Many of the surgeries we perform as orthopaedic surgeons involve placing implants, whether they are screws, plates, nails, or suture anchors. In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I discuss whether you should have your plate and screws removed routinely after a very common orthopaedic surgery – surgery to fix an ankle fracture.

Vikas writes:

I broke my right ankle a year ago while playing football. Can I play football while there’s a plate still in? Or should I remove it and then play?

After most surgeries, the hardware causes little trouble to the patient. Because people have little fat or muscle over the bones around the ankle, many people can feel the screws there with sports and exercise. If you do have discomfort, removing the screws or plate and screws can relieve that pain. It does take time to recover from the second surgery and return to play.

There are situations where orthopaedic surgeons do remove the hardware. Complications such as infection or nonunion (the fracture doesn’t heal) that we would likely remove the hardware from the ankle.

Also read:
Ask Dr. Geier: Return to sports after a Lisfranc injury
Ask Dr. Geier: Return to sports after ACL surgery

Should you have your plate and screws removed?
X-ray of an ankle fracture fixed with a plate and screws

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