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Tibial rod, knee pain, removal... So many questions!
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Tibial rod, knee pain, removal... So many questions!

Hi everyone,

I'm a 37 year old who broke her right tibia & fibula a year ago yesterday and had a tibial rod fitted, I'm not sure if it's titanium or stainless steel.  I was blessed with a quite quick recover and a few weeks ago even stepped my exercise regime up a notch to high cardio workouts at the gym.

Ever since the rod was put in I have frequent had knee pain.  Not quite constant but there most of the time.  It's worse after exercise, even walking.  I can't do lunges at the gym or I end up in some serious pain.

I also have a lot of discomfort where the screws are fitted.  If anyone touches this area it's so uncomfortable I can hardly bear it.

My specialist indicates that rod removal is something I really should decide on in the very near future.

I've been looking around on the internet trying to make my mind up but I feel just as confused as ever.

I feel like I have so many questions and no really clear answers.

What are the risks of leaving the rod in? Things like avascular nerosis, rebreak complications and similar are scary but what is the likelihood of them happening? What are the real risks later in life if the rod is left in?

If the rod is removed how likely is it that my knee pain going to improve? What's the likelihood of removal helping my knee problems?  And will I really be up and about almost normally in a week?  I have a 1.5" scar where the rod was inserted, how big is this likely to get with removal?  What could go wrong if I get the rod removed?

I'm guessing the discomfort around the screws will go away with their removal.  Is screw removal without rod removal an option? And what would the risk of that be?

I'm sorry to dump so many questions here.  It's just really confusing and scary. I wish someone could just tell me what to do.

Thanks in advance for any advice or experiences anyone can share.

Regards,
Miranda
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi,

I am a 58 year old woman who suffered a compound fracture of the tibia in my right leg in 2008 as the result of a motor vehicle accident.  I had the titanium rod and plate removed from my leg and ankle after several months and made a full recovery.  My ankle was also freed up during the removal operation and my mobility increased as I had a pinched nerve in my leg from the rod so it was quite a relief.  I then responded much more positively to physio and exercise.  I still have some nerve sensitivity in my ankle and down my leg but it is not intolerable.

Unfortunately in May 2010 I slipped and fell near my swimming pool and sustained tibial plateau fracture of my left leg.  7 months on after having 7 weeks in a wheel chair with non-weight bearing, several months on crutches, I am now dependent on a walking stick but moving much better.  I am having weekly physio sessions and have returned to my personal trainer for strength training.  However, to this day I am still suffering from severe pain in my knee and down my leg where the rod is and wonder if I should have it removed earlier than the 2 years predicted by my surgeon.  I also suffer from low back pain, hamstring and and tightness in the gluteus maximus.  I have adhered to all the stretching exercises prescribed and try to walk as much as possible as sitting is not good for tight glutes/ham strings.  I also work out in my heated pool and go to the beach so I can relax in the salt water.  I regularly take glucosamine tabs, magnesium for cramps and have regular epsom salts baths.  At the moment I am very disillusioned about my recovery but am not one to give up.  

I am considering approaching my surgeon to remove the rod and plate, however, prior to my car accident and fall, I underwent chemo and radiotherapy for breast cancer so have low bone density and am concerned that removal of the rod will put me at risk for further fractures!

Any comments or advice from your personal experiences would be gratefully appreciate.

Kaye
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Avatar_f_tn
I had a IM rod and 4 screws inserted after a motor vehicle accident in 2005 (i was 17) to help a compound fracture of my left tibia (fibula was fractured but didn't need assistance) and I have had knee and ankle pain since, in my X-rays it looks as though they have allowed for extra growth because of my age at the time of the operation. I had the screws removed after a year of an intense pinching pain at the site of their install. Unfortunately it looks as though I don't have the option of removal. I would have opted for it as well. I would rather have a few extra months recovery than this constant discomfort or pain when exercising. ( so intense I cannot run/ jog or jump)
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Avatar_m_tn
I had this surgery in 2010 and it ruined my life.

Constant pain in my knee and ankle.

Orthopedists need to WAKE UP and TELL their patients about the REAL RISKS of these procedures:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18758282
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Avatar_m_tn
I have pain at the site of the top screws by the knee.   Did removal of the screws help your symptoms at all?   I am an athlete and I am having pain from the site of the proximal (top) screws up into the back if my knee/ hamstring tendon (inside part behind knee).  Wondering if the screw removal helped you?   I'm 5 months post op.  my bone is healed  I am squatting heavy again, jumping (not very good tho)  Thank you
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