Me and my Jones (fracture), we got a thing going on.....
October 21, 2011 11:44 AM   Subscribe

I've recently become the owner of a stainless steel screw in my fifth metatarsal due to a Jones Fracture. Have you had hardware like this installed and subsequently removed?

My Podiatrist has mentioned this screw is easily removed after everything has fully healed. Just wondering if anyone here has done that before and if you had any complications or issues you wish you had addressed before the removal of said device?

(Answers to other questions: my x-ray looks exactly like this one, knee scooters are really handy devices, and the downside to light rail tracks in Portland is when you have to avoid getting hit by a car by pivoting around and getting your foot caught in a rail track that is flush with the road. Thanks for any advice you can offer.)
posted by TomSophieIvy to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
IANAD, etc. I've not had it done to myself, but I've been witness to both the installation and removal procedures from my time in surgery. The removal is a quick procedure with not much pain involved. Typically they will anesthetize the foot by local or a nerve block, maybe a spinal. The doctor will make a small incision, and remove the screw. The removal is no different than removing a screw out of a piece of wood with a drill. Except it's your foot. And it's sterile.

Post-op of the removal is standard for any incision, keep it clean/dry. Probably light bandaging. Pain will be significantly less than the first surgery. Complications are rare and the hole in the bone heals fairly quickly.

Also: ask for the screw. The staff will usually autoclave it for you and return it to you. I mean, you've paid $1000 for that screw (not counting installation). You might as well keep the souvenir.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:55 AM on October 21, 2011

Different injury: I had a broken hip fixed with three screws. The doctor told me I could have them out after 18 months. I waited about 2 years.

When I went to have them removed, the (same) doctor told me there was a chance they'd strip out when he tried to unscrew them, in which case they'd probably have to stay put. Happily that didn't happen.

The instant I woke up after the surgery to remove the screws—seriously, the instant—I realized that a nagging low-level pain in my hip had disappeared. The instant after that, I cursed myself for having waited a day longer than I had to.

I was on crutches for about 6 weeks after that while bone grew into the voids left by the screws. And I eventually learned that the muscles around the surgical site had bound to scar tissue, and needed to be broken up with some aggressive massage.
posted by adamrice at 12:13 PM on October 21, 2011

Thank you both for your prompt replies. The pre-insurance and deduction cost is already nearing $14k (so far) so feel free to insert your 'most expensive screw' jokes at will. One article brought up the location of the screw - that part of the foot gets the least amount of blood circulation in the body and is very suspect to being 'felt' due to cold/damp weather. Cold/damp weather in Portland?
posted by TomSophieIvy at 1:05 PM on October 21, 2011

I had what appeared to be that same screw splinting my broken fibula against my tibia for something like six weeks some twenty years ago after which it was removed. My surgeon told me that removal was a procedure he could perform in his office under local anesthetic. Once I was incised, he discovered scar tissue and bone plaque buildup around the head of the bolt which necessitated all that stuff being scraped off with tools like a dentist scraping plaque off your teeth before the bolt could come out.


Local anesthesia and orthopedic procedures do not mix IMO from this experience.
(this doctor was a Korean war veteran pilot flight surgeon so I was pretty much expected to suck it up, but damn that hurt like hell)

To further the anecdote, a friend had the same break and same screw at the same time I did. He had a cast, and I had crutches with instructions to walk without bearing weight lest I bend the screw. He was in the cast for three months before he could begin physical therapy while I went snowboarding.
posted by No Shmoobles at 3:07 PM on October 21, 2011

Is the screw completely internal? I had two screws holding my thumb back together after a bad fracture, and the ends of the screws stuck out of the skin about 1/4 inch. The removal process involved clamping a pair of vice grips on the end and simply unscrewing them. There was no pain involved, but the sensation of the screw moving through the bones of my hand was enough to make me pretty green and close to passing out.
posted by Big_B at 3:19 PM on October 21, 2011

Oh yeah - the screw is completely internal. Um, yeah, thanks for the visuals No Shmoobles - OUCH!
posted by TomSophieIvy at 3:21 PM on October 21, 2011

I have a titanium rod in my tibia that was held in place by 2 screws. The whole time the screws were in there, I could feel them and they made me was like they added pressure points that weren't supposed to be there. Stuff like running and jumping was unpleasant.

I got them removed almost a year later. Made a world of difference! My leg felt MUCH more normal. The recovery from getting the screws taken out was maybe 3 days of feeling kinda hobbly. NOTHING like the original surgery.

Hope this helps!
posted by capnsue at 3:23 PM on October 21, 2011

Oh also the orthopedic surgeon woke me up after the screw removal surgery by rattling a jar that contained said screws next to my ear.
posted by capnsue at 3:24 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

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