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  1. #1
    Senior Member kjmillig's Avatar
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    Tips for recovery from a broken tibia?

    I originally posted over in Commuting right after the collision. Now I'm 12 weeks post injury of a broken tibia and beginning recovery. I had x-rays at week 10 and the doctor was confident in natural healing, i.e. no surgery, screws, etc. I get new x-rays at week 14 and hopefully the doc will give me clearance to begin putting weight on it. So far I've only been stretching my ankle/Achilles and knee. My Achilles is VERY tight. Of course I haven't touched my bike during this time.
    About me: Almost 49 years old; 220 lbs; bicycle commuter and lite recreational rider.
    I'm sure others have been where I am now. What was effective for you in helping to regain flexibility and strength? How long did it take before you could consider riding your bike? Any suggestions are appreciated. I understand that each case is individualized and that I should check with my doctor before beginning new exercises.
    Thanks in advance.
    "Pain is weakness leaving the body"......yea, right!

  2. #2
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Dunno.... I presume you're still in a cast? I get mine off tomorrow (I hope). I had tendon surgery in my ankle though, so that's apparently easier to recover from. I have no idea when the doc will give me the go ahead to start riding but i can tell you if I had my way I'd ride home from getting my cast off.

    I'd say you're looking at a solid 8+ weeks of PT after you can bear weight, and it'll take longer than that to get full strength back but you probably don't need "full" strength to do the stuff you enjoy.

    Good luck! Post updates!

  3. #3
    Member slowpedaller's Avatar
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    Well, I had a tibia fracture a few years ago (also from collision), although it involved surgery, and my knee also. I started PT immediately because of the knee involvement. I was riding a stationary bike in PT probably from about 8 weeks, and by 10 or 12 weeks I was going out for bike rides, even though I was non-weight-bearing for 14 weeks also. I just figured I wouldn't unclip that leg unless the bike broke down, and then I would call for a ride. I told my PT I was doing it, and she didn't really object. Just made fun of me a little.

    Biking was not actually a problem for me at all. Walking was painful the first few days.

    In general, at 14 weeks, my doc said the bone was completely healed so I could do anything I wanted.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Keep stretching the ankle etc.
    7 months post op after breaking my tib & fib, my ankle is the main thing holding me back, even though I had the titanium rod driven into an already bad knee.
    I'm still probably 8-10" short of taking a "normal" stride. I'm probably gaining about1/2" more per week.
    I did start riding a bit, 4 months post op, although I couldn't walk with out some means of support.
    I had to use the bike as my "walker" to get to the street and use the curb to mount/dismount.
    I have a hunch the Dr. might not have been real pleased if he knew.
    The main problem with my ankle is side to side movement, like walking on uneven ground, turning etc.
    I am 65, so your "youth" should help.

    BTW, my avatar is the first time without my "boot" and was taken about an hour before my first 2 block "ride".
    Last edited by Bill Kapaun; 06-07-13 at 12:29 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member IBOHUNT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
    I get mine off tomorrow (I hope).
    Good luck. If it comes off will you be able to slam the scooter stem?

  6. #6
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Gotta agree with slowpedaler. I broke my tibia about 30 years ago and liked it so much that I broke it again about 10 years ago. In both cases I had to have surgery. The first one was to put in the hardware and the second one was to take it out since it cause a stress fracture. In both cases, I was on a bike as soon as the cast came off which was 6 weeks. I wouldn't wait 3 months for any break. Heck I got hit by a car, shredded my knee on the pavement had to undergo surgery to repair the damage and I was still back on the bike after 6 weeks.

    Bicycling is a low load sport which you might want to point out to your doctor. I find that it aids healing rather than hindering it. Long convalesces for a minor...and a broken bone is relatively minor...injury hurt more than they help.
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  7. #7
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    I broke my tibia in 2007; got it nailed with screws at the time; had a bone graft to patch the remaining hole around 2009 IIRC; and finally got the hardware out in 2011.

    Quote Originally Posted by kjmillig View Post
    I'm sure others have been where I am now. What was effective for you in helping to regain flexibility and strength?
    I just did normal things and got that back (I couldn't stand on my formerly broken leg at first, and my knee did not bend all the way). Was not doing much for a long time because the hole wasn't growing together and I had nerve pain from a stretched nerve.

  8. #8
    Senior Member kjmillig's Avatar
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    Got my cast off at 8 weeks, but the 10 week x-ray showed steady but slow healing. The doctor told me then to not put weight on it yet. I've made measurable progress in flexibility of the ankle and knee, but still haven't put weight on it other than touching the floor to help stretch the Achilles. I'm hoping to get weight bearing clearance from the doc on my next visit. Next Monday marks week 13.
    "Pain is weakness leaving the body"......yea, right!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Here was my schedule-
    Oct 30- Intermedullary nailing of the tibia.
    Nov 14- The "unwrapping"
    Dec 13- I get the "boot" I still need LOTS of artificial support to "walk" and it sure does hurt!
    Jan 24- First steps WITHOUT artificial support to "walk" and it sure does hurt! Enough that I use artificial support.
    Feb 7- I lose the "boot". I need artificial support.
    Feb 21- 4-6" steps without support.
    Feb 27 1st bike ride. 2 blocks on each bike and then later in the afternoon I totaled it up to 2 miles. I stayed within crawling distance of home.
    Mar 30- Mowed the lawn myself. Ended up using the walker for the rest of the day because of the pain. Next day it was MUCH better than the day before. No gain without pain, sad to say.

    Mowed the lawn 3 times since. Last time I went out for a ride afterwards.

    I know you can do much better!

    Also, in your ankle stretching, don't forget side to side. I didn't think about that aspect and that's where I need a LOT more work.

  10. #10
    Senior Member kjmillig's Avatar
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    6 month update:
    At times I thought this day would never come. 2 months since my last doctors visit. Went in today and had new x-rays taken. My doctor was very encouraged. In the side view he could hardly make out the fracture line since it had a good layer of new bone growth covering it. And I didn't have any surgery.
    Prognosis was that I can now put full weight on it and start working on using no crutches. He cleared me to ride my bike and encouraged me to take walks, ride my bike, and walk up and down stairs to strengthen the leg. Of course I'm still a little timid with it since I've been hobbling around for so long.
    Thanks for all the advice and encouragement. I did use some of the advise on stretching and doing light exercise. My achilles is still just a bit tight but I know it continue to loosen with more exercise.
    I'm nervous and excited at the same time to get back on my bike. I think I'll start with an easy jaunt on Saturday morning before it gets hot or the streets get too busy.
    "Pain is weakness leaving the body"......yea, right!

  11. #11
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Timid is a natural feeling. You'll gain confidence.
    It's been 10-1/2 months for me.
    With the nice weather, I would just jump on the bike instead of walking.
    I rode 70 miles on July 31. Not bad for a 65 yo with emphysema & hybrid.
    Last Sat. I walked 3+ miles. My calf muscle was actually sore the next day, simply because I hadn't been walking much.
    You NEED to WALK! When convenient, exaggerate your stride and make that ankle work.

    My recommendation-
    Even if using the crutches, try to stride a bit more than comfortable. For me, IF I didn't end up hurting some, I didn't have improvement.
    Work into it slowly, so you KNOW you have recovered the next day.
    Once you know you recover the next day, it's a matter of the more pain, the more gain.

    Your cycling miles should increase quite rapidly. You simply don't have to bend the joints (under load) as much.
    Last edited by Bill Kapaun; 09-05-13 at 08:32 AM.

  12. #12
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    Get cracking!

    I kid... I think you'll find that riding a bike is... like riding a bike. You'll be fine. I hopped back on my bike in mid July and I wouldn't say I was timid but the fitness was gone. It's still gone, or at least out of the country on vacation. I finally ramped up my riding to a "normal" workload last week but it's a lot harder than it used to be. Still.

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