ASR 11:35am May 7 2012
It takes at least a year to fully recover, whether you have surgery or not. That's just a fact.
You may be WALKING on that leg sooner if you have surgery, but walking is not the same thing as fully healed.
The myth of 6-12 weeks of recovery time is based more on the average time a person is inconvenienced by a general bone break. Arms, fingers, ribs, etc., can feel fairly normal after 6 weeks of bone healing, but they don't have to endure the stress of carrying your entire body weight, and they're not subjected to the high impact activities a leg is designed to handle.
Leg bones are particularly slow to heal because the way they're designed for blood flow REQUIRES weight bearing for optimal circulation. Bone healing needs good circulation. Add to that, that swelling impedes healing, and gravity results in swelling unless your leg is kept unnaturally elevated most of the time while you're NWB. It's a Catch 22.
There are positives and negatives to both surgical and non surgical approaches. Most of us here that had HW installed had no choice. Our injuries would not have healed right, or at all, without it. Other people clearly do not need HW for a successful recovery. Some people are borderline cases, where it's a coin toss to do surgery or not.
The downside to a borderline case going the non surgical route is that there's definately going to be longer time in casts, and that will lead to a longer recovery period for regaining muscle mass, strength, and function.
The main downsides to the surgical route are #1, increased risk of infection, #2, nerve damage during surgery, and #3, potential pain & ROM restriction caused by HW and/or scar tissue, requiring additional removal surgeries & varying recovery times for those surgeries.
Yes, it undoubtedly sucks to be in a cast, or series of casts, month after month, but when you're done, you're done. Your bones will continue to heal, increase in density, and remodel until they're very close to their pre-break condition. Those of us w/ HW are more likely to deal with weather related aches, limited ROM, and HWR surgery at the 1-2 yr mark. Our bones may never achieve really good density if the metal is strong enough to support our weight (mine actually caused a non-union), and we may be more prone to another fracture - primarily at the ends of our HW because there's an unnatural stress between the rigid metal and our somewhat flexible bone. If you're an athlete, you also may have issues with HW discomfort because of it's rigidity. Normal bone absorbs shock and flexes with normal impact activities... the metal doesn't.
Not that great of a trade off for being WB a few weeks or even months sooner.
Fully recovered from Pilon tib/fib
2 Plates, 10 screws, 2 HWR's,
1 Plate & 3 Screws left