IM Nail Removal – Carl’s Experience

by Jake McMillan

Morning after an IM Nail Removal

Carl had his IM Nail removed a few days ago on Aug 13th 2012 and he has very kindly allowed me to share his experiences, including a few photos! He had fractured his right tibia and fibula a year ago in Aug 2011 during a football match.

He attended physio and all seemed to be going well up until about 6 months after the procedure when he started to experience pain in the area of his ankle and his knee would regularly swell up like a balloon.  He revisited his consultant to see what could be done. Carl explained he was lucky as the consultant listened to his experiences and issues and on reviewing the x-rays could see the nail was causing the swelling to the knee.

Carl’s original tibia break

Carl’s IM Nail

Removing the IM Nail was then put forward as a solution to the problems Carl was experiencing. However, he would have to wait until August 2012 as no removal could be authorised until a minimum of 12 months after the original injury in order to allow the tibia to heal. Carl was also advised that there were risks to having the nail removed:

  • the tibia could fracture again
  • the nail could snap and they would have to leave it in

As Carl very much wants to continue to participate in contact sport (in particular football), he decided to go through with the removal of the IM Nail. He was advised if he had another break with the nail still in, it could cause more problems than when taking it out. (I think we are all a bit concerned at the thought of what our nails might do in such an accident!)

Carl’s operation was a success but it turned out to be more complicated than expected in his particular case. Normally this procedure takes approximately an hour, but in Carl’s case it took two and a half hours due to the fact the screws had embedded in the upper part of the tibia. In order for the screws to be removed they had to make a window in the bone which took some time and he was told it was difficult to do.

Post operation he was fine, apart from a some swelling as to be expected. He has stated that he would go through the procedure again and at this stage he is not experiencing any concerning pain other than mild discomfort which is managed by paracetamol and ibuprofen.

The knee the morning after the IM Nail removal

The ankle the morning after an IM Nail removal

He has been advised to wait 3 months before doing contact sports and was encouraged to do other sporting activity such as cycling and going to the gym. He can currently walk around without crutches, however, he has learnt it is best for him to use one crutch to practice full weight bearing (heel and toe) rather than limping which he has done previously in a failed effort to speed up his recovery.

A massive thank you to Carl for sharing his experiences, I hope this is of use and interest to everyone reading this.

4 responses to “IM Nail Removal – Carl’s Experience

  • Mark Richings

    Hi there…
    I’m in a similar situation myself.. Had my IM nail inserted in August 2012 broke tib and fib playing football.. It’s been 3 months now and all was going well until I started getting severe pain in the knee when taking weight through the leg.. I.e when standing up from sitting position.. Saw the consultant and he said my nail is a bit longer than my bone and sticks out the top and into the tendon.. So got to have it removed next year.. Just wondering if anyone knows how long I will be off work? I do a lot of walking around st work and sum times up and down ladders.. Also how long until I can start football again?.. If anyone has any info then that wud be greatly appreciated.. Any questions please ask..
    Mark .

  • cseager

    Carl what kind of pain did you have in the ankle?

  • david Smith

    Thanks Carl.
    I am thinking of getting my nail removed after 15 years.

  • Nathan

    What was your long term recovery like? How long did it take you to get back to 100%? I had the same procedure 5 months ago and am losing faith and patience.

    Thanks for the response

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