Telling Pain to Take a Hike: Rehabilitation After a Broken Fibula

On average, 6 million people will break a bone each year in the US, and the majority of these bones will heal without complications.

For Patrick, his fibula fracture (broken leg) occurred as a result of being struck by a car, and the injury was particularly frustrating because it interrupted the active lifestyle he’s passionate about leading. Patrick came to Ability Rehabilitation to undergo rehabilitation after a broken fibula surgery to regain strength, mobility and confidence in his leg so he could pick up right where he left off before the injury.

“Prior to the accident I was used to hiking, running, and my wife and I like to go to the national parks…we just recently did our honeymoon in Machu Picchu,” he explains. “I came to Ability Rehabilitation because I felt like I had to get back to that sort of lifestyle.” The fibula, or calf bone, is found on the lateral side of the tibia. It is the smaller of the two bones and plays an important role in stabilizing the ankle and supporting the muscles of the lower leg.

Rehabilitation after a broken fibula focuses on restoring stability, flexibility and strength to the leg and ankle.

What to Expect from Rehabilitation After a Broken Fibula

Physical therapy is an important part of any patient’s rehabilitation plan after breaking a bone, but for active people like Patrick who want to return to full form, it is even more crucial. Making sure the bone heals correctly is critical to avoiding re-injury or healing deformities.

Specific physical therapy activities to expect following a fibula fracture or any other broken ankle bone typically include:

Walking instruction. Physical therapists can help patients begin putting weight on the injured leg and gradually progress to full weight.

Gait training. Physical therapists can give specific instructions and exercises to help restore a normal walking pattern.

Swelling reduction. Massaging, compression wraps and ice can all help to reduce swelling and promote healing.

Exercise. Exercises to regain the ability to bend the ankle are critical to restoring full walking ability. As strength and flexibility are gained, the physical therapy can provide activity training specific to the patient’s job, leisure activity or sport of choice.

Patrick’s main goal was to get back to running as soon as he could. After just four weeks of individualized care and targeted physical therapy, he was able to lace up his shoes once more.

patrick3“Thanks to my therapy and exercises here at Ability, I have begun running again,” he said. “I even did my corporate 5k recently and I was able to complete the entire race.”

He continues, “My injury is pretty much pain free. I don’t even think about it half the time. It’s almost 100% better.”

Patrick says his physical therapy rehabilitation regimen did not include just exercises. He also received tissue therapy and massage therapy to help overcome the pain he was experiencing. Beyond pain reduction, therapists may use their hands to manipulate and mobilize muscle tissues and joints in order to:

  • Increase mobility and flexibility
  • Reduce or eliminate soft tissue inflammation
  • Induce relaxation
  • Facilitate movement
  • Improve function
  • Improve tissue repair, extensibility, and stability

Patrick credits the positive attitude and friendliness of the physical therapists at Ability for making his recovery experience a pleasant one.

“When I first got here I was impressed by their overall reception of new patients,” he says. “They sit you down and you go over all the goals you want to achieve through physical therapy. They do a thorough examination of the injury and any limitations you may have at that moment.”

He wholeheartedly recommends Ability Rehabilitation for any patient with any physical therapy, rehabilitation or training needs.

“The physical therapists at Ability really work with you,” Patrick says. “If you’re looking for a physical therapist who’s interested in making sure you’re getting the most out of your physical therapy and that you’re getting back to where you want to be as a person physically and mentally, then select a physical therapy facility like Ability because they’re going to to put your goals and your progress first.”