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Injury recovery time - is 4-6 weeks really necessary?

Original Post
Callie Callaway · · Carbondale, CO · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 25

Wanting some insight into what others have experienced with injury recovery time. Athletes are the worst patients, right?

Diagnosis: high ankle sprain (torn AFTL) with a fractured fibula and non-displaced fractured posterior malleolus - no surgery recommended
 
Ortho doc said 4-6 weeks non-weight bearing + immobilization for the malleolus fracture (basically the lower back of the tibia), as well as a higher fracture in my fib.
The worst of the soft tissue injuries was a mostly torn ATFL; a bunch of partial tendon/lig tears as well. There was NO visible instability or widening of the bones in imaging two weeks ago.

It's been 4 weeks post accident; 2 in a boot and (mostly) non-weight bearing since the initial fall 4 weeks ago. Doesn't hurt anymore. Follow up appointment is 2 weeks out.

Any opinions on whether or not complete immobilization/no weight is really good for this amount of time? Or if a little stress on the injury while it's recovering is good?
Personal experiences with pushing suggested Sitting On Your Ass time?

It no longer hurts, with careful weight bearing, which I've played with. I can walk flat surfaces relatively pain free, but with a limp.

BTW - All of this from a super hard catch on a steeper route. Know and trust your belayers, guys..  

Thanks in advance, and please save any snarky comments for the border wall posts, 'cause as much as I appreciate reading the creatively worded jabs on these forums, I'm sort of still pissed over being hurt and frankly not in the mood to be a target today. 

Long Ranger · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 331

If I was you, I'd wait two weeks more and wait to get the docs pro opinon. Two weeks will go by quickly. It would be terrible to (1 do more harm than good (2 find out that things are worse than first diagnosed.

Ryan Palo · · Bend, oregon · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 570

Took about 6 weeks to get back to climbing with mine. TR only. Could hobble about 1/2 mile to the crag ~3 month posts. Was back to climbing hard/taking falls in about 5 months. Took a couple very large falls ~7 months out. One where it felt tweaked. Took it easy from there till about 12 months out. Throughout, I had swelling. Iced + elevated + did rehab. At 13 months I got surgery to repair my taular dome and reattach the torn ligaments (Guessing mine was a big worse than yours). From surgery to back to running, skiing, surfing, heavy packs was about 6 months + rehab 2/week.

My advice would be to get an MRI and toss the season. Better to climb well at full strength than climb half assed with potential to permanently injure yourself; it's a lifelong sport after all.

Russ Keane · · Asheville, NC · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 170

Not being snarky.  But are you kidding me?  Every injury is different.   Yours seems complicated.    None of us on this website know anything about your injury.

Ben VanderStouw · · Rochester, NY · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 85
Russ Keane wrote: Not being snarky.  But are you kidding me?  Every injury is different.   Yours seems complicated.    None of us on this website know anything about your injury.

This. 

Don P. Morris · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 0

Doctor knows best.  Explain your ambition and goals and seek his advice.  nothing wrong with getting a second,medical opinion.  Us guys on the internet know zilch about your fracture.

Robert Townley · · Shorewood, WI · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

Callie
I have experience working with surgeons, sports massage therapists, and physical trainers because of a torn rotator cuff ligament, torn knee meniscus and bone marrow bruises in my tibia and femur. What I think I have learned from them and from rehabilitating my own body is that...
1) immobilization (six weeks) of torn and surgically repaired tendons followed by 4-6 weeks of stretching followed by weight training is the key to complete recovery. I think you should think of tendon tears as very similar to ligament tears. Tendons and ligaments are in a different category to muscle and bone.
2) strength, mobility and performance will return with vigor if you weight train, stretch, massage and rest properly.
3) Ice, and rest.
4) Rest.
kapiche?
have fun,
Rob 

Katia M · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0

I'll tell you what I tell myself and friends: wait another two weeks as recommended, or possibly wait forever (or at least lot longer than two weeks) because you got impatient and stressed it before it was completely healed and now it's messed up permanently.

lucander · · Stone Ridge, NY · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 258

An orthopedic specialist told you something you don’t want to hear so now you’re looking for random people on the internet to.....

climber pat · · Las Cruces NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 241

It took me 6 weeks for a similar sounding injury.

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 167

Lets see, you could trust the opinion of someone with multiple years of specialized medical education and experience, someone who has been able to look at the injury, including detailed images of it, or you could ask random strangers on the internet what they think.

Don't be an idiot, trust your doctor.  If you want to shorten the time, go back after a couple of weeks and see if the recommendation has changed.

Meredith E. · · Bainbridge Island, WA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

Two options: listen to the expert (your doc) or even get a second opinion (likely to be the same given the fracture you described) and just suck it up for two more weeks and then ease back into it or, ignore the expert, do your own thing and risk displacing that fracture which will put you worse off, in need of a surgical repair, and another full 6-8 weeks non-weightbearing minimum.

4-6 weeks sucks, but full recovery is worth it.  I was totally non-weightbearing for 14 weeks after a Lateral Tibial Plateau Fracture, and it sucked, but I sucked it up, waited it out, and while it took a while to build that muscle back, I'm back to all of my former activities.  Think of it as a training reset and an opportunity to change things up when you start up again.

Kief Manning · · Elgin, AZ · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

Just go climb and send me all your gear when screw it up worse and you can’t climb anymore. You can trust me. I have been to the doctor before so I know what I am talking about. 

Mark Frumkin · · Bishop, CA · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 11

A hard catch broke your Fibula? 

Callie Callaway · · Carbondale, CO · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 25

Thanks for the two sort of helpful comments, and thanks to my friend Andy who actually texted me his own experience with surgeons/ortho docs..
 I work in healthcare, so I'm familiar with the recovery process. I'm also familiar with "suggested to cover our asses against a malpractice suit" v. this is what you may actually benefit from.

Getting more opinions is a valid option but also quite expensive. I was looking to have you guys share your own recovery/rehab experiences and time frames - not solicit me to "listen to my doc."  Not trying to run a marathon or hop back on my proj, guys; weighting my foot in the shower and walking point A to B over crutching.

@Kief Manning - really? 

Jimmy Downhillinthesnow · · Bozeman, Montana · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 10

ED doc here. That’s a bad injury. If it were a simple fracture, maybe you could push it a bit, but those ligament injuries sound pretty serious. Listen to your orthopedist. A repeat tear would be a real bummer.

Stu Hopkins · · Logan, UT · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 30

I've had lot's of ankle problems with them healing at different rates. Realize that their recommendations are just numbers. Everybody and every injury heals differently. I've been on both sides of the coin with a "5 week" ankle sprain taking 8 weeks and a "12 week" full ankle reconstructive surgery taking 9 weeks. IMO once it stops hurting work it out a little and see how it does. The key is to stop using it when form collapses not when it gets "tired". If you have to compensate anything in anyway then you are just doing yourself a disfavor. Usually this means taking things really slow but builds the correct muscles. Again stop when form collapses not when it starts to feel weak if that makes sense. Anyways there's only one person that truly knows your body and that is you. Plus the only one that has to accept the consequences in the end.

Kief Manning · · Elgin, AZ · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
Callie Callaway wrote: Thanks for the two sort of helpful comments, and thanks to my friend Andy who actually texted me his own experience with surgeons/ortho docs..
 I work in healthcare, so I'm familiar with the recovery process. I'm also familiar with "suggested to cover our asses against a malpractice suit" v. this is what you may actually benefit from.

Getting more opinions is a valid option but also quite expensive. I was looking to have you guys share your own recovery/rehab experiences and time frames - not solicit me to "listen to my doc."  Not trying to run a marathon or hop back on my proj, guys; weighting my foot in the shower and walking point A to B over crutching.

@Kief Manning - really? 

Yep. Really. You are asking for medical advice on a website/app of strangers who you don’t know their background. And some dont know their backside from a whole in the ground. You don’t know they even exist really. I could ask you the same thing. Really? 4-6 weeks is not much for a fracture or any injury. I was hoping you caught the sarcasm and realized you could live another couple weeks without exacerbating your injury. Common sense brother. Hope you are doing better. Listen to your doctor. Hangboard. Campus. Whatever you got to do but why risk further injury? Really?

Kevinmurray · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 0

They call it practicing medicine for a reason because many times doctors don't really know how long some conditions will take one to recover from but in breaks, tears, sprains they know exactly how long recovery will take. Broke the same bone in the same leg in different places and different severity of breaks and both doctors told me recovery time and they were exactly right. So go ahead and push it and see how it feels in 20 years.

Kevin X · · Boulder · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0

I wouldn't push it. Work on your core, campus board. Rehab some smaller injuries. Damaging things before they're fully healed is a serious bummer. I have a fractured lateral malleolus that I neglected to rest, and neglected PT for and now it continues to bug me 2 years after the accident.

Let it rest, wait till xrays confirm good healing, and then move on to PT. Please don't rush through this and end up with a permanently janky ankle like mine.

Logan Hugmeyer · · Salem · Joined Jan 2019 · Points: 5

Listen to your doctor. If you don't do that then at the very least listen to your body. Dont push it and end up in worse shape requiring even more recovery time.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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