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broken tibia and fibula how long is average rcovery time?

i am 41 years old male in fairly good heath broke my tibia and fibula about an inch and a half above the ankle on sept. the 15th got a metal plate and 11 screws put in....about how long is the average rcovery time???????????also it was an open fracture
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First Helper andybarrett

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replied September 29th, 2011
Especially eHealthy

The following information is taken from the Wheeless' Textbook of Orthopaedics, out of Duke University:


Time to union;
- low energy frx: 10-13 weeks;
- high energy frx: 13-20 weeks;
- open frx: 16-26 weeks
- type 3B & 3C open frx requires 30 to 50 weeks for consolidation;
- distal tibial fractures may be more prone to non union than proximal fractures
due to absence of muscular soft tissue envelope;
- in the report by Anne Skoog et al., the authors studied 64 consecutive patients
with a tibial shaft fracture and found:
> 12 months after the injury, 44 percent had not regained full function of
the injured leg, although all but two of the patients had returned to
preinjury working status;

- references: One-Year Outcome After Tibial Shaft Fractures: Results of a Prospective Fracture Registry. A Skoog, et al. J Orthop Trauma. 15(3):210-215; March/April, 2001.

Unfortunately, your fracture is at the worst place to have a tib-fib fracture. The soft tissue envelope is minimal and the blood supply is poor. On top of that, it was an open fracture.

The above information on time frames is for union of the bone. That does not take into consideration the healing of the soft tissues and the rehabilitation of the limb. Recovery means different things to different patients.

But, in any case, you have some hard work ahead of you. To help the tissues heal well, you need to eat of good diet, that has extra protein in it. Most patients can get an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D in their diet, but if you want you can add some extra milk and cheese to your diet, that would be great. Many foods are now fortified with vitamin D, and you only need 20 minutes of sunlight on your face, to get your recommended daily requirement.

So, if you just eat a good diet, with an extra steak and milkshake once in a while, you should provide your body with the necessary nutrition to heal. Taking supplements is usually a waste of money. But, if you wish, you can take a daily vitamin and calcium tablet.

If you smoke, you might want to stop till the fracture and soft tissues are healed. Smoking decreases the blood supply to the bone and muscles around the fracture. It has been shown to delay healing of bone significantly. Smoking has also been proven to decrease the blood flow to the soft tissues, allowing infection rates to be higher. This includes the use of smokeless tobacco, cigarettes, pipes, and cigars.

Follow your surgeon's and physical therapist's instructions. When allowed, weight bearing can actually help stimulate the body to heal the bone faster. By applying stress through the bone, across the fracture site, the body will react by laying down more bone. This is Wolff's Law; that bone will react to the stress applied to it. That is why, when you lift weights, for example, the bones involved will become thicker and stouter. When they are not used, they become weaker and osteoporotic.

Remember, that you do not break just the bones, but the soft tissues are damaged as well. They have to heal and be rehabilitated. It often takes longer for the soft tissues to come back than to get the bone to heal. The soft tissues heal with scar, so they don't stretch or contract very well. This scar has to mature and soften, and the muscles have to regain their strength and flexibility.

You will have some ups and downs along the way. Your rehabilitation will plateau sometimes. And it is very easy to get depressed and discouraged along the way. So, eat a good diet, don't use tobacco, get out of the house, work hard in P.T., and you should be able to get this injury to heal and get back to what you want to do.

Good luck.
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replied October 2nd, 2011
thank very much.....
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replied December 12th, 2011
So how goes the healing process?
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