Me and My IM Nail (Part 8) – 3 years on


by Jake McMillan

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Broken Tibia X Ray

X Ray of IM Nail in Tibia

Three years ago I broke my tibia (see X-ray above) and fibula and the brand new term IM Nail (Intramedullary Nail or Rod) was introduced into my life … and my leg. Three years on I can still remember the pain, thankfully I don’t have that any more. Since the accident I’ve been blogging about my recovery as there was so little  information about it on the internet.

Unfortunately, three years later, there still seems to be very little information out there. However! One positive has been all the people who have taken the time to get in touch with me and comment on this blog to share their experiences of going through the recovery as well. A massive thank you to all who have commented and especially those who have said kind things as I really did not expect anyone to read my long posts about limping and pictures of scars and hairy legs.

For those who are not aware or have not yet filled it in, I have put together a short survey and will produce and share the findings with everyone. I’m just waiting until there are a 100 responses, with 80 people having filled it in so far (at the time of writing).

Scars and bruising
Over the three years the scars and bruising have gone down, but have not completely disappeared. Being a hairy-legged man helps cover them up.

Bruising and Scars after 3 years

So, three years post operation how is my leg doing generally?
It’s very similar to being a normal leg, it just has niggles. For example, if I leave it in one position it feels stiff/sore and kneeling on it is not comfortable (but is a bit better compared to a year ago I feel). There are some days it feels better than others, but generally speaking I can walk about, run and dance as badly as I ever did.

I am still cautious when it is raining and slippery, as if I expect my leg to cause a problem and always feel relieved when it is perfectly fine. I was in Singapore in March last year and I was wandering around, exploring after it had been raining and on a slippery stone I managed to fall straight down to the ground on my bad leg. It was just a case of poor grip, but I was so happy that I hadn’t hurt my leg or broken or bent my IM Nail I actually forgot the embarrassment of falling over in front of lots of people.

I haven’t done a lot of sports or exercise this last year but that has nothing to do with my IM Nail, it is been more me not making the time and effort to do it. I fully aim to do much more this year (we all say that don’t we?).

Last Sunday, I went to Richmond to meet some friends and I did so with some trepidation as it was a repeat of the exact same activities I did three years ago that ended up with me breaking my leg on my way home at Clapham Junction Station. I’ve been to the station and walked through the underpass (where I actually fell over and broke my leg) many times before so it should not really have been a big deal.

However, a friend made a joke over Facebook that they would break my other leg. They did not mean or intend any malice by this, just making a joke, but I did not take it in my normal good humour and realised that breaking my leg, the operation and its recovery was still a big deal. Apart from the pain and discomfort of the main recovery period, I was self-employed and it meant I couldn’t fulfil a contract that January or go for one the following month. I almost went bankrupt and barely managed to get by. My attitude remained positive, but it was a really tough time that I would not want to go through again.

In Clapham Junction Station Underpass

In Clapham Junction Station Underpass

As I walked through the underpass at Clapham Junction station last weekend I remembered the time laying on the ground 3 years ago whilst my friends decided that I actually did need medical attention (I had told them to leave me and I would hobble home to bed). I hoped I would not have a similar fate that evening. I am pleased to report that on my journey home I had completely and utterly forgotten about the accident and that it completely escaped my mind. Although, to give full disclosure, I had realised I was totally desperate for the loo and that was utmost on my mind. Nevertheless, although it’s something I still think about, the whole incident is very much in the past and the ongoing niggles of my leg don’t affect my life or bother me that much.

Will I have the IM Nail removed?
I have given this some thought and have still not yet arranged an appointment with a consultant to discuss this. I will do this as would like to know more information and will, of course, share it here. I would like to remove the IM Nail as would prefer it not to be in my leg, I think most people feel this way, but the question is whether it is worth the risk of further complications and pain. It does worry me what happens if I have another accident, how the metal might cause more damage, but then I cannot predict how bad that accident would be anyway? Some have had very successful removals and I know others where it has not given the desired result and caused further pain and problems. As I don’t get much discomfort and it doesn’t really prevent me from doing anything I think a consultant would say there is not enough justification to do it.

Sharing Your Experiences
Please keep doing this, I will continue to keep updating this blog and it really does help others to hear about as well as give support to others going through the same or very similar experience.

Thank you again to everyone who has contributed to the blog and wishing you all the very best with your recovery!

Jake



58 responses to “Me and My IM Nail (Part 8) – 3 years on

  • rensy1

    Great blog Jake..

    All the best

    Carl

    Sent from my iPhone

    • jakemcmillan

      Many thanks Carl! Hope you are well!

      • ahmad

        Hey jake
        This is Ahmad from india I have read all your blog about im nail experience ..
        Tell me hows you?
        Well last month I have struck with a road accident in which my right leg tibia and fabula broked its about a month gone till my operation I don’t feel pain but niggles a lot but there are too many things always runing in my mind that will I be better or not people visit me everyday and say u will be fine ..
        But I need to know that after 2 month how will my leg be…..

  • Ian flannery

    I got the same injury in 2009 don’t get th ed bruising and can now run as far as I could before but do get slight discomfort around the Side of my knee and notice we hen stood up my leg with the nail in the veins are more prominent but I am happy with my recovery in general
    and walked up a mountain today 🙂

  • Ian flannery

    one more thing sometimes not sure why I tend to loose Balance and lean into walls weird and also not the same walking around ccorners

  • Helen

    Hi Jake & all the Nailers
    Thanks again for taking the trouble to continue blogging after 3 years. I’m now 4 & a 1/2 months post op & until reading this blog i had huge fears that i would have to change careers.
    I returned to work as a nurse in a busy emergency department this week. I’m doing light duties for now but am confident after reading everyone’s posts that I will be back to full function before too long.

    Keep on recovering everybody!
    Cheers
    Helen

  • Robyn

    Hi guys.

    Also broke my tibia about three years ago and now have an IM nail. One huge nag I have is I still can’t kneel fully on my bad knee. This prevents me doing a lot of exercises at gym. Is this normal? Any suggestions?

    Thanks everyone;)
    Robyn

  • Tom

    I had a spiral fracture to the mid shaft of my tibia 3 weeks ago skiing in Vail. An IM nail was placed with 2 screw near the knee and 2 above the ankle. I do not have any pain at the injury site but still have significant knee pain and ankle stiffness. It feels like it is never going to get better. I started working after 2 weeks. Will be on crutches until the end of March (total of 6 weeks, no weight bearing). Not sure what to expect after that. I was very active before the injury and hope to get back into running and am able to ski next season.

  • Raquel

    I’m so glad I found your story! It’s very disheartening that there is not much info out there about I.m. Nailing. I broke my tib/fib feb.28 2013 I’m 4 weeks post op and going to physical therapy. Mine was a clean closed fracture. I had a lot of damage to the soft tissues that bones wouldn’t align so my surgeon and I decided a nail would be the best option. I’m having issues with my foot since I broke the bones. My foot is numb from the tip of my big toe to the heel. My p.t. And I feel that it might be nerve damage and unfortunately I’m in constant pain with little to no relief no matter what I do or take. Swelling still comes and goes but after reading your story it makes me feel a bit more optimistic about the whole ordeal. Thank you for posting

  • Jamie

    I suffered a sprial fracture to my tib/fib on feb 27, 2013. On march 1, 2013 I had the im nail inserted. The first two weeks were the worse. I am still no weight bare at the 5 week mark. I go to doctor next week. I have some pain in knee and ankle area when I move them. Stiffness is horrible. However overall so far I am pretty happy with my results. Ready to walk. Thanks for writing this. It is like a light at the end of the tunnel. Happy healing everyone. Stay positive!!!

  • sattersley

    Jake et al. It’s been wonderful to read Jake’s and everyone else’s story. I am 6 weeks post tibia IM Nail surgery after a tib/fib break from a fall off a small ladder. I had it in my mind that I would be back on my feet by now, and more importantly able to drive my car (right leg broken). Alas, after seeing the surgeon a couple of days ago, he is recommending another 4 weeks of partial weight bearing using only 1 crutch before trying to drive. This was hugely disappointing but after finding this blog I feel better knowing that my recovery is not dissimilar than other folks. Pain isn’t a problem other than some aches around my knee and in my foot along the big toe axis. Hopefully physio which I start next week will help with that. Thanks everyone!

    Sandra

  • Nic

    I had a spiral fracture 27th April, so 4 weeks yesterday, since my nail/screws etc, frustrated & can’t imagine walking unaided, never mind driving or gym!!

    Good to hear stories/experiences, positive & honest….. Everyone different / individual, so healing will also be different ….. My brother in law did the same, & was back playing rugby 1 year after his op. I wonder if I will ever be able to wear a high heel again, if anyone can tell me if they have experience of that?? Small thing on the grand scheme of thing, but I just wAnted to know if anyone could say “happened to me, & I happy in heels so long after accident”!!

    Nic

    • Sarah Fisher

      Hi Nic,

      I wore heels 10 months after my nail was inserted! I did try sooner however couldn’t actually walk.

      Hope you’re recovering well.

  • Richard Primbs

    Thank you so much for your great blog. I broke my right leg one month ago, and I got an IM nail the day of the injury. I have never had to recover from anything so challenging so I really appreciate being able to read about your experience. It gives me hope that my leg will be “normal” in the future.

  • Sarah Fisher

    Thanks again for sharing your experience Jake.

    I am now almost a year post injury/operation. I have recently started running at physio however the screws at my ankle were causing me grief. My consultant suggested removing the screws, so on Thursday I returned to hospital to have the operation.

    They have now removed the 2 screws I had at my ankle, and the 1 screw that I had at my knee. As the bones have not yet completly ‘knitted’ they have said that removing all the screws will allow the bones to settle. The tibial nail remains and they have said this wont be removed unless it was to cause me any problems.

    I was able to walk out of hospital after the operation, thanks to a local anaesthetic as well as a general! I am back on fairly strong painkillers but the pain is easing already only 3 days post op.

    I know it’s only cosmetic, however the scars serve as a reminder of the accident which caused me to have this operation. I had almost a year of these fading only to have the cuts opened up again! (The surgeons have opened up the old scars to remove the screws).

    I am hoping that now the screws have been removed I will find running a lot more comfortable, and won’t be inhibited by the screws any more.

    Being unable to exercise & take part in pre-accident activities (I’m a keen cyclist, runner & scuba diver!) has been the worst part of this experience, however I am almost back to my old self – with or without a few loose screws!

  • Peter Gaughran

    Hi Jake,

    It’s Peter, the Irish chap who slipped in the snow 🙂 I’m now over 2 and a half years over my IM nail incident, but I don’t think I mentioned I had two of my ankle screws removed as well, about 6 months ago.

    As anasthetic wasn’t an option before, it wasn’t this time either, and they didn’t want to go for a spinal again. I still have strong memories of the surgeon leaning over the ‘modesty’ curtain, and explaining that the local anasthetic would only really work on a surface level, and not on deep tissue (!)

    I’ll not go into the grisly details, but siffice to say, it was damn painful. I felt every turn of the scew, and there were two of them!!! Although I couldn’t keep them, they did show them to me afterwards, and I was shocked at their size! Very large, and that dull gold titanium colour. Also, quite covered in gristle… Ewwww…

    I’ve also had the ‘niggly’ leg thing. A medical friend of mine is convinced it’s psychosomatic, but I don’t believe it for a second!

    Anyhow, just wanted to share my most recent experiences!

    Cheers,
    Peter.

  • suhayle master

    Hi Jake I posted previously at about 4 months, I am now 15 months post double break and I am recovering well. I played my first game of 5 a side only 2 days ago, although i wasnt 100% i could get around the pitch. I have not kicked a ball with my bad leg yet though. I was fine walking the day after too although i probably wont be able to play again for atleast 7 days.
    I found the NHS physio useless during my rehab and up until month 9 i could run but would get very painful on one side of the leg (not the fracture sight). My private physio then solved that problem within a few weeks with some simple exercises. I had stopped with the exercises after 6 months (big mistake!!).

    I too get the odd niggle here and there. Not sure if it is all the deep lying tissue/nerves getting used to the old sensation or if it is the screws interfering with the nerves/tissue. If i wasn’t aiming to start playing football again i would be back to normal. But for vigorous activity i think you need that extra rehab in order to get the leg back to its best. I think i am about 3 months away from playing with my 11 a side colleagues finally!!

    Anyway its nice to read other stories and always gives a great insight and motivation to keep plugging away.

    There is light at the end of that tunnel my friends!

    Suhayle

  • Dawn Renee

    I experienced a tib/fib fracture on July 15, 2012. IM Nail was deemed the best repair option — closed fracture, but spiral. Now, over 1 yr later, I want to get the upper screws removed but my surgeon won’t perform the surgery. I am active in Tae Kwon Do as an instructor and in August 2013 was comfortable trying spin/jump kicks.The kicks don’t hurt anymore, but landing after a jump kick does! The top screw is the worst. The surgeon told me back in July 2013, to “keep challenging” myself — running, jumping, etc — to see if the pain would subside or go away completely. It hasn’t. And now, the top screw hurts all of the time when I am standing, walking, etc. One of my past Xrays revealed that all 4 screws were actually slightly bowed down / curved downward in the middle. The surgeon asked me what i had been doing — it was right after I began working with a personal trainer to regain strength. I wonder if the top screws are now more curved and bent from landing the jumping kicks? I have calls in to a couple of different local ortho surgeons to find out if they will remove some of my screws. Thank you for posting your blog. It gives us “survivors” needed information and reassurance that what we are experiencing is normal. Dawn R.

    • Julie

      Hi – I’m in Australia, I go to the free fracture clinic here, they just removed the top 2 screws from my tibial nail because I complained about unreasonable pain, and they’re very happy to pull the whole nail out once my tibia is healed (which may be another year – it’s only been 6 months since accident). I’ve decided to have the whole thing out when appropriate because I’m only 56 and lead a very active life and I don’t want to worry about bending the IM nail whenever I do something physical for the rest of my life!

      My bone has delayed union (ie not fully joined yet) and I’m getting around fine with the top 2 screws gone – MUCH less pain than before top screw removal.

      If you have union of the bone (check x-rays), don’t let them talk you out of it, simply asking to remove some or all of your painful screws is perfectly reasonable.

      Keep looking for a surgeon who will do what you need.

      Good luck!
      julie

  • Johnny

    Hello: i read your blog 5 months ago when i broke my tibia in two playing soccer with my friends. Like everybody else i was so hungry for information, because there is not much about recovery times, or just how you have to feel. Reading your blog inspired me to do one similar blog in facebook, but in spanish with puctures and videos. I figured that i can do the same for someone else, like your blog did for me. At the beginning i was so afraid, and the unknow is the worst, but reading your blog made me realize that i was in the right track. At this moment i can run on the tearmil, and in two weeks i will attemp to run on a regular surface. Am still sore on my left foot, and from time to time some little pain on the fracture. But i am on the right track to full recovery. Thanks again.

  • Johnny Perez

    Yes that is the link to my blog in spanish, about my fracture.

  • michelle parry

    Hi really good to read your blog, I cant believe what a traumatic journey this has been! I broke my tib, fib and ankle 2nd june 2013.
    When i did it I thought 8weeks plaster and id be skipping around again like nothing ever happened!! How nieve was I. Had Im nail and a screw in my ankle… 5 months on Im loads better, however still far from right.. the wortst bit is knee pain and the screws attatched to top of bone I can feel all time, very uncomfy.. and as for kneeling forget it.. hoping gets easier over time.. any comments on this ? cheers guys michelle

  • Julie

    Hi! I broke my right tib/fib between my motorbike and a slow-moving car, all my fault (rider fatigue), May 2013. Inspired by Jake’s blog I was walking without crutches at 7 weeks, driving an automatic (painfree) at 8 weeks, back to my landscaping course in 9 weeks (%$@&ing hurt sometimes but didn’t want to put it off a year), back on my motorbike about 12 weeks (which doesn’t hurt at all).

    However as is apparently normal in about 1/3 of open tibial fractures, I still have “non-union” aka “delayed union” at 6 months – the symptoms are lots of pain on weightbearing & exercise – if I lie around I get no pain at all. So they’ve just pulled out the top 2 screws to “dynamise” the break – ie stop the screws keeping the 2 halves of tibia apart & let weightbearing close the tiny gap. Weightbearing as tolerated was recommended straight after the procedure: I’m walking fine straight after waking up from general anaesthetic, minimal pain now which is excellent! Just a tiny itch/pinch occasionally at break site. Still limping protectively though, and kneeling still feels really weird. Putting off riding my bike again for a week which is my idea of taking it easy!

    I’m still planning to remove the whole nail when healed, which now looks like more than another 6 months, but I get to do everything I feel like doing – just slower! Thanks for blog, have been checking it regularly.
    And high heels hurt! Not that I’m really a high heels kinda gal – physio recommended to invest in some Birkenstocks, beautifully comfy and supportive.

    best of luck to all
    Julie (age 56)

  • Caroline

    Thanks for your blog. I snapped my tibia & fibula 6 months ago ice skating. I also have an IM rod through my tibia. So thanks for the updates on what happens in the future 🙂 x

  • Sam Wills

    Compound, spiral, butterfly fracture tib/fib to IN in May 2002. 9 months on crutches. Lots of phyisio. Snowboarding again in December 2003 two seasons of riding with the IN, I could only ride for about half a day before I got tired and my leg started hurting. I was getting increasingly worried about the chance of an injury re-occurrence so I persuaded, (and had to persuade), someone to take it out.

    Definitely the best thing I could of done. There was some pain and recovery after the removal op but my leg has gone from strength to strength since then. The scarring on my knee is worse where the existing scar tissue was recut and healed but I can kneel without discomfort and no longer have any fear of damaging the nail. Over 10 years later and 14 back to back winter seasons I can say that taking the nail out was a good decision. I still find ways to trial and exercise the damaged muscles and nerve damage and occasionally I get an electric sensation from the arch of my foot to the inside of my knee when I stand up – old nerve pathways and muscles trying to fire – but I really am not limited by it at all. My advice is that it a rest of your life healing event, psychologically and physiologically. Whenever I hit it on something for a long time my brain would automatically go into emergency mode and I would feel a lot of pain – similar to your situation in Singapore – but over time I have learned to modulate that response by repeating to myself that it was fine and that it was healed. I also no longer referred to it as my “bad leg” and thought about it as my “healed leg” or my “leg that can take all the punishment and come back for more” or my “strong leg”. Only recently when I started doing pistol squats in the gym I found I could do more with my left leg than with my right – which still comes as a shock.

    I also found recently that trying to beat my foot on that leg in time to music and keep it up really got into all the muscles on my shin that still have a lot of scar tissue. Its an ongoing process – almost like a voyage of discovery.

    I hope you are feeling heaps better and also a little like an invincible Wolverine with an (adamant)titanium augmented skeleton…

    Cheers

    Sam

  • alan

    Very useful blog, Jake. My tib/fib fractures and intramedullary nail insertion happened 8 years ago (football) in my late forties. Back then there was nothing like your blog on line to provide information and support. I kept a detailed ‘leg log’ myself for several months; so much happens; so many ‘firsts’ to record.
    I have no pain today, just the constant different ‘feel’ to the metallised leg, and an area of numbness around the knee.
    I have wrestled with the question of nail removal ever since. The consultant who inserted the nail advised removal after 18 months as part of the deal. A different consultant later advised leaving it in as no pain and ‘maybe get it done with your hip later in life’ (nice bit of black humour, cheers feller!). There is the lurking fear of impact injury – I remain active e.g. cycling, running. And the thought of having a ‘normal’, titanium-free leg again. But on the other hand, I can read from your blog that while many were pleased with the results, some were not.
    I will be interested to see the results of your survey, which I just completed. Especially with regard to nail removal. I’m glad for you and everyone else who made good recoveries, and wish the very best for those injured and still recovering now. Cheers, Alan.

  • Julia B

    This blog has helped me so much in my recovery process. I fell down the stairs and fractured my fibula/tibia right above my ankle. Since I have three little ones, the doc recommended the IM rod/screws to get me on my feet fast. It’s been almost 3 weeks and I am full weight bearing and using a cane with the walking cam boot. I seem to be healing well but it really hurts bad after I move about at home.
    Is this soreness normal? Also, have you experienced throbbing knee pain after bending it too quickly?
    My other question is psychological – I’ve noticed that I get bent a little sideways when my family teases me about “being a wimp” or “faking” the pain. Usually, I’m able to throw back some snide comment. It’s all playful banter but lately it just gets me down. Anyone else experiencing that unpleasant impatient/disappointed feeling?
    Thanks!

    • Karen

      Oh yes, I am 6 weeks post op and have some real ups and downs this blog has been great but also challenging as so many people seem to progress much faster.
      Psychologically the inability to do so many things at the rate I used to has been hard and I do think once you start back to doing the cooking washing etc everyone thinks that’s it all back to normal and let’s you get on with it, despite how sore you may be. I have found some days good and can get plenty done but wiped out next day.
      I also seem to have arthritis in my knee which has been swelling up on a regular basis and just this week got over that and the ok to start using one crutch and free up a hand, when my back has truly packed in. Again I think this is from using the one crutch and despite intense concentration probably walking crookedly however today has been spent enforced sitting on hard chairs and packing hot water bottles round my back and thinking how this is holding me back now I finally got the go ahead to start exercising a bit. I would nearly venture the back pain is worse than the IM leg was post op. Hopefully a couple of days and I can start again with one crutch walking.

  • David

    Had my nail and screws taken out 1 week ago today, approx 20 months after the initial break. The op to remove the nail didn’t go as well as planned, and the 30 min planned op turned into over 2 hrs as they really struggled to get the thing out!! Still feeling really tender in the knee and ankle atm, but i can put all my weight on the leg, and hobble around without too much severe pain. Get the staples out next week……hoping the healing process goes well after this and I go from strength to strengh!!
    All the best to all 🙂
    Dave

  • Cheymus McNulty

    Hey jake,

    You are right, I have been in hospital in South Korea for 5 days with my phone looking for some reasonable realistic storylines to follow and yours was by far the most detailed and personal. Thank-you very much for taking the time. I’m 4 days past surgery and have actually experienced very little pain so far which I am grateful for. I broke the tibia in one spot and the fibula in two in a motorcycle accident. Our IM nails look identical. So thanks again.
    Cheers!

  • Christine

    I spiral fractured my tibia and fibula on Oct 27. 2014. Today is Dec 15 2014. I am 7 weeks post op with nail. I am 90 percent healed at fracture site. Amazing. I started physio 2 weeks post op which besides this blog has been my only guide to healing. I can walk without crutches. BUT physio recommends staying on one crutch to ensure less limping.
    When I left the hospital the day after surgery the Surgeon said weight bearing as tolerated so I put weight on when I could. When I got staples out 10 days later a different Dr said feather weight bearing. I found the two opinions frustrating. But was somewhere in the middle.
    I got a bike at home to work on rehabbing. I am doing 20 minutes of walking in doors 3 times a day. Stairs are tricky for me as I live in a bungalow so cant practice. How Jake did 7 flights with crutches and during recovery still amazes me.
    I have a baby who will turn 6 months next week and needing so much help to look after her for the first 4 weeks was so upsetting but I am so great full for everyone in my life. My 6 year olds only Christmas wish is for me to walk I am making that happen.

  • Weiwei

    Thanks for sharing. I broke my tibia/fabia bone on jan 11th 2015 with a spiral fracture. I had the rod inserted the next day. I am allowed to put weight on my bad leg 2 weeks after the surgery with a boot to protect my ankle. I have a fracture on my ankle as well. At 5 weeks I was allowed to not use my boot. In the Very beginning both my kneel and ankle r very stiff and felt sore with muscles. It slowly gets better and at week 7 i am able to walk around although with a limp and my ankle is still having limited range and felt sore when doing toe stand. I am doing PT right now. It does help me to bring the muscle back and reactive them. I was told whenever there is a trauma. The music shutdown automatically and rehab will help to get them back. My kneel also felt sore when I bent it all the way. Otherwise it is fine except felt a bit weak. Don’t know if I will have sustained knee pain in the future. It was said 75% of this surgery will result in long term kneel problem. I have confidence that it will get better day by day after reading all the posts here and hope everybody who has the surgery having a smooth recovery. Every one’s pain will be different but it will get better.

  • Amanda ratcliffe

    Hi , I was net rested to see that some people have had all the screws out but left the rod in place , my surgeon told me this was not possible as most of my pain comes from the large screw under my knee and trouble with a lower one rubbing on the post tibial tendon . I need to ask again .make sure you strengthen the posterior tibial tendon right away with toe raises as mine is giving me trouble 3 years on . Hope everyone keeps healing well and keep your spirits up you new starters , although my tendon is sore now I have had some great walking this last summer .

  • Sharmistha

    I had a similar fracture and underwent IM nailing in my tibia, I’d been told it would take a year to heal at max, but its been 2 years now and my leg still feels weird. For instance, a soft clicking sound and a strange feeling of something moving inside my leg, on plantar flexion of the ankle. They’re more annoying and remind me of a time I wish to forget, than painful or debilitating, so I try not to complain. Anyway, thanks for writing about your #, it was nice knowing that I’m not the only one 🙂

  • RobbieD

    One week post op IM Tibial nail – glad to have discovered this blog and can see some light at the end of the tunnel ……….but boy ,what a long tunnel it is eh? Thanks Jake and others for sharing. Speedy recovery everyone.

  • fgal

    Thanks a lot Jake for sharing your experience here. Last Sunday I had a trail running accident and broke my tibia and fibula, on Monday I had an IM nailing done. Reading your story gives me an idea of what I will be going through and a lot of hope. Thank you very much 🙂

    • Angela

      Thank you so much for your blog posts about the IM nail recovery Jake. I only wish I had found it sooner. I am 9 weeks post fall off my son’s pretend snowboard. At 40 I guess I should have know better, but I had been feeling fabulous so… anyway now not so much. Very little information given pre or post IM nail surgery. I was just in so much shock I was just like – fix me. Like someone else mentioned I had no idea how this would affect my life at the time. I immediately knew it was broken … the wiggly feeling at the end of my leg and just figured I’d have a cast in for 6 weeks or so. How wring I was. Anyway I feel like so far my recovery has been pretty textbook comparing my story to yours and based on what the surgeon and PT have been saying. 9 weeks out and I can walk unassisted, but tend to use at least one crutch because otherwise I limp too much. Trying to build up strength and flexibility now in physio. With my injury although they had sent me home from hospital initially without an air cast – they put one on 10 days post op when owner back to get the staples removed and they xrayed again and found out I also had an ankle fracture. So no weight bearing at all for 6 weeks. The past 3 I have seen a tremendous improvement and for that I am greatful. But a few weeks ago I could barely bend my knee at all or straighten it and now (with much pain and difficulty) I can bend it quite a bit. Curious to know about the screw removal and improvement to pain. How do you know if the crews are what is causing your pain?! My knee and ankle pain is not right on top of the screws but more nearby ish. My surgeon is if the opinion all hardware will stay in. It does make energies of reinjury. Thank you again for your humorous and inspirational blog. I look forward to further recovery over the next year.

  • Jon Hallett

    Hey Jake,
    Thanks very much for this write up. I’m currently 4 weeks post op, and I’m not going to lie, I’m a little more worried about this recovery now. I was really hoping for the 6 to 8 weeks and be back to normal. I didn’t get the cast off until 2 weeks post op and was still told no weight on the left leg (the bad one). I am very anxious to get back to work as I am part of a 3 man utility crew and I’m left feeling guilty that I’m not there for them. My injury cam from falling between ladder rungs doing my own home renovations the first day of vacation that I took.
    It has been nice the last couple of weeks being able to shower semi-normally with a chair in the shower stall and being able to have full range of my knee and be able to scratch my ankle if need be, but I thought I would be further along in my recovery than I am. I feel better about my progress after reading your story. I wasn’t really given any information from my surgeon post op, or if he had I was too messed up on the painkillers to recollect, and have yet to see him still. I’ll see him in about a week and a half from now and I now have many more questions for him than before I read your blog.
    Now it seems like I’m just rambling on but i’m now prepared to adjust the the fact that I’m going to be invested in this recovery for a lot longer than I thought I was going to be. Thanks again for this fabulous blog. Keep us updated on whether or not you have the hardware removed or not.

    Jon

  • Erin Stephanie MacDonald

    Hi Jake, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story. I am 4 years post op – my leg looks very similar to yours! (although not hairy!!) I think you are a year ahead of me in recovery, but I’ve been following your posts since I broke my leg. I broke my leg in a soccer game in 2012 and had a compound fracture and needed an IM nail inserted. The only limitations that I find with my leg, is that I can’t kneel without stabbing pain (but this has gotten better over the years), and when it comes to long distance running, I also experience shin-splints, mostly in my ‘good leg’. Which I’ve determined means that I will never be a long distance runner – although, I was never really a fan of long distance runs. On the plus side!!! I am in better physical shape than I was before my accident. I’ve focused more on weight training. And I was back playing soccer 1 year after my accident! I couldn’t not give up soccer, it’s my sport! Again, I just want to thank you for all the support you’ve unknowingly provided me over the years – and I wish you all the best in the future. Please keep updating your site!! I am curious as to if you get the rod removed – myself, I am very hesitant – it would mean more surgery. My surgeon is also of the feeling that if its not bothering me – we can leave it in forever..Take care!

  • Mark “Jazmarc” W

    Hi Jake, Thanks for the blog. You’re right there’s not much out there for non-medical types recovering from IM nail surgery. I’m a 6′ 178lb 57yo male who went through the IM nail procedure in Fall 2009. Took me about 6 months to recover from the surgery. Prior to surgery I weight lifted and ran short distances. Post surgery I resumed weight lifting and couldn’t run without knee pain. Currently I can’t run and walking has become painful as shin and knee pain are intolerable without taking daily Tylenol. Wondering if there are other older folks suffering with similar issues. My surgeon recommended leaving my nail in. Hope you are well.

  • Kara

    Hi – I had some locking screws taken out in March. I’m still having issues and wondered if anyone has had the same issues. All I can describe this is as restless leg – or rather restless from the knees to the ankle. I cannot get any comfort. Nothing eases things. To move my leg eases the feeling of restlessness slightly but then when it stops moving things feel worse. Cocodamol was working and easing things, but even this has stopped working. I’m 9 months post op for the initial surgery and 2 months post op having the screws taken out. Thanks.

  • HB

    Thanks for sharing your recovery journey, I’ve just read through all of it. I’ve had a tibia and fibula fracture, and got an IM nail two weeks ago. It seems like such a long way to go, and with so many potential problems along the way, I’m having some difficulty keeping a cool head about it. My doctor said I cannot bear any weight on my leg for 6 weeks, which makes doing everything so much harder. I’ve been trying to continue to work from home, but it seems this will have such a long term impact on my life that it’s overwhelming at times.

  • sattersley

    Hi Everyone: I am 3 years+ since my tibia IM nail. This blog has been the best source of information. Thanks Jake and all who have contributed. My leg had been perfect since the surgery in April 2013, until last summer when during a post-workout stretch I felt a sharp pain where the upper locking screw goes thru the nail close to the knee. It stopped as soon as I relaxed. A few days later there was bruising in the area, and a few weeks later, that upper screw started backing out. Now it sticks out about 20 mm. I’ve just seen the surgeon and the screw will be removed – just in clinic under local anaesthetic. I am curious to hear if anyone else has had the top screw removed and if there were any problems experienced.

    • Peter Gaughran

      Hi!

      I had my bottom two screws removed under local as I don’t react well to general; it was a very strange experience! I must say it made all the difference though – well worth doing!

      I did get to see the screws afterwards too. They wouldn’t let me keep them, but the sight was enough for me…

  • Gary

    Hope everyone reading this is healing well and the best of wishes to you all! This article and the comments section has been the most informative information I’ve been able to find after trawling the web and landing on very vague NHS sites. I’m currently just after week two of a pretty extensive open fracture of the Fibula and multiple fractures/shattered Tibia. Mine was caused by a motorcycle accident out in Germany. I got hit by a black BMW and landed myself in to a barrier. Safe to say I’ve actually come out of this quite lucky. I had the Rod inserted and also my Fibula plated. After recieving German healthcare and a free helicopter ride which was all very stereotypical (quick, efficient and clean). My leg looks really good already. Some minor swelling along my kneecap and ankle although all the bruising has subsided and I have more little aches than actual pain. Something I have tried is the Hyberbaric oxygen chambers. Most of them seem to be charity run and relatively cheap. My local one which doubles up for an MS clinic costs just £10 a session. The idea is that you are put in to a sealed unit that is pressurised and fed pure oxygen which increases the amount of Oxygen and plasma in your system to promote bone growth and general recovery. I’m sure there is a more scientific definition but that is as far as my C grade science GCSE will get you. Importantly I have heard very good things with people claiming very good recovery times although I am always swayed to the more skeptical side. If anyone else is doing similar or are interested I will gladly keep up to date on this feed and let you know how I progress. After two weeks I am already happy with the progress although I am not sure if this is through Oxygen therapy or just the Germans doing a great job? P.S if you get a broken leg in Germany they actually give massages not just for injured areas, I had a neck massage in hospital!! Only advice is bring a packed lunch if you plan to hurt yourself abroad. The food is diabolical

  • Deborah

    Hey!
    Had my nail put in back in 2007. I was having pain for years where the screws were, so my dr just pulled them out a couple weeks ago. I haven’t felt this normal in years. Surgery took about 30 minutes, the screws had welded to the rod, but he was able to extract them without breaking them (or me). There was a good amount of bruising and it was a little difficult to get around for a few days, but no regrets. So glad to have had it done. Wouldn’t have tried if I hadn’t seen others posting about getting their nails removed, so thanks to everyone for the encouragement. I hope the ones just getting theirs find hope here, and know they’ll be getting back to normal in no time.

  • William Mark Woodland

    Had my nail removed from the right tibia on August 25th. (Initially broke the leg 2009) Has taken me about 6 weeks to fully recover though I was back to work limping a bit after a week. Only took narcotics for pain 3 days postop. Used gabapentin and tylenol for maybe a week beyond that. 6 week follow up visit the doc gave me a cortisone injection in the right knee for general pain issues. Knee feels wonderful! Pain associated with the nail is gone! Very pleased with the removal procedure and would encourage others who have had years of postop IM nail pain to consider getting the hardware removed. I’m in the US and had fulfilled my deductible for the current year, meaning the surgery bill was over 80% covered. Otherwise I couldn’t have afforded it. Interested in hearing others experiences. Wonderful site, Thanks Jake!

  • Tracy Grant

    Hi ..so happy to have come upon this blog, thanks Jake. I broke my Tib Fib May 21 the 24 weekend..falling with ankle twisted in drain grate, open fracture, I had surgery the same night, placed IM nail with the 2 screws under knee, just like you, and 3 in ankle, well just had 3 screws out on the 18th 2 in knee and the locking screw. The surgeon said I could walk rite away, I have been trying but I still have to use crutches, just 1 but can’t seem to bend leg while walking…I have been keeping busy doing housework and such, but now the nail seems to be bothering me, and feel tightness , like I have a bungie cord around ankle where the other 2 screws are… I really hope I don’t have to go thru removal again, this has been quite the unexpected challenge ever, I feel for all and hope all get well… and sorry for the long post, feeling disappointed.

  • Louise

    Hi Jake
    I was knocked off my bike 3 years ago and have the im nail and screws in knee and ankle. I was just wondering how you were doing. When I was laid up in bed I found your blog and I can’t tell you how relieved I was to find someone else out there who had gone through what I was experiencing, without wanting to sound dramatic I found the whole thing life changing and was so low for a long time. Since my accident I have returned to cycling and now do long distance swimming and I am now training for a marathon!! Would be nice to hear how you are.

  • Lisa

    Hey I have had my IM nail in tibia now since 2011.

    I still have some pain when I run, it’s cold and/or when I’ve put on weight.

    Fundamentally I feel lucky that my leg works and I’m happy and healthy. The break has changed me. But I’ve come
    To terms with it.

    • Louise

      Hi Lisa

      Like you I get the aches and definitely feel the cold now! I found my break quite traumatic and it certainly changed my perspective on a lot of things.

      Running my first marathon in 3 weeks!!

      All the best
      Louise

  • Audrey

    Thanks so much for the info Jake et al. It’s March 2017 and there is still very little other info out there. I’m 9 days post op after tib/fib fracture with IM nail in the tib. I can actually hobble about without my crutches but i’m sure i’m not doing something right and i expect i will suffer for it in due course. Glad to read it gets better but scared it seems to take so long. Ive got first appointment at fracture clinic tomorrow and hoping to get staples out. Extremely frustrated by this whole thing especially my instant lack of mobility and worried my age will count against me as i’m 50 and really overweight and unfit.

    • Louise

      Hi Audrey
      I broke both bones in my lower leg in July 2013 (age 39) and this blog of Jakes was a relief to find as I couldn’t find much out there. It will feel like its taking a long time because if you are like me you want to be up and about straight away. Have you got the sexy black boot on 🙂 I had that on for nearly two months until the September and started my physio not long after that. I was signed off from physio in the March. An important piece of advice I would give is do the exercises that you are given, I did mine religiously and I really felt that that helped.
      I started cycling again in March 14 (my leg was broken by someone knocking me off my bike) and quickly lost all the weight that I had put on over the previous months. I did lots of swimming and walking too and that helped. I am now training for my first marathon which is on 2nd April (3 weeks eeek!)
      Basically there is light at the end of the tunnel, and don’t forget age is just a number. I found my whole leg break experience quite traumatic, but the main thing that I took from it is that you only get one life, live it.
      I hope your recovery goes well
      Louise xx

  • Lee

    Hi Jake.

    Just wanted to thank you for the time and effort you put into this and the information you have provided.

    I broke tib and fib in May 2016 training Jiu-Jitsu and have just passed my first anniversary. During my recovery your blog provided insight and assurance in the absence of any other information.

    My leg seems to be like yours now, just niggles. However, I have been back training since December 16 and competed for the first time since my break and managed to win gold so the leg is performing well.

    All the best,
    Lee.

  • Caroline Smith

    Thankyou so much for keeping this up to date – there is so little info out there and when the consultants told me I wouldn’t be standing for 3 months let alone anything else, I panicked (11 weeks and I’m back at work being a dog walker so they couldn’t have been more wrong!). Anyway, it was so reassuring to know that eventually life would be ok! So thankyou again x

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