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Athletic Training

Torn ankle ligaments and fracture fibula



I had a surfing accident and tore the ligament around my right ankle and fractured my fibula midway up the leg about 7 weeks ago. Xrays showed the foot had slipped from the joint so I had surgery and now have a plate down the fibula along with a plate and two long screws through the Fibula and Tibia holding the foot in place. I recently started putting pressure on my foot and continue to walk without krutches but with a removable cast (boot).

My question is: I have extremely limited veritcal or horizontal range due to the screws and swelling. My Orthopedic physician did not recommend PT and I`m curious to whether I will have issues with rehabing the foot while the screws remain? They`re not coming out for another 3 months.


Hopefully, your surfing accident didn't put too much of a damper on your summer, but back to your question about the screws.  From what you describe, it sounds as though the physicians had to stabilize the mortise joint of the ankle. You may have been getting too much separation between the two long bones of the leg, necessitating these screws to stabilize the area. Having those screws in place facilitates healing, but it does limit your rehab initially. Once the screws come out, you should be able to get back to a more traditional rehab course. 

I would ask your orthopedic surgeon for more specific restrictions as to motion and strengthening exercises based on the surgery that he/she did to allow good healing. Good Luck!

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Response by:

Janine   Oman, MS, PT/ATC Janine Oman, MS, PT/ATC
Assistant Athletic Director
Instructor at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University