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2019 Camino Guides

Walking after a broken ankle

Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk around 2022
#1
So my Camino is still a long way off, but last August I badly dislocated and complex-fractured my ankle, which has turned out to be a bigger deal than I ever expected. I’m told it will take at least a year to recover completely, and that some people never fully recover from pain and swelling. I’ve had my first airplane flight and heavy walking trip since the break, with disastrous results - heavy swelling, neuropathy in the foot (numbness, tingling), and pain, to the point that I spent my trip using an electric scooter and needed a week of bed rest to recover.

I am hoping that a couple years in the future things will be better, but wondering if anyone else has walked the Way after an ankle fracture and what worked and didn’t work for you.

Thank you!
 

Anamiri

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#2
I broke bones in my foot, not my ankle, and it was a long time ago. But I find that even now it doesn't take a lot to aggravate that area. I have to make sure that shoes never press on it, and it helps to have expert shoe buying advice, our local store is owned by a guy with good bio mechanics knowledge. Unfortunately the shoes that work the best for me are expensive and wear out quickly, but that is another story.
Walking poles have helped, and putting my feet up when I can. I built a high foot rest under my desk, which was awkward, but worked.
Talk to your doctor about whether compression socks will help. I find that if I have to fly any distance to get there I use good quality compression socks, so I don't have swollen feet to begin with. It really does make a difference for me.
I still have numbness after a days walking sometimes, especially on hard surfaces like concrete and tarmac.
 
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davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#3
So my Camino is still a long way off, but last August I badly dislocated and complex-fractured my ankle, which has turned out to be a bigger deal than I ever expected. I’m told it will take at least a year to recover completely, and that some people never fully recover from pain and swelling. I’ve had my first airplane flight and heavy walking trip since the break, with disastrous results - heavy swelling, neuropathy in the foot (numbness, tingling), and pain, to the point that I spent my trip using an electric scooter and needed a week of bed rest to recover.

I am hoping that a couple years in the future things will be better, but wondering if anyone else has walked the Way after an ankle fracture and what worked and didn’t work for you.

Thank you!
Ankle fractures and recovery are different for each individual; the complications and extent of the injury can be extremely varied.

As an example, my wife's best friend broke hers over 15 years ago, but developed RSD which has been a horrible complication that won't resolve.

Five years ago, while playing fetch with my 98 pound Giant Schnauzer/ Black Lab mix (OK, he's a mutt), he ran headlong into me at high speed which caused a compound fracture requiring open surgery for reduction and the installation of plates and screws, which still remain.

I recovered nicely, and was backpacking again within 4.5 months. I was scrupulous in following recovery guidelines, going to physical therapy, and keeping the ankle increasingly mobile as recovery protocol allowed. I have had no complications, although every once in a while, I feel soft tissue pressure (not pain) from the hardware that's still in there. If that ever becomes too bothersome, I can have it removed.

Since that injury, I have backpacked the entire PCT and Colorado Trail, and have done hundreds of other backpacking miles. No special braces or supports. I walked the Camino Frances from SJPdP to Burgos last September, and will go from SJPdP to Roncesvalles again, then on to Burgos and walk to Leon where I will meet my son. We will then walk together to SdC (God willing).

As I said, each recovery is different, and my story is just one possible outcome. But my prayers and encouragement are with you; be assertive with your provider to have your concerns answered, be consistent with your physical therapy, and make sure your surgeon lets you know what is normal discomfort as you are becoming more physically active, and when you need to back off from exercise and weight bearing and to contact him.
 

Harington

una abuelita inglés
Camino(s) past & future
Vézelay/Francés 2011, Primitivo 2012, VdlP 2013, Via Domitia 2014, Inglés 2015, Francigena 2016
#4
So my Camino is still a long way off, but last August I badly dislocated and complex-fractured my ankle, which has turned out to be a bigger deal than I ever expected. I’m told it will take at least a year to recover completely, and that some people never fully recover from pain and swelling. I’ve had my first airplane flight and heavy walking trip since the break, with disastrous results - heavy swelling, neuropathy in the foot (numbness, tingling), and pain, to the point that I spent my trip using an electric scooter and needed a week of bed rest to recover.

I am hoping that a couple years in the future things will be better, but wondering if anyone else has walked the Way after an ankle fracture and what worked and didn’t work for you.

Thank you!
oh my goodness! I have nothing to offer, save that I am six weeks into recovery from a similar fracture. Now 71, maybe I have to give up hopes of another Camino, but I'm still aiming to recover. Prayers for your future!
 

Harington

una abuelita inglés
Camino(s) past & future
Vézelay/Francés 2011, Primitivo 2012, VdlP 2013, Via Domitia 2014, Inglés 2015, Francigena 2016
#5
Ankle fractures and recovery are different for each individual; the complications and extent of the injury can be extremely varied.

As an example, my wife's best friend broke hers over 15 years ago, but developed RSD which has been a horrible complication that won't resolve.

Five years ago, while playing fetch with my 98 pound Giant Schnauzer/ Black Lab mix (OK, he's a mutt), he ran headlong into me at high speed which caused a compound fracture requiring open surgery for reduction and the installation of plates and screws, which still remain.

I recovered nicely, and was backpacking again within 4.5 months. I was scrupulous in following recovery guidelines, going to physical therapy, and keeping the ankle increasingly mobile as recovery protocol allowed. I have had no complications, although every once in a while, I feel soft tissue pressure (not pain) from the hardware that's still in there. If that ever becomes too bothersome, I can have it removed.

Since that injury, I have backpacked the entire PCT and Colorado Trail, and have done hundreds of other backpacking miles. No special braces or supports. I walked the Camino Frances from SJPdP to Burgos last September, and will go from SJPdP to Roncesvalles again, then on to Burgos and walk to Leon where I will meet my son. We will then walk together to SdC (God willing).

As I said, each recovery is different, and my story is just one possible outcome. But my prayers and encouragement are with you; be assertive with your provider to have your concerns answered, be consistent with your physical therapy, and make sure your surgeon lets you know what is normal discomfort as you are becoming more physically active, and when you need to back off from exercise and weight bearing and to contact him.
Good to hear this. I am beginning to recover from exactly the same (labrador/poodle cross - v heavy fast dog). I am six weeks in! really worrying about future walking. Thanks for posting.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (SJPdP-Burgos, 2015)
Camino Frances (Burgos-Sarria, 2018)
Sarria-Santiago (Oct. 2018)
#6
As stated above, and it bears repeating, all breaks and recoveries are different. But here's my story.

I basically shattered my right ankle about 8 years ago. Even my surgeon said it was much worse than expected once he began operating. I jokingly tell people now I'm a walking ACE hardware store. Any size screw or metal pin you need -- I got It! :)

It took me a good year-plus to feel fully recovered. Six months post surgery it was still difficult to wear regular shoes for any length of time.

But eventually, recover I did. One day I realized I hardly ever thought of my ankle at all. Now, occasionally when the humidity is high, I realize my one ankle is a bit swollen. And only then do I remember why. That's about it.

Two years ago I walked SJPP-Burgos with absolutely no ankle issues whatsoever (blisters and sore feet, on the other hand .... o_O). I leave this weekend for 5 weeks on the Camino, no ankle troubles at all in my training walks with full back pack, varied terrain, both shoes and boots, all kinds if weather. I am 66.

I wore low boots my first time out. Not because of the past injury, but because my ankles have always been wobbly. I will probably take them again, but have successfully walked 10-12 miles in trail runners. Ironically, the ankle with all the hardware is the stronger of the two.

So long story short -- give yourself time. Your body continues to heal for a good year after a break. Do everything you doctors and physical therapists tell you. Get professional advice on your footwear. Work up to things bit by bit.

And most of all, Buen Camino!!
 

linkster

Nunca dejes de creer!
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 05/17 brazo roto Portomarín
Francés 09/17 SJPdP - Santiago
(Portuguese: 09/18)
#7
I broke my left ankle water skiing years ago. My rear foot slipped out of my high wrap bindings while laying into a turn. The left ankle spun like a top. I had to have an open reduction with pins. The pins were taken out about 6 months later. I exercised it as much as possible. I was water skiing the next year. The only residual effect that I have is that my left ankle is now physically bigger than the right, and I have lost about ~5-10° of flexion and extension. It's just the way the bone reformed around the break. It does not cause me any pain, swelling, etc. I think the key is to rehab according to instructions and DO NOT overdue. The bone will heal quicker than the surrounding soft tissue (tendons). Use your trekking poles every day on the way (rhyme intended).

I pray that you will be healthy and strong for your Camino.

¡Buena Suerte Peregrina!:D:cool:
 

Patch

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Leon to Santiago (June 2014)
St Jean to Leon (Sept 2015)
Burgos to Santiago (June 2016)
Porto to Finisterre (June 2017)
#8
I broke mine in my early 40's and walked the Pyrenees a few months after the plaster came of with the aid of a walking stick, foolish maybe but certainly painful. None the less 25 years later I have no problem walking with heavy loads over rough terrain without a stick. Maybe just lucky but certainly worth going for it. My tip take is to take it easy and make full use of the stick
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (SJPdP-Burgos, 2015)
Camino Frances (Burgos-Sarria, 2018)
Sarria-Santiago (Oct. 2018)
#9
Michelle, for what it's worth, I'm doing the math on healing. I had surgery in September, yours was in August, it's now April. I remember trying to put on a pair of 1-inch wedge heels for Easter Mass that April. I gingerly slipped my foot in, took one step, and almost yelled out in pain. So much for that. (Even though I'd been managing in flats. Now and then.) Don't be discouraged by your experiences so far. Give it time. Wishing you all the best.

And PS -- yes, definitely, use poles. :)
 
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jburr3708

James on The Way
Camino(s) past & future
2014 Frances SJPDP
2016 Portugues (with wife)
2017 VDLP
2018 Portugues (with daughter)
#10
I was 71 years old and broke my right ankle in 2014 on day 3 of my VDLP Camino starting in Seville. I was taken by ambulance back to a hospital in Seville where they operated inserting a plate and 9 screws to fix it. A week later I returned to my home in USA. My orthopaedic doctor there told me the operation was perfect and the following year I walked the Camino Portuguese with my wife and a year later completed the VDLP.
Perhaps I was lucky and I still feel stiffness in my ankle which gets better after I walk on it so don't give up! Even after 70 life can go on almost as before.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#11
I broke my ankle about five years ago. It seems to have healed perfectly, I'm not aware of it at all.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Roncesvalle-SDC (2001), SJPP-SDC(2003), Le Puy - SJPP (2011)
#13
Thanks for asking Michelle.. I also broke my ankle last August and am full of plates and pins and still stiff and swollen 9 months later. I don't know if I will ever be able to walk another camino but feel inspired and hopeful from the answers people have given
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances starting SJPdP Sept/Oct 2015, April/May 2017
#14
Just before Christmas 2016, I stepped in a hole in the grass while walking the dog and broke my ankle. Stable, simple break of the tibia, nothing like what you did, Michelle. I was given the choice of plaster or rest for 6 weeks. I chose the rest option because I was booked to walk the CF starting from SJPdP on 2 April 2017 and I know first hand what happens to your muscles when you have to wear a plaster for 6 weeks. All the time I was still caring for my 96 year old mother and my brother’s dog but I did rest as much as possible.

I got medical advice about the advisably of walking 800 km 3 months after breaking my ankle and was told it would strengthen it. It did. By Santiago my ankle was less painful and had regained some flexibility.

The best thing I did before the camino was start swimming again as soon as the 6 weeks were up. I also did ankle exercises. My favourite was writing ABC in the air with my toes. This exercise was recommended by my osteopath. Apparently this combination takes your ankle through its full range of motion. The other important exercise was standing on one leg. I did it multiple times a day whenever I thought of it. And when you get good at doing it, roll up a towel and stand on one leg on the towel. It makes balancing even more of a challenge. Needless to say do it near a wall so that you can put a hand out and stop falling if you lose your balance.

Over 12 months and I still do those exercises three times a week after swimming. My ankle is pretty much back to normal except that it is bigger than the other and probably always will be.

Best wishes for a healthy recovery.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk around 2022
#15
Just an update to this post and a thanks again for your encouragement: it’s just about my one year anniversary of the accident, and I’m feeling much more confident about my future Camino. I was diligent about physiotherapy, and I still “draw the alphabet” with my toes every chance I get.

I’ve purchased a really good treadmill, since I’m a fat girl to start with and gained lots more since the accident. Now on a mission to reduce that weight over the next 18 months and build muscle strength. Walking 3-5 km feels good and the foot aches a little sometimes, but nothing major.

I can definitely see the Camino in my future!
 

RobertB

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
#16
I walked the Camino (SJPDP-Santiago) May9-June 10, 2018. Since I am of Medicare age, I had knee injections (synvisc) one month prior, so I was prepared to do the 790 KM. Unfortunately my last 6 days, descending from Triacastela too fast I sprained my right ankle. The next morning it was the size of a grapefruit. So the Pharmacy offered me "Heavy duty drugs" basically Tylenol/codiene
and I (determined) walked the 100km remaining to Santiago de Compostela, slowly.

Ps I did have several friendly Pilgrims slow down to walk the trail at my pace, bless them and the inflammation finally subsided after my return to Houston. Walking on a sprain ankle...1. Go slow, 2. Use Hiking Poles, 3 Listen to your body, a day or two of rest..perfectly okay. Ice at times during the day and eve (The tapas bars will give you ice because they feel sorry for your condition) and 4 Buen Camino!!!!!!!

Yes, I am doing it again next year.
 

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