Leg: Fracture

I broke my leg bouldering and had a titanium rod installed. I have heard mixed reports about leaving the rod in, one problem being irritation by the screws. Can the rod increase the chance of the leg breaking in the same place under similar circumstances, since the bone cannot “weld” itself together on the inside?

By Rock and Ice | February 2nd, 2010

I broke my leg bouldering and had a titanium rod installed. I have heard mixed reports about leaving the rod in, one problem being irritation by the screws. Can the rod increase the chance of the leg breaking in the same place under similar circumstances, since the bone cannot “weld” itself together on the inside? Also, can I go to Hueco in 12 weeks?

Peter Allison, Christchurch, New Zealand

I would say thanks for the video (and I have posted it on my web page, www.drjuliansaunders.com) but it reminds me too much of when I had my own highball epiphany—hey, bones really break!

Prosthetic titanium fixtures have been a gargantuan step forward in fracture management. Alignment is virtually guaranteed, and weight bearing and healing resume much more quickly. The fracture should be healed in a year or so. Though removing the rod is routine, this decision will rest with your orthopedic surgeon. And then you could get the titanium cold-forged into a funky necklace or genital piercing.

Although strength will be pretty good by the time Hueco comes around, you would be a brave soul coming off anything but the lowest of lowballs. My advice would be to go on the trip, but if your scrotum can’t drag on the gravel you’re too high. Literally, you cannot land on that leg until the rod is removed, and then some. You have been booby trapped with an in situ spear. In the event of a bad fall and landing you can shear the locking screws and drive the rod either through your ankle or up into your knee. Badness, cabron!

The biggest problem, short term, will not be the fracture site but rather the temporary lack of ankle mobility due to swelling and recent immobility. Simple things like heat and stretching will do wonders. For more detail check out the ankle stretching video on my web page.

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