Broken ankle

Hello, I am trying to get some advice on a medical standards question which must probably crop up quite often.

I broke my ankle last summer on a sports sky-diving course (tri-malleolar fracture), and had a plate and lots of screws put in. It's healed pretty well, and I have no problem running, doing sport etc. The only issues I have now is the occasional soreness after hard running, and pain if I bang the area where the screws are, which is right under the inside ankle. The screws probably affect my range of movement as well (not that you would notice with boots on).

As I'm coming up to a year since the operation, I am quite keen to have another operation to have the screws taken out, for the reasons above, but I am a reservist and am thinking of volunteering for a mobilisation next year and don't want to spend ages medically downgraded because of a second operation. Was wondering what the score is. Have tried to get answers through the unit, unsuccessfully so far.
I am sorry to hear about your injury. As you ilustrate, tri-malleolar fractures can be very nasty and sometimes lead to permanent disablity.

It sounds as if your unit have let you down really by doing little or nothing about your occupational health needs re you the Army. Sadly, this is so often the case in the TA. One Army? Mmmm.

I am wiilling to bet that you have not seen a Service doctor since you have been injured and not been downgraded. Still P2 FD?

I would certainly get the metal work removed if possible get into rehabilitation / physiotherapy.

You need to pressure your unit into getting you to a medical board (probably full board) to assess your problems. The board will be able to point the way forward and assess your potential for rehabilitation / return to service and / or mobilisation. You may need to see a service orthopedic surgeon.

Did you get injured on Army time? Even more reason for them to sort it out. Compensation for time off work etc?

Don't get caught into what I call "The Numbers Game" when it comes to mobilsation. This is played mostly by some twats amoung the Senior Ranks who are keen to get a name against a number even if that name has one leg, three arms and half a brain (looks good to the boss). This leads to dispair in any medical officer whom comes across these people and strong words to the relavent SNCO.

If you have any problems with your unit let me know. They need to get thier arse in gear.
Cant help you on the reservist front, but I've goit a few bits of metal in me aswel.

Whats your doc said about removing the screws? When I asked about it I was told I could spend several hours in theatre and they might still not be able to get the screws out, and that it was better all round to just leave them in. Mine however are not in my ankle, but might worth bearing in mind. Taking them out could do more harm than good.

Just consulted the good book on this (JSP 346 Chap 4).

Basically, asymptomatic metalwork can be graded P2. Removal of metalwork has a significant complication rate.

Bottom line is that you need a med board.

I'll revise my advice and say:

1. Push for a med board.
2. Get all your details, letters etc off your orthopedic surgeon.
3. Ask to consult the surgeon about the pros / cons of removing the metalwork.


Book Reviewer
I broke my leg, and dislocated the ankle playing rugby (ok this was back in 1995). ! plate and 8 screws later, a whole year before I could run again properly.

However continued with my TA career (for want of a better phrase), and since then been mobilised 3 times, metal all intact and no downgrading (despite some twat of an MO trying to on the last mobilisation until CMO stepped in).

Unless the "bionic" bit of your leg is causing grief leave it alone. Eventually the soreness, and the range of movement will improve. As with any injury don't rush it as in the end you'll end up doing more harm than good.

Hope that helps.
Thanks, for all the replies. Sorry for the delay in responding, I've been away for a few weeks.

Am still graded P2 despite my injury! The injury was in my own time, so no-one has taken official notice of it. If I was just doing normal training it wouldn't be a problem, it's just because I'm thinking of mobilising and don't want to be rejected at Chilwell. The JSP reference is very helpful, will look up chap. 4 when I'm back in the unit after summer leave is over. I was looking at chapter 3 online and getting worried.

As for the screws, the surgeon has said that the plate and the small screws will probably stay in, but that we can consider taking out the big screws in the malleoli if they are causing problems. Not sure whether soreness after running is a big enough problem, but I will discuss that with him when my appointment comes around - I don't want to be in the middle of Afghan wishing I could run further/faster!

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