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Thread: nonunion fracture

  1. #1

    nonunion fracture

    Good morning-
    I have a question for you. In November of last year I fell and suffered a fracture of my tibia and fibula. The ortho doctor had me wear a brace for the past 4 months. At my last visit, he determined that the bone was not healing properly and that I now have a nonunion fracture. He said that there's really nothing more that can be done and that I no longer need to wear the brace. (I've been a para for 40+ years and have severe osteoporosis so surgery is not recommended).
    Has anyone else had a similar outcome? If so, how did it effect your daily routine? At this point, I'm still able to transfer independently and take care of my daily needs but I wonder about future problems since those bones are not stable...
    Thanks for any input,

  2. #2
    A non union fracture is not of concern if you are not weight bearing.
    It sounds like your activities of daily living (ADLs) are not being affected.

    Do you have any limitations in range of motion?
    Can you see any visible deformities? is the non union a slight condition or significant?

    My approach would now be for prevention. Make sure your vitamin d level is within normal limits. If you have osteoporosis are you being treated for it? In other words do you meet the guidelines for treatment? All questions/considerations to ask of your provider.


  3. #3
    Senior Member ChesBay's Avatar
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    Nov 2001
    Coastal Virginia
    At twenty-five (25) years post, I took a forward fall out of a poorly fitted chair ( a whole different story...).

    I completely snapped my femur on one leg and had a rod placed in. I also broke the tib/fib on my other ankle, that required a surgery to align.

    That was 15 years ago . I can't recall exactly how many months I would go to my ortho surgeon and we would look at x- rays for any sign of bones healing. After a few months he suggested Electric Bone Growth stimulators. I had them on each leg and wore about 8 hours a day . It sounds like work but wasn't too bad. I would put the battery packs in a pouch under my seat. Seems it took about 2-1/2 months but ultimately got the job done both sets of fractures healed.

    I hope I never have a similar incident. I know my osteoporosis has advanced but it worked very well for me.

    I believe "SCI 55" has post a sucess story with bone growth stimulators also.
    Wishing you the best.

    I used EBI bone growth stimulators here is some info:

    EBI bone growth stims:

  4. #4
    I fell from my wheelchair in November last year as well and fractured both my tibia and fibula. Tried wearing a cast for 6 weeks with no sign of callus. So I decided to have an intramedullary rod put in and at 5 weeks it is still non-union. I have to admit I'm not very hopeful of a union at 3 months. I have read online that it can usually be declared one way or the other at that stage, but that's only what I've heard. Interestingly enough even though there was no sign of callus before I had the intramedullary rod put in the surgeon told me he couldn't get it quite straight because some of the bone had set. I was awake for the procedure with a spinal and epidural with fentanyl to limit possibilities of autonomic dysreflexia. I'm guessing not everything shows on an x-ray. When I go back for my 3 month postoperation appointment I will post back. I am 30+ years post spinal injury C5 C6 complete. The surgeon kept saying during the operation not to me but generally that the bones were so soft when he was drilling screws in. I was a little confused by this as I thought we had osteoporosis like that of an elderly person but he told me in the recovery room that my bones weren't in his words like eggshells but soft because they had lost all their minerals. I can't explain it any better than that as I have no expertise in this area. I wish you all the best.

    This message was composed using voice recognition, there may be mistakes.

  5. #5
    PBR, takenaback, and ChesBay-
    Thanks for replying and sharing your experiences and information. I definitely haven't been as informed as I should have been and when the doctor told me about the nonunion, I was kind of blindsided and didn't even know what questions to ask him. I'll have to get check with him and see if an Electric Bone Growth stimulator would help me at this point.
    Anyway, it's good to know that others have had similar issues.

  6. #6
    I had my 3 month post intramedullary nail x-ray which is over 4 months since the fall I took. Lo and behold there is limited signs of callus both in the tibia and fibula. So it's hard to compare our bone states considering I am 32 years post accident and you are longer but I'm glad I got the nail put in. I wouldn't say the spiral fracture in the tibia looks very good as in aligned nor the fibula but there is some callus albeit very very slow. Go back in another couple of months and see what happens. Obviously you can only go with the advice you receive and we are not comparing apples with apples as your break is undoubtedly different to what I have.
    Last edited by takenaback; 05-05-2017 at 03:48 AM.

  7. #7
    FYI - My father also had multiple poorly healing/fusing fractures after his accident. Spine. Leg. He was put on Forteo (he also had osteoporosis) and they healed within a few months.

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