Derby Hurts

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Can you still skate with a metal rod in your leg?

Last year after 4 years of playing derby I broke my tib/fib during a scrimmage. I was rushed to the ER and underwent emergency surgery and had a rod inserted in my leg to quickin the recovery time. 

After 4 months of healing with crutches, etc I decided to return to skating. But literally 10 seconds out on the track I broke my same leg (in a different spot) doing....a crossover. I had brand new wheels out and they slid out underneath me.

I convinced myself that the reason my leg broke was because the hardness of the rod didn't allow my leg any flex.  In other words, I thought that my bone broke all around the rod because it forced my leg to stay straight instead of having some flex or natural bend when I fell.

Others think that it broke because the leg wasn't fully healed but I just don't know.  I did not break my tib in the same spot.  It was lower down this time.

After breaking my leg from such a simple thing I decided that I would never skate again. It was just too risky. 8 months after break 2 and that decision is seeming less reasonable.

So i guess I am wondering if anyone else is out there skating with a rod in their leg, and if so, how much time did you allow yourself for healing, or is there any special advice you can give? Also curious to see if anyone else has broken their leg again while having a metal rod, or think that this was the cause of the second break? 

Any info helps! Thanks

Mercyful Kate

Tags: broken, fracture, leg, rod, tib/fib

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My break is very similar to yours, I haven't started to skate probably yet as I have a weird bone growth in my heel, but I have skated, even done cross overs (which is what I did when I broke my leg in the first place) I'm actually not worried about my leg (well I wasn't until I read this) I'm more worried about my ankle which will be weaker due to my leg being much stronger and my knee as I can't feel half of it so I might not be able to tell if I get hurt or not! I think it been about 8 months since I broke my leg to when I skated again.
Kate!  I also broke my tib/fib on June 30th and was hoping to skate again but his scares me!  I can't believe you broke it again.  What did your Dr. say?  Were you released for sports when you skated?  I'm at 7 weeks and my tibia isn't even started healing yet around the break.  So interested to see what you were told...

I was released for sports when I skated again.  Lots of people think that it was way too soon though.  My advice is to be patient and wait a good long while before skating again.  You want to be prepared mentally as well as physically.  


I had conflicting reports from different doctors.  I went with the one that was most convenient to what i wanted to do, which was skate as soon as possible.  


I asked this same question on the facebook discussion board, found the response from Sarah helful:


Good luck with your recovery!  Remember, give it time to heal! 

I have a rod in my tibia, plus a plate on my fibula. I wasn't cleared for skating until 6 months, then 8 months I was cleared for contact. I'm no doctor, but I've heard it takes 3 months for bone to heal - and really a year until you are fully healed, muscles and tendons back to "normalcy". So in my opinion you probably just had another "accident" while your bones & muscles were still in a fragile state.

I took it really easy coming back, and I had knee issues due to the surgery (they opened my kneed to insert the rod in my tibia). So my transitions felt really awkward, muscles all stiff. Did you do PT after? Don't let your dr tell you that you don't need it. I had an excellent surgeon that said I didn't need more PT, since I played derby (what kind of reasoning is this??) ...but he had really no idea of the issues I was having and frankly, he's a surgeon, not a physical therapist. He's trained to put bones back together, not the movement of the body. I knew something wasn't right. So I opted for more PT with a facility that specializes in getting you back in shape for sports - not just walking around. Even after over a year (my injury happened Feb 22 2010), I am skating and bouting but still have some issues with my healed leg aching.

Thanks for the info on the therapy.  I have an excellent surgery but you are so right, he fixes bones and is not a physical therapist.  I need the help getting my leg back in shape - had a rod and screws put in on 6/30/11.  I am walking without assistance and training at home but I need a structured plan for my recovery and exercises custom for my problem at the time.  Tired of trying to figure it out on the internet.
One of our skaters has a metal plate in her leg, not exactly sure what her specific injury was, but she manages quite well.

@PWN Jett - Glad to hear she is doing well.  Unfortunately for me, injuries with rods are usually much more significant than plates and take longer to heal.  :(


Yikes, I have a plate and 6 screws from ankle surgery but not a whole rod.  Did you do rehab?  I broke my left ankle Feb. 3rd, 2011, surgery Feb. 8th and it wasn't until May that I was back on skates (just doing the basics) after a month and half of rehab. 

It sounds like you may have jumped the gun a bit - I'm not judging or anything as I know that you just wanted to skate - but I think it would be best to get a few opinions with the doctors/therapists and take it SLOW next time.  

Good luck!!


Yeah, i think i wasn't really aware of the severity of my injury and perhaps did jump the gun a little bit.  I did some PT, but probably not enough.  I was still walking with a limp, but I figured that didn't matter on skates.  Probably didn't help that I was wearing brand new wheels on a wood floor either.  That is what caused me to slip.  

I'm just affraid that if I started skating again, I could just as easily slip in that same way, and that because the rod is there, my bone won't have the natural flex it used to and I will be more susceptible to breaking bones than someone without a rod in their leg.  I don't know if that's the case.  I haven't found any evidence to support this theory.

Well first thing is I guess talk to the docs about your theory with the rod.  I don't have one so I'm not familiar but I think it would help your fears if you knew the facts from doctors who can assess your specific situation/needs first hand and let you know if what you are fearing is real or just in your head.  I'm not minimizing it as it IS scary - I think it would just help to know the reality of the rod and it's affect on your bones/skating ability.  I did a LOT of PT (6 weeks at 2-3 times a week) and I know my muscles were way better for it as they could see what I was doing and challenge me as needed. 

After you figure out the physical reality and see what's going on, then assess if you want to try again.  It will ALWAYS be scary (it gets less, but it is there and pops up at weird times) but it shouldn't be your foremost thought when you look at skates or I think it will just screw with you and you don't deserve that.

My surgeon told me that the rod in my leg will not make it stronger but it will not make it more prone to break either... That as long as everything heals up normally the bone with the rod in it should be very similar in strength to what it was before my fall.

talk to your doctor about your fears and when you go back, perhaps use your outdoor wheels at first if the floor is really slick?
I had several doctors tell me not to play sport or ski till I had the metal out of my leg because metal does not flex like bone and I would be at greater risk of breaking above or below the metal.  But I guess we all have slightly different injuries and if your medical advice was that you could skate then the second injury was probably an accident.


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