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Calcaneus Surgery ORIF Success Stories?

Rhett Burroughs · · Rock Springs, WY · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 215

pain goes away, discomfort that lasts forever

Larry T · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

Is there a facebook page someone mentioned about all this?

L Hong · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0


Broken Heel/Calcaneus Support Group on Facebook.  Closed group, but ping and request access.

Larry T · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

Roger that, cheers mate

paul c · · AL · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Just found this site-- it is encouraging. I'll try to make my story short. I'm 53 now. Fell off a ladder 9/3/216. Broke calcaneus into 4 pieces. Also fractured my L2 & L4 vertebrea.

ORIF on heel 9/14/16. Back surgery on 9/30/16. Twelve wks NWB in cast. Was taking about 6-8 10mg oxycotins per day during this time. One month air-cast/PWB with two crutches.

Returned to work from disability 12/6/16. Twelve weeks PT. Diagnosed diabetic on the day of the accident. Lost 55lbs since then & am working out 3-4 times/wk since PT ended. 25lbs to go.

Walking with a limp and much pain. Especially going down stairs.  The upstroke on the injured foot causes the pain, not the downstroke. I find this odd.

I have had 3 sympathetic nerve blocks in attempt to ease pain.  Little if any improvement seen. Additional issues with coccyx pain that back surgeon can find no cause for.

Now my big question is:

Remove hardware or not?

Dr says if so, twelve more wks of NWB. I can hardly bear the thought of that and also the thought it may make the pain worse long-term. But my research online

seems to indicate that 70% of folks see an improvement in pain levels and functionality. I spent much of Oct-Dec of 2016 wishing I had died. The pain was so bad. An unsympathetic foot surgeon that wouldn't renew Rxs for oxycontin didn't help the situation--either physically or emotionally. I found myself living in fear that the back surgeon would cease to write scripts in lieu of the foot surgeon--who should've been providing them.

 I'd like to hear from anyone that had their hardware removed and what, if any, issues you encountered because of it. Would you do it again?



ThomasK · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2013 · Points: 0

I recommend taking the hardware out. Mine (an L shaped plate) was giving me fits when I walked on side slopes. All better after removal. The recovery from hardware removal was very minor compared to the original surgery. My heel was shattered. But I'm 90% recovered and very active. Sorry about your pain issue, good luck. 

JSH · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 969

Paul, I had a similar set of injuries after a 40-foot groundfall almost exactly 6 years ago at age 39.  I'm fused from T12-L2.  It was difficult to deal with both a back injury and a foot at the same time.  My fusion incision was from the side, and so my core/abs were just nonexistent for months, right when I really needed them to crutch!  

In my heel I had a plate & 7 screws.  With all of that, I could walk, but couldn't really curl my toes (which is an essential part of walking, really), and oh, the ache.  So I had the plate & 5 screws out (6 weeks NWB for me) at about 4 months after they went in, and it turned out one of the screws had been poking into my tibial? nerve.  Immediately after the surgery nerve block wore off, I could curl my toes!  And walking improved a lot, as did pain.  The last two screws were potentially in an OK spot, right upwards from the bottom of my heel, but ended up hurting and came out ~ 6 months later.  So my advice would be -- out, take it out.  The only issue I had was discovering a ligament that had been torn from all the hardware (or the original break, who knows) that needed surgery itself later.  But I'm really fine now.

I'm so sorry to hear about the pain. I really know what you mean -- and especially in this day & age, the fear of pain going untreated because of the "crisis".

Back pain care:  yoga, yoga and more yoga.  Keep doing whatever your PT has you do, every day, for life.  

paul c · · AL · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Thanks so much for the replies. The foot surgeon wants to do a subtalar fusion. I am not convinced what the benefits of this might be...or the risks of not having it done. Anyone have any advice on this?

Rhett Burroughs · · Rock Springs, WY · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 215

I have only around 20% of my subtalar joint left on both feet.  The joints were "dusted" was the medical term. I had 30 shatters total in both my heels.  I also herniated 4 discs in my back.  My feet hurt worse.

I basically have a natural fusion although I'm better than people with a real fusion.  Its not by much.  I Still climb 9s and 10s.  Sustained cracks are a thing of the past but who wants to do that anyways.  

I am in discomfort 24/7.  Your not getting rid of the discomfort.  It will always be there.  Your older so that doesn't help but I now have the feet of a 65yr old with my arthritis and lack of ROM.  Your call.

Heel injuries have no place for sympathy.  It is just going to hurt and ache.  Want my advise ditch the pain killers.  Its a crutch.

Drink some beer.. always worked better for me.

I still have my hardware and as far as I know the first person to walk a highline and climb El Cap.  All because I wanted too.

I have heard of Prolo injections which I got one round.  I think it helped.  I'm honestly not sure.  Ask your doc, I think it is experimental medicine so probably not covered under insurance.

At least you have 1 good foot :)

paul c · · AL · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0


I take very few pain killers now, too afraid of becoming an addict. Beer is out with my diabetes. :) I just don't see the point of having surgery to remove the existing hardware, only to have more hardware put in. My goal is just to be able to walk without a limp & sit without pain.

Terry Mushat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 5

Paul I had my injury July 20 on August 11 plate and screws I still had pain on outside of ankle. I had CAT scan in march and it revealed cartilage damage and I elected to have subtalar fusion and bone graft below knee on march 23 then 11 weeks off it and in a cast. I only had pain in the foot for about a week after surgery it was waay different from ORIF surgery but my knee is still sore. I had the hardware removed and now have two long screws in the heel. I had the cast removed last Thursday and I was able to walk on Friday in an ankle brace and construction boot without using crutches or Cain it was an amazing accomplishment. I still am using the crutches and walking some short distances in the house and started rehab today. Now listen to this I like all feared the word "fusion"  but to be honest I have almost  exactly the same amount of movement I had before the fusion it's almost like I did not have anything done at all they measured all my movement at the rehab center and compared them  to what they were when I left rehab from the calcaneal surgery and three of the four are the same and one is off some. Now I have a long way to go till I'm work ready but every day it gets stronger and less painful but the nonstop  achy pain is now gone that alone is a blessing. My view of the fusion was to get it done now and get this  nightmare over with and put it past me. If you want the hardware out get the fusion done also,  especially if that's what your surgeon suggests. #dontfearthefusion! /Terry

paul c · · AL · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Thanks Terry for sharing your story. I  am currently in the process of getting a 2nd opinion regarding the fusion. It's not the fusion per se that I am worried about--it is the additional hardware and the bone graft aspect that concerns me....

ettore campanaro · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

Wow it was so wonderful to read all of your positive stories.  I can't tell you how encouraging they were.  I am not a rock climber or into mega sports but i love to hike and enjoy nature.  I had my ORIF  on 4/19 /17 so I am a newby, however, i had the same experience with my surgeon giving me the worst case scenario.  "you will never be the same, etc".  So needless to say it has been a depressing experience.  i have a plate and 9 screws. My cast was removed 5/19/17 and i started range of motion exercise.  Have to say my left foot (injured foot) has about the same ROM  as the right foot.  the difference is i feel a resistance/tightness not painful, but not natural. sort of like my foot belongs to someone else.  also i have numbness along the back of the heel, ankle area, scar area and the bottom and interior surface of my big toe.  i do my range of motion therapy religiously 3x per day with no pain.  i have some soreness and sometimes some swelling.  tomorrow i see the ortho surgeon to get the go ahead for partial weight bearing.  today a 2nd opinion ortho PA looked at an x-ray she ordered and said one screw appears to be a little long extending beyond the cortex (not sure what it means exactly but can only imagine it means it may be problematic).  anyway her point was i should mention this to the ortho surgeon.  i forgot to mention i live in italy and the surgeon is italian.  the PT AND PA are american on a military base where i am doing the PT. so i am wondering what to expect when i do start partial weight bearing PT in terms of pain, balance, etc.  Also, id it best to get the hardware removed if the bone is healed.  mine fracture was like a piece of splintered wood.  How soon after can the hardware be safely removed.  the ortho said he would leave it there forever unless it bothered me or my body rejected it.  having to deal with the italian and american medical systems complicates things a bit but hearing your experiences is inspiring.  all the other blogs are gloom and doom.

Robeschbach · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Like everyone else I'm happy to find a calcaneal fracture group that's not all doom and gloom. 3 months ago I completely shattered my left heel in a paragliding accident. Severely displaced, comminuted, and intra articular. I underwent ORIF  2 weeks later and got 12 screws and links. Last week I finally got cleared to full weight bear without the boot. Also got cleared for yoga and body surfing. Doc says climbing and skydiving will be a few months yet, but the goal is to get me back on a surfboard this month. I still deal with a lot of pain, but I feel just a little bit better every day. I'm optimistic that I will beat this injury and return to my former adventure lifestyle. I'm interested in the Facebook support group so I sent a join request. 

Mary T · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

Thank you all, my journey is just beginning. My 8' fall into our basement happened on 6/30 and my surgery is tomorrow morning 7/10/17. Rt foot heel break in 3-4 pieces thru the joint, plus fibula fx. I am terrified, but this thread has helped. I am 62, work 60 hours a week and (was) on my feet a lot. Not a climber but a camper. I have read all of the gloom and doom and heard the same "life changing break" story from my surgeon. Glad to see there can be hope too.

L Hong · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0


Best of luck to you on your surgery tomorrow.  So sorry that you have joined the 'many' with this injury.  Yours sounds much more serious than mine.  Keep the faith, this is a marathon not a sprint.


paul c · · AL · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Can someone please post a link to the Facebook group? I've been unable to find it & would like to join...

Had a 10mo follow-up with my surgeon last week.  She says a lot of arthritis is there and is recommending a subtalar fusion and a calcano-cuboid fusion. Says she doesn't want to put me through possibly 2 surgeries. I can hardly stand the thought of another 6wks NWB. I see a specialist next week for a 2nd opinion . She also wants me to see another ortho regarding  my suspected piriformis syndrome --which is causing as much  pain and discomfort at this point as the calcaneous fractured foot.

so appreciate the encouragement offered here by everyone.

L Hong · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0


Below is the Calcaneus group:

Broken Heel/Calcaneus Support Group on Facebook.  Closed group, but ping and request access.

Below is the ankle fusion group:  Closed group, ping & request access.


paul c · · AL · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Thanks Hong-- Terry Mushat added me to the groups. Facebooks search engine doesnt seem to work very well for groups.

Michael c · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2017 · Points: 0

So Happy I found this group earlier today it was all Doom and gloom. Shattered my heel(12 Pieces) bouldering outside of Stryn Norway July 13 - dropped from a highball and my left foot went between the 2 crashpads we had pushed together. Surgery with 3 small incisions the 27 July, they put 3 screws in. Apparently the ankle joint itself is perfect... but the the surgeon opened with "it wasn't as nice as I wished* ... all wishy-washy. Traded my cast for a boot this past Thursday. Reading all your stories makes me optimistic for my future, I want to get back in the weight room as soon as possible but i feel like it will be sometime before i can deadlift and squat what I used to.... hopefully 9 years of that will have made some difference in healing time?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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