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The response to the question below was authored by Marc Mitnick DPM

Pain in ankle area where plate and screws are.

by julie
(Columbus, OH)


My twin sister had a browen ankle about 17 years ago. She has plate and screws that were never removed. She's always been a runner but more recently, since joining the Army, she has done vigorous workouts and does extensive PT tarining such as running daily through the canyons of Texas. Now her ankle is really hurting and a protruding vein has appeared over the area where her plate is. Any advice? I'm worried about her having a critical injury that could jeopardize her Army career. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Hi Julie,

Unfortunately, any time there is damage to the musculo-skeletal system the repair done by doctors can never be as good as the original product.
In the case of your sister, it sounds like she must have had her surgery at a relatively young age as she is now in military training. I would imagine she probably had the screws and plates inserted before her bones had actually finished growing as I am guessing she was maybe ten years of age at the time of the accident.
In any event this further complicates the issue as the more stress that is placed on the screws and plates compounded by the fact that the bones that make up the ankle joint might have developed the way they should have, leads me to believe that she will have issues with the ankle and this problem may worsen as she ages.
The stresses placed on her ankle by the vigorous training she is undergoing is exacerbating her "fixed" ankle.
I would imagine in order to continue with her Army physical training, your sister is going to need to have the ankle examined to determine whether or not the hardware should be removed.
It has been 17 years since the surgery so it is safe to assume the ankle is completely healed and the plate and screws at this point are nothing more than an irritant.
Because of young age at the time of surgery, I am little concerned about how her ankle joint lines up now that she is an adult. If the growth of her leg bones were stunted at all by the plate or screws this could lead to a malalignment of the joint and thus be a focal point for pain.
So, not only should the hardware in her ankle be evaluated for removal, but the overall alignment of her ankle needs to be examined.
I do not have the luxury of examining your sister, but I am comfortable stating that I think it will be difficult for her to continue training with her ankle in the condition that it is.

Marc Mitnick DPM

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