About this Pilon Fracture Recovery Site

Hi ,

My name is Zach and I have been going through recovery from pilon fracture surgery since March 20th 2015. I am here to share my story.

If you have suffered a pilon fracture (also called a tibial plafond fracture) or know someone who has, this can be a site for information exchange on this relatively obscure injury.

A NOTE from Sept 7 2017:

Does anyone want to try moving comments in this blog to a private facebook group? I called it Pilon Fractures Suck

Feel free to post and comment. We can commiserate, share, learn or teach others so that we do not feel as isolated and alone (this injury is so rare that it is hard to find anyone to talk to about it.)  Click Here to learn more about the injury. Click here to see recent posts I have made. 

How it happened to me:

On March 6th 2015 I embarked on what was to be a three day two night backpacking-by-bike (bikepacking) trip in the deep backcountry of the Ishi Wilderness area  in Tehama county. Our first day was to be 20 miles to Black Rock campground, where we would camp for the night.

We arrived at Black Rock deep down in Mill Creek Canyon at about 4:30 PM on a Friday evening, and the sun was shining on the water under the Mill creek bridge and made a swim seem so inviting…so I decided to jump in. Long story short, I jumped just a little too far to the left, and landed on a shallow spot and exploded my ankle. It was the most disappointing experience of my life and I began to wish I could turn back time just 1 minute and re-think my move. Before the pain set in I ate a hand full of Advil and over the next 30 minutes I was helped out of the water and to a picnic bench where I laid for 7 hours until we the good folks from Tehama County Search and Rescue (thanks guys!) finally reached us. I made it to the ER at about 3:45 AM and began to learn just what a mess I made of my ankle joint. Thats where I learned the dreaded term “pilon fracture” and I will never forget it. As far as I can tell, 1% of the public has ever even heard the word. Its such a rare injury.




Where I jumped from  (regret sets in every time I see this picture)

April 2015, 1 month after pilon fracture surgery, my friends took me to Monterey CA for the Sea Otter Classic. I was in the wheelchair all day, and pretty sore, but man what a relief to get out of the house like that.

April 2015, 1 month after pilon fracture surgery, my friends took me to Monterey CA for the Sea Otter Classic. I was in the wheelchair all day, and pretty sore, but man what a relief to get out of the house like that.

359 thoughts on “About this Pilon Fracture Recovery Site

  1. Hi, August 12th 2019 a day that has forever it seems changed our lives. My husband fell on a ladder on the roof at work. He is a repair guy and he was by himself that day. The only thing he can think is when the ladder slid his leg went under it and his weight came down on it. He only fell about 3 feet. When I met him up at urgent care and we got the x-rays the doctor did not even know what to call it he just said it is the worst break he had ever seen. They proceeded to put him in a boot and send him home with 5mg percocet. I feel like it is worth noting, this was a Monday and we had joked the Friday before about him calling out of work that Monday as we had a special weekend in the game we play. He should have just stayed home! By Tuesday morning his job that is a 30 minute drive needed him to come in apparently. Him signing a piece of paper could not wait I guess. We also went back to urgent care as the 5mg Percocet was doing nothing for his pain. He was given 10 mg which also did pretty much nothing. By the time we got back home after about 5 hours of being gone his leg was swollen to the point of blistering and was leaking fluid. By this time he could not elevate his leg without shooting pain and I can count on 1 hand how many times I have seen him cry and this was one of them. By that evening we ended up going to the E.R. The triage nurses even looked at him and wondered why the urgent care doctor put him in a boot! He should have been splinted from the beginning.

    After hours as the E.R. was so busy the doctor came in and she immediately gave him some morphine and toradol it was the only thing that allowed him to elevate his foot. He ended up being admitted and they were able to get the swelling down. Thursday he had an appointment with the trauma orthopedics surgeon and this is where we learned the term pelon fracture. The office sent him down immediately for surgery to have the outer fixation device placed so they could get the swelling down. This was the first time this office has ever done this. After his surgery he said it felt a lot better even if it looked bad! A little more than a week later the swelling was down enough to do the surgery and he had his surgery with internal fixation devices done.

    He is now nearing a year out and the reason I am here is we are trying to find people who have had this type of fracture and hear about their recovery. He is still in a significant amount of pain but is working. The only way of him being able to function good is by taking Mobic which is a NSAID that apparently he should have been on for no longer than a week or 2. the doctor had him on it for 4 months. He is now trying to figure out other ways to manage the pain but nothing had worked as well as the Mobic. We are in a place where we are wondering if the gear needs to come out but if what he is feeling is average or normal then we know he just needs to give it more time. If the gear were to be taken out that has a whole new host of complications and a potential break if the bone is weakened. Is pain just his new normal?



    • Hi Julianna
      Unfortunately yes it’s normal have a painfull walk…the best is deal with the pain without pain killers they destroy your health, and sometimes you need to take them…
      The end line is ankle fusion…but you need do have bone quality it takes about 5 years, and it’s not totally necessary to have all hardware remove it depends of the case…my surgeon says take the most time you can if you can live 10 years without fusion live it.

      I take lots of bike to have muscle work and I do electric stimulation in the weak muscles…for now I already pass 2 years and it’s painfull sometimes but ok I can walk.

      Best regards keep in contact
      We can help each others.
      Luis Rodrigues


  2. Hi Julianna,

    Don’t shoot the messenger but it is truly the worst ankle injury anyone can have. I know the suffering and the pain never ever goes away. Narcotics help but who wants to be doped up all the time. Life is never the same.

    I injured myself in 2014 in a similar way (21screws and 2 plates).
    After 2years of hell and misery with the traumatic arthritis that set in, I opted for an ankle replacement instead of a fusion which I am very pleased with 3 years out. Playing golf 3 times a week and able to walk 2-3 miles with a little discomfort and no meds.

    Some surgeons will not do a replacement if you are to young. I was 66 and my working years are over. Once you do a fusion it’s done and no other options are available, choose your surgeon carefully.
    Good luck on the journey.

    Tom Borella


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