Ka 6:08am Oct 29 2018
Just wanted to update and share my experience with IM nail removal, now about 3 years after first breaking my leg.
After my bone finally healed and the infection was gone, I've continued to experience chronic pain. At first it was more nerve pain and itching or pain around the surgical scars. Lyrica (and perhaps time) has helped a lot with that, but by 2017 I was having a lot of problems with knee pain when walking - a sort of stabbing pain at the front of the knee.
It seemed like the IM nail was hitting the top of the knee, so after many examinations and discussions, I had it removed three weeks ago.
The operation was very quick and with no complications, but I didn't feel the best immediately after. In the first 24 hours after the surgery, I could barely stand due to the sheer amount of pain, which was quite scary, but I was almost full weight bearing on crutches within 48 hours. I also had a massive amount of bleeding post surgery, so I stayed in hospital for two nights before returning home.
The pain and stiffness decreased rapidly within a few days of surgery, and within a week I was full weight bearing without crutches. I'm now able to walk about 1km, just slowly and stiffly. I know this is good, but I'm impatient to return to more strenuous exercise!
There is, however, a complication: one of the wounds is infected. It's staph, and to my great relief, without resistance to any antibiotics (having MRSA in 2015 was pretty awful). The infection is slowly improving with oral and topical antibiotics, and I'll have a check up with a surgeon tomorrow as well.
I must admit I was a bit surprised by the amount of pain and stiffness, and of course not happy about the infection. Having read other people's experiences with hardware removal, it seemed like this should have been a little easier. My surgeon was also a bit surprised by the amount of pain/bleeding and the infection. I guess there are always risks though, and every body and situation is a little different!
I was also wondering: If you've had hardware removed because of pain, how long was it before you noticed much difference? The stiffness and probably the infection mean it's a little too early for me to tell.
Jan 2015: Broken distal tib/fib, IM nail + screws
Oct 2015: IM exchange nailing for tibia non-union
Nov 2015: MRSA infection; surgery + 3.5 months antibiotic therapy for infection
April 2016: Bones healed
Oct-Nov 2018: IM nail removal, wound infection