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Ballpark healing times?

Discussion in 'Ask your questions here' started by Unregistered, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

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    I'm hoping to reset my healing time expectations. I've been operating under the belief that bone fractures take six to eight weeks to heal. (This has pretty much been the norm for the fractures I've experienced, as well as those near me.) Apparently, I haven't been around any one with foot fractures.

    -> My neighbor (woman in her 50s) broke her fifth metatarsal. After four months the doc said she was about 75% better.

    -> An ultra-runner I know (married to a podiatrist) broke her fourth metarsal and ran a mile at twelve weeks. Ultimately, it was 20 weeks before she could try any slow, gradual training.

    In searching the net, healing times for foot fractures seem to be substantially higher than the six to twelve week bone healing range. (Granted, there are a lot of injury variations and ages of the patients; and the people posting their inquiries are probably the atypical cases.)

    I dropped a drill on my foot but didn't notice discomfort until I went running. I went to urgent care and had an x-ray but no break was visible (end of week 1). I saw an orthopeidst (end of week 2) and an x-ray and MRI scan showed a hairline fracture towards the distal end of my third metatarsal. (He didn't think this type of break could possibly be due to running.) I took NSAIDS and wore a boot for three weeks (i.e., through week five). After graduating from the boot, I experienced the most dramatic swelling my body has ever displayed.

    I"ll at the fourteen week milestone and I'll get another xray within two weeks. I can walk in and out of stores without wondering if I've walked too far, yet I went for a bike ride last week in rigid cycling shoes and it flared it up, not badly, but enough to make me notice.

    So, what should I be prepared for, twenty weeks? Six months?

  2. FootDoc

    FootDoc New Member

    It would seem likely that you are talking about recovery time rather than fracture healing time. Any injury to the feet takes on special significance for several reasons, but most important is the fact that one needs to bear his/her entire body weight on the injured part with complete comfort before complete recovery can be claimed. In few if any other areas of the body is one so incapacitated by the lack of comfortable use of the part. In addition to that, swelling is compounded by the ordinarily dependent position of the feet, and arterial blood supply to the feet, which is required for healing is generally less than in most other areas of the body. Finally, what constitutes recovery is dependent upon the use and stress to which the foot will be subjected in whatever is deemed to be the activity defining recovery. Add to all of that the variance in healing capacity from one person to another, the integrity of the venous and lymphatic returns, the individual's tolerance for pain, the possible existence of concomitant injuries, the possibility of complication, including but not limited to mal-union and non-union, and specific predictions of even ballpark estimates can be quite inaccurate. As with most injuries, each case is, to much degree, a unique event.
  3. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    So, six months? Twelve? Eighteen for being a smart a--? ;^)

    I can appreciate the myriad of variables and the wisdom in outlining them. Can you give me an idea of best and worst case scenarios based upon what you've seen in your practice? Let's assume no major soft tissue damaage, and I promise not to balk if it takes longer.
  4. FootDoc

    FootDoc New Member

    If, as you allege, you had a hairline fracture of a metatarsal, and are still having substantial problems 14 weeks later, it is safe to say that you've by far exceeded the limits which might comport with a "best case" scenario, and it serve no purpose to "suppose" that there was no major sort tissue damage, as there is certainly something else going on here other than just a hairline fracture. Even frank fractures of a metatarsal will generally adequately heal in 6 weeks or so. How long after than any individual patient might engage in full activity is a totally individual matter, and, as I alluded to previously, I have no knowledge of what degree of progress you would deem adequate for you to consider it a recovery. It's not a question that I fear your balking at a possible errant guess. It's a question of whether or not I can responsibly offer you an answer which is based in reality and upon which you can place any credence. And isn't THAT what you are looking for?

    You might recall that Terrell Owens, then of the Philadelphia Eagles incurred what was reported as a far more serious injury than you relate (an ankle fracture) and within 7 or so weeks, including surgery where plates were employed to fix the bone, he played rather well in the Super Bowl in a sport that is far more physically taxing on the area of injury than anything in which you likely engage. Could YOU have done that with the exact same injury and the exact same care? . . I don't know, but I doubt it. You are asking for a judgment which has no bearing on what other have experienced, but the only person who might offer a reasonable estimate is your attending doctor.
  5. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Thanks. This tells me I'm now ready to embark upon the "something else" healing phase.
  6. Vix

    Vix New Member

    To the poster, I know you must feel very frustrated. I also feel very frustrated as I am more than 12 weeks into the healing time, and still not better. But I do really think (and I am learning more and more from this experience) that every single foot fracture is an entirely different case and each case has different complexities. It seems to me that breaking other bones in the body (and I'm not trying to diminish the severity of other bone breaks) is a much more "cut and dry" experience, with more predictable recovery times. Our feet need to serve us for so many years and if they don't heal properly, the problems could be with us forever.

    I think the main thing is our bodies definitely let us know when we're trying to do too much too soon, and the best course of action we can take is to listen to them.

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