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@don34 Don, I do not think removing hardware or partially removing it will change anything with tightness and numbness unless your tibia and fibula have been screwed together. That is a discussion to have with your surgeon after you have an opinion from the new specialist and/or a good physical therapist about what is possible. My surgeon would not remove any hardware until it had been in place at least a year, and I was at 16 months post op when it was removed. It takes longer for the ligaments and tendons to heal.

The numbness may be from nerve damage. Sometimes peripheral nerves can heal, but that takes a long time, and can be more than a year. I still have some stiffness in my ankle, but it is not tight anymore and keeping the parts moving correctly helps that a lot. The tightness comes a lot from the muscles on the stronger side beating up the weaker side because they can't counteract the strength. With physical therapy you stretch, but also need to rebuild strength on the weaker side as best you can. My difficulty with that was walking on uneven ground and having to stabilize my ankle in mud when I was out doing horse feeding chores. I was doing the least amount of steps as possible and getting a lot of fatigue and pain. It was a long winter being careful on ice and snow, then the months of mud in the spring and frequent rains. I wasn't sure how long this recovery can be to get back to my maximum recovery and my podiatrist couldn't really answer that either as it must vary with a lot of individual factors. I have wondered if it could be as much as 5 years.

I am encouraged and happy about my recent advances just in the last few weeks without the brace and want to try walking and hiking more to build endurance. What I can tell you is that when you have a high impact fracture with some added speed from a bicycle or moving horse, it tends to be a worse fracture. Mine was what they call a bimalleolar fracture, in simple terms, the "knobs" on both sides of the ankle (formed by the tibia and fibula) were sheared off. The front of my tibia was like puzzle pieces because of compression of flexing my foot into the ground on impact. If your surgeon were to remove hardware, he may not want to leave some of it there, and there is a reason there are at least 3 screws with plates so they can't move; he would probably remove the entire plate instead of leaving too few screws in place. That could also depend on how difficult it is to remove. The tricky part on mine was a screw inside my fibula, but he did get it out. The plates screwed to the outside of the tibia were easy to remove.

Knee problems come when you have alignment problems in your leg because something changes and you start walking differently. MFR therapy can help a lot with body alignment and more normal movement. If you get any pain in the knee, talk to a physical therapist or specialists about it, because if it is left alone, it can lead to uneven wear an tear, and this is what causes problems that can lead to knee replacements. It is possible that surgical hardware can limit your movement and lead to other joint problems, so do ask that question if that could happen to you. The recovery after hardware removal was not nearly as hard as the recovery right after the injury, so don't let that influence your decision. I'm thinking it seems to be about half the time at least in my case.

Second opinions are good. Would you let me know what you find out? I think I can help. Would you like to talk about the fear?

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Replies to "@don34 Don, I do not think removing hardware or partially removing it will change anything with..."

Hi Jennifer,

Your input has been helpful. My common sense tells me your right about the screws having very little to do about the tightness. It’s been a little over a year so I need to give it some more time. My surgeon said he thinks the tightness will improve however the numbness may be a different story. I will give that time, however most of time I don’t dwell on that and can live with it. I just hope the tightness resolves. As for my knee it stiff but improving and there is pain just below the knee cap due to one of the screws at the top of the rod that was inserted through my tibia. My surgeon said that can be removed easily in an outpatient procedure, a 15 minute operation, so I’m thinking of asking him about that. It certainly sounds like you have been on a long journey in your healing process. Right now I am gathering as much information as possible so I make the best decisions. As far as fear goes you have helped me step back and try and be a little more patient with my recovery. Thanks!