating 😦 three weeks down the line – feeling rather useless – off work (nurse ) – single parent ana da child who I can’t take anywhere this summer . Being unable to drive is worse than not being able to walk. You drive? If so when could you drive again? If work tell me I have to do office work I’m going to struggle to get my child to child care then work – taxis are so expensive.

    On the bright side I’ve got though a few series on Netflix and getting on with a few PS4 games I never had time to play .

  • umar

    I have gone through the same procedure and most of my story is same as yours. It’s been 3 months now since my operation. My tibial fracture is now good because of the metal rod atattached to it but my fibular fracture is not good. after 3 months the fibular fracture is not recovering and i can feel the friction in my fibula bone. What should i do. Is it normal?

    • Aaron

      For my tib/fib fracture, the fibula had a much slower recover period. By month 3, most of my pain was in the fibula. I was playing basketball by month 3, but the fibula was the limiting factor. I did a lot of PT on my own and continued to play. 7 months later, the fibula pain was completely gone.

      On a side note, 2 years after the break, my tibia is still painful by my knee and I’m thinking about having the rod removed.

  • Tonia

    Just had a tibial nail put in after breaking my leg on a random country walk. As a dancer, walker and general exercise freak I was devastated, so hearing your experience has been so helpful and positive. Thank you for sharing Jake!


      Hi Tonia! You broke your leg just 2 and a half weeks before me! How are you doing now? Are you weight bearing? I’m also a big exerciser and it’s a real bummer to be shut down. Tomorrow I’m going to try water aerobics, hoping that will make me feel human again :).


    Hello- Jake and Everyone It’s so great to find this community!! I broke my right tibia and fibula in 2 places each and had a IM nail with screws by the knee and ankle the same day Feb 11, 2018, so I’m exactly 3 weeks out today. It was just a stupid fall on the ice; I have no idea how I hurt myself so badly, but at least it wasn’t my head! I was told I could put as much weight as I could tolerate on my leg the day after my surgery and they gave me crutches. The first week was a blur of pain and pain meds; I spent 2 nights in the hospital and then my husband brought me home to our three-story townhouse. I have NO IDEA how Jake managed 7 flights of stairs. My leg was so swollen and bruised, we called it my ham. In the last couple of days, though, I have felt more comfortable putting more weight on my leg, and I have been crutching around with only one crutch in the house until it starts to ache. I had my first doctor visit and got my stitches out on Friday. I can’t lift my big toe up on the injured leg, but my doc said it will probably get better and my physical therapist is working with me on it. Otherwise I have full range of motion of my knee and ankle. I do feel my broken fibula clicking around when I move my ankle certain ways, but my ortho said “don’t worry about it, it will heal fine,” which seems like a common but not very convincing answer :). It sounds like from here, people get off crutches between 1-3 months; I am so looking forward to that! My surgeon said I could drive 2 weeks after I’m off crutches; not driving is the worst! I have been off work for 3 weeks and my surgeon would like me to stay off another 2, so I’ll probably do that if I don’t go crazy from boredom. One thing I’ve not seen on this forum is any mention of NSAIDs or alcohol. My surgeon wants me to avoid all NSAIDS (ibuprophen, Alieve, aspirin, etc) b/c he said they have been shown in studies to slow or stop bone healing! Also, to avoid alcohol because it has been shown to cause weaker bone healing. Has anyone else been told that? Thanks again for sharing your experiences!
    Julia in Indiana

    • Hannah

      Hi Julia, I had lots of clicking in my ankle when I started walking. It has gradually decreased but still occasionally happens (5 months post op). I was given paracetamol & Ibuprofen by the hospital but choose to avoid taking Ibuprofen after doing research. Definitely still had a good few wines though haha! Hannah

  • Karen

    Very helpful infirmation. Thanks for writing:)

  • Barry

    Hi I am Barry 64 years old hit by car broke Tib and fib tibia shattered had rod fitted it is now five months ,they said I was lucky to keep lower leg ,had this done in private hospital in aporto ,healing was no worry leg went down after lots of ice ,I was at least a month to stastng physio but going ok but tendons very tight and painfull when doing excersises,I have had an air step boot for three months slept with it for one month that was hell ,I suppose grateful I never had to have plaster cast ,at least I have able to get around,I am now using one crutch with boot on ,I do now get an occasional sharp pain below knee and the shine and burning sensation worries mg if it’s ok ,the difficult problem I have is with the foot and metatarsal which is more painfull as more excersises are done ,just been told to stand on my toes it scared the hell out of me ,but I did it ,have told it is slowly healing ,and it will take about 18 teen months scary ,as I am a very active 65 year old guy ,thanks to you Jake it has given me strength to go on and you are correct nothing on Internet about healing and hospital just as bad ,hope we all do ok and get walking again unaided Barry.

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