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Removing fibular rod/screws after seven years?
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Removing fibular rod/screws after seven years?

Due to severe osteoporosis, my mom (at 69yo) spontaneously fractured her left tibia and fibula -- while simply walking down the stairs. At that time the doctors convinced her to keep the fibular rods and screws in place.

Today, some seven years later, she has completely reversed her osteoporosis [to mild osteopenia] using supplements (e.g., strontium, vitamin K2, vitamin D3, calcium/magnesium/phosphorus) and exercise. However, she still feels pain and discomfort in her left leg due to the fibular rod and screws -- especially in humid environments or after physical exertion. Therefore she is contemplating having them removed.

My question is: after seven years of bone growth would removal be feasible? And exactly how much risk and recovery time is there involved for a 76yo otherwise healthy and active woman?
Tags: fosamax, tums
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Avatar_n_tn
I have a rod and screws in my femur.  In Osteology, I learned that I could have it removed but my bone would be fragile and hollow down the center.  It would take many months for the bone to regenerate soild, and you would essentially be unable to put any weight on it, meaning your mother would be in a wheelchair or on crutches. With every year in age, bone regeneration slows, so it could be at least six months.  Plus, there is a risk of infection and complications from surgery that you must consider.   Furthermore, I would check with an orthopaedic doctor, as it sounds as if she has bursitis, a treatable form of arthritis that may develop due to trauma.  I had this in my knee from the surgeons drilling in the screws.  

I was thinking about getting the rod removed several years ago, as even when I was 19 years old I had the same discomfort symptoms as your mother. My friend's brother pulled me aside and actually handed me the rod that he had removed from his leg.  He was 20 years old, and said that the experience of having the rod removed was by far more traumatic and painful than breaking the bone in the first place.  My surgeon also told me, "We can remove it, but there's no reason to, with every healed fracture there may be sensitivity to humidity, etc.  Plus, with this titanium in there, you will NEVER break this bone again."  So, that was eleven years ago...and I am fine. My advice: Keep the rod.  She will never break those bones again if she falls, the rehab is too much and I don't think more trauma to remove the rod  will stop the symptoms she is having.  Buy a tempur-pedic mattress (or a good knock-off); I sleep so much better and I can lay on the offending hip without pain.  Good Luck!
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Avatar_f_tn
I am on the other side.  I had a rod in my femur for 14 years without a problem.  Then suddenly, without any warning, it starting becoming very painful.  What had happened was that it had started to inch upward and was rubbing and twisting against the tendons, muscles and nerves, which was extremely painful.  I made the decision to have it removed.  It took them a bit longer to get out than they had anticipated because bone had grown so much around it, but they got it out without too much problem.  And the pain I was having is gone.  I do, of course have new pain, from the surgery.  That is to be expected.  I can put weight on it though, as much as I want.  I started using just one crutch only a week after surgery.  It's not so bad.  It will take about 4-5 more weeks for the bone to fully grow back in.  And in the mean time I am taking Strontium, Vitamin D3, Calcium, Boron and Women's Daily Vitamins.  Also having a rod in your leg does not mean that you won't break that bone again.  It does mean that if you were to break that bone again, it would be extremely hard to fix beause the rod would be all bent and twisted inside the bone.  I recommend weighing your options.  If she is in a lot of pain then talk to the doctor....get blood work, make sure it's not a bone infection, get a bone scan done.  And if it is still painful, remove the rod, if it's right for her.  
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks guys. I appreciate the real world responses. Gives some food for thought, and lets me know what to expect. Too bad we weren't aware of those aforementioned supplements as a preventitive measure, as they really do help build bone and reverse osteoporosis. Instead my mom took Fosamax and Tums (calcium carbonate) as the doctor suggested, which was more or less a disaster.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello everyone,

I have a rod\screws in my tibia for 5 years. Recently I've developed Pes Burstis because the screw near my knee is rubbing against the tenden. Has anyone had just the screw out? What was your healing time? How painful was it-- removal and recover?

Thxs
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Avatar_m_tn
Hello, I have had a rod in my tibia for almost three years Im 32  and it was following an off road accident. I have been experiencing pain and discomfort ever since,its mild but  I cant run or jump. Last week I had surgery to remove scar tissue in my knee around the insertion of the rod and the doctor removed the screw from up by my knee, leaving the two other screws down by my ankle. The surgery was exactly seven days ago and I really havent felt to much if any pain from the surgery and I can walk unassisted but I choose to use 1 crutch cause sometimes my knee feels like it can buckle. As of yet I dont know if I will be free of the pain and discomfort because I  am not fully healed. But the surgery was really simple and I give it a 2 or 3  on the painscale of 10. I am debating on removal of the rod, but the stories seem to lean fifty fifty on weather its a good idea or a bad one..I guess each case is different. Good luck to us all!
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Avatar_f_tn
I ended up on this site looking for comments on recovery time for removal of screws from the knee.  I just had surgery yesterday to remove both screws that were inserted 3.5 years ago after a femur fracture.  The screws mainly bothered me when they poked into the muscle tissue upon bending, squatting, lunging... any activity where I'd have to bend it/use it.
I didn't expect the surgery to be so traumatic or painful.  I just had a local anisthetic and the procedure took 1.5 hours rather than the usual 15 mins because the ortho couldn't find the right screwdriver.  It took 4 attempts with dif tools, pulling and yanking on them before they came out.  Since the anisthetic wore off, I've been in crazy amounts of pain, and can't even walk on it (something the doctor did not warn me about).  I'm not sure if my reaction is more severe because of all of the aggravation my knee suffered in the surgery, or if this is just 'standard'.
I'd love to hear other's opinions/views/stories on the removal of JUST the screws.  Perhaps I should have researched these things before having the surgery, but I just didn't NOT having it done as an option.  I want full use of my knee back!!!
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Avatar_m_tn
I am getting 2 screws removed from my kneecap on July 28.  Although you went the "local" route, I will be going the "general" route.  Knock me out!!

I'm hoping that after the removal of the screws, I'll be able to walk up and down stairs without pain, among other things!

Best of luck to you.
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Avatar_f_tn
I had a rod inserted in my femur when I was 16 after a sledding accident.  I'm 27 now.  I think it was about a year after it was put in I got the screws down by my knee removed.  Like many of you, I experienced pain when bending, or doing any kind of heavy lifting or walking up and down stairs.  This was 10 years ago when I was still a teenager so I don't quite remember everything about the screw removal process, but I can tell you that the whole procedure was very quick, and recovery time was quick as well.  The worst affect I had from the screw removal was the nausea I experienced from the anesthesia.  I'm very glad I got that screw removed.

Now, 10 years later I am experiencing major pain and discomfort in my hip, and numbness in my leg.  It's hard to get in and out of the car, roll over in bed, or even sit in certain positions.  I'm contemplating getting my rod removed.  

Good Luck!
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Avatar_f_tn
16 years ago, I fell asleep driving while moving. Fortunately, I was the only one involved and injured. I was thrown and had a vertical shear fracture up spine. Among  multiple other injuries, my humerus was shattered. I have had this IM rod for 16 years, now. I am concerned about the long-term effects of having this older ORIF (Open Reduction Internal Fixation) rod. Tendons catch on the screw and I have limited range of motion, bilateral scapular dyskenisis, and cervical myofascial pain (knots and pain). I am hoping to get a new Physical Therapy routine, since my original was lost long ago. My concerns are both structural and chemical. I don't even know the chemical composition or manufacturer of my "installment." I have had many odd "barometric" sensations, excessive perspiration on that arm, asymmetrical  shortened muscles, and related aches and pains.  I'm scared to death to have the rotary cuff cut again and don't want to risk infection, but I do believe that the rod negatively affects my health.  Can you have a large chunk of metal installed in your body without any health risks? I am grateful to have an arm that "works," but would like to weigh the cost/benefits of IM rod removal. Has anyone had an IM rod removed from their humerus? Any research about this out there?
Does anyone know why nurse's aides are told to not take your blood pressure on the arm with an IM rod?
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Avatar_f_tn
I had a displaced fracture to neck of femur following a running accident in which I hit black ice and flew (and then, alas, landed).  After 9 months, I have just had the screws removed as they were causing unbearable pain, having migrated into a place where they plucked my outer thigh muscles and curtailed movement.  I realise everyone is different, but for me the screw removal operation was a breeze compared to the original operation of fixture.  It's only been two days, and my leg is sore and swollen, but I can move and get about easily if I don't put much weight on the injured leg yet (not for several weeks, to protect from refracture until stronger) and feel little need for painkillers, compared to the twilight zone horror that was my original fracture and concussion.  I feel an immense relief of pain and nerve irritation I had from my migrated screws.  This after two days. . came home the day after the operation.  The operation for removal seems much less traumatic to me and the scar is exactly the same size.  They did leave a washer in, though, by mistake, (couldn't find it), which means I won't drip (sorry, sorry, not funny).  Good luck to all my fellow rods and screws.
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1583036_tn?1296627617
I have rods in both femurs, now only my right tibia as well as a wire around my left femur. I really wanted all of the rods out two years ago, since I was only 19 at the time and the car crash I had been involved in (drunk driver hit me) had been only 2 years before that. So the left tibia rod came out as well as all the screws (there were 6)-the screws had been poking out of my skin and rubbing against my shoes and clothes a lot.
Hours after the surgery, i was walking on my right leg and using a crutch with my left leg. I couldn't put weight on my left leg for a week though. I was worried about them having to dislocate my knee again and after the fact, I wish I hadn't had this surgery. My left knee slips out of place all the time now (it didn't the 2 years before this surgery).

I was also wondering if anyone has experience with titanium wires on femurs. Can they bend easier?
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Avatar_f_tn
I have had my IM nails in my right femur, and both sets of tibia and fibula  now for 5 years and I am only 19. I have found that as my weight fluctuates so will my pain. I had to have one of the screws closest to my knee removed 3 months after the initial surgery for the rods. It helped me greatly and I now have no problems with mobility of my knee. There was minor pain after the surgery to remove the screw; I had to wear a stabilizer for about 2 weeks and then it was basically pain free. I am starting to have problems now with my hips where I walk differently due to my rods. I am going to get special inserts for my shoes this week so hopefully that will fix that problem. I still have issues if I even try to jog. But as long as participate in low impact exercise my legs usually do not hurt.
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Avatar_m_tn
had femur broken in car accident.......... lost almost an inch in length - rod has been in 8 yrs - now having joint problems ... even with old shoulder injury .......hoping someone can give me advice in keeping rod or losing it............ in pain a lot with knee, hip, break point, and even shoulder.........  is this from body fighting titanium rod or something else?
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Avatar_f_tn
Are You able to walk up and down the stairs...I am having the same procedure done? Please let me know at your earliest convenience.
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Avatar_m_tn
I had my rod for year and a half, it was causing me lots of pain, I removed the rod and the screws and all the pain is completely gone, I'm still recovering from the surgery 2.5 weeks ago, but thank god its all behind, it was the best decision I've ever done.
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