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Broke and dislocated my ankle while bouldering

Original Post
Nick Gibson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

I just finished a route a had been projecting for awhile and I finally got it but as I jumped down my right foot missed the pad and I ended up breaking my fibula in 2 places and splitting the tibia down the middle as well as getting a pretty severe dislocation this happens on Friday and I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance where they relocated my ankle and splinted me now I'm scheduled for surgery to get plates and screws put in on the 14th anyway I was just wondering if I'll ever be able to boulder again or if a fall of that height regardless of if I land on the pad will break it again. 

Jon H · · MD/DC · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 123

Your surgeon and your physical therapist will be a far better resource for information regarding your diagnosis, prognosis, and recovery. Even the medical professionals here can't tell you much without seeing your x-rays, performing an examination, etc.

Many people with FAR worse injuries have been able to return to climbing. Your goal now is to heal and do your physical therapy RELIGIOUSLY so that you regain maximum strength and mobility.  Good luck!

Daniel Vega · · Gardena, CA · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

pictures of the wreckage ?

Chris Sheridan · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 1,625

Hey Nick, 

I've been in your situation and I know that shitty feeling of thinking you might not be able to climb again. All I can say is stay positive, be persistant and be patient. It might take a while, and it will certainly take some hard work, but keep after it. Good luck. 

Tzilla Rapdrilla · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 840

Hoping for a speedy recovery for you, Nick.  Roped climbing will likely be preferred down the road.  Hang in there, you'll be back on the rock before you know it.  

Francesca Parratt · · England · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 160

I had a similar situation back in 2013, almost tore the entire foot off (got a wicked, awesome scar). Lots of damage to the bones, multiple crumbling on the fibula and snappage on the tib, couple of ops to put it back together (and remove the dead flesh), metalwork, crutches and a boot, but was back walking, working and climbing within three months.

Keep the weight off until the doctor says to do so and preservere with the physio (it sucks, but works) and hopefully you'll be back on the rocks soon. Take things slow but keep moving/ using it gently once you can. 

I have been extremely cautious ever since when bouldering, and always climb down with white knuckles, but I've skiied, skateboarded, run, and done a whole lot high impact sports with no bad consequences on the recovered limb.

Obviously this is different for each individual, but wish you the best in your recovery and hope you're back on the rocks soon!

PS- sorry for the gore but it is kinda awesome!

Scott Strang · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 3

I had a similar injury (broke fibula in ~5 places down by the ankle) in the fall, had plate and pins put in beginning of October, and began toproping indoors beginning of February with an ankle brace. Suprisingly I felt comfortable climbing on it well before I could even run, but you have to be careful and not take any falls (hence toproping) and stay away from fancy footwork or dynamic moves until the muscles rebuilt and you regain mobility.  Began bouldering after maybe two months of just toproping. My surgeon told me that with a surgery like mine you can expect to be able to do pretty much everything after about 6 months, but you won't feel 100% until a year or to after surgery which so far I can attest to.  As long as you're smart with it and listen to your body you should be good. Best of luck with the recovery

P.S. Consider getting a knee scooter if you want to stay mobile. Beats crutches by far

Nick Gibson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

Thanks everyone for the advice it's good to know people have had injury's like this and been able to boulder again 

Russ Keane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 150

Damn Nick, sorry man.   Like people said, you will be back.  Surgeries are very disruptive at first (painful, shocking, etc) but they work.  In the midst of recovery you feel negative, but before long it heals and life goes on.   Perhaps your leg/foot will never be the same but that does not mean you cannot climb.

David Vogel · · Lake Forest, CA · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 1,330

Hey Nick,

Sorry to hear about your injury. IMHO I agree with a lot that has been said here. You WILL be able to climb again. Last November I had a gnarly ankle injury (tib fib popping out, 8 fractures, lost all my cartilage... so now it is bone on bone, also missing pieces of bone that exploded out of my body... permanent holes in my ankle/foot. 3 plates, 11 screws, 2 surgeries). I used a gear sling as a tourniquet because I was hemoraghing so much blood. Thank God for Helicopters. My pic is similar to Francesca's haha that's an awesome pic! PT isn't always the answer (not for my injury) but I exercise and hike hard and climb on it a lot now (but I can never run again). There was a chance of amputation as well. I am now getting somewhat close to routes I could lead pre-injury. Stoked. 

I don't boulder much, but when I do I am much more careful bouldering than when climbing on gear. Obviously the reason is ground fall. Your bones strengthen a lot over the course of 1-2 years. I can't say for certain, but if your Doctor thinks you can eventually run again (spring forward, jump, etc) at some point then that's an excellent sign that you'll be able to Boulder the same/or harder like you did pre-injury. Even with significant loss of range of motion (as is my case) you can still climb, climbing can be adaptive :) From the limited info you provided, running and jumping will likely be possible in the not-so-distant future, I wish I had your injury!

In the meantime try and stay positive, stay busy, stay social, it can be easy to get depressed and think it's all over.

Also, having extra pad$ will help a lot next season(s). Stack two pads for a much more cushioned impact, or spread out pads so you're less likely to hit the ground, depending on the problem you're working on.

You'll be climbing sooner than you think! Keep your chin up. 

caesar.salad · · earth · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 85

MD here. The fact that most of the damage was to your lower leg bones and that you didn't crush a bunch of bones in your ankle is a good sign for future ankle mobility. Your bones, after they have fully healed, will NOT be weaker for having been broken. Rehab is KEY, as everyone else said. Use the time to hangboard and read the Rock Warrior's Way or something.

Ryan Palo · · Bend, oregon · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 595

Shitty deal man. 7 months out from my fibula break. The bone healed quickly. Ripped multiple tendons in the process. Healing there has been slow going. Rehab everyday. Hurts from time to time, but Im able to boulder just fine. Kneebars with lots of body weight are still a bit difficult. In the beginning supination was the most difficult, risky, and painful. Still is somewhat. Any foot that faced away was hard. No Im able to to use them with minor issue.

Hang in there. Rehab, stretch, and mobilize when you're ok'd to do so. 

Francesca Parratt · · England · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 160
David Fogel wrote:

I used a gear sling as a tourniquet because I was hemoraghing so much blood. Thank God for Helicopters. 

Good move on the gear sling, my headphones were a complete waste of time, another reason freesolo is stupid!

But I did too manage to wangle the cheeky chopper ride, so I nearly lost the foot, but helicopters are awesome!

Glad to hear you're doing well.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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