Frequently when a patient fractures a bone in his or her body, orthopedic surgeons fix the bone with hardware, such as plates and screws or rods. Many patients worry about that hardware and inquire about having it removed. In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I explain the process of returning to sports and exercise after you break a bone and when removing the hardware could be necessary.

Sam asks:
Dr. Geier, I fractured my radius bone. I went through a surgery and got a steel plate and rod. Will I be able to do my normal activities as I was doing before after hardware removal? Or is it dangerous to lift weighted objects?

The radius is one of the two long bones in the forearm, along with the ulna. When you break the radius, either in the middle of your forearm or at the wrist, you often need surgery to fix it. In surgery, we use a plate and screws to hold the bone in the proper position until it heals.

Also read:
How do plates and screws help a broken bone heal?

Return to sports and exercise after you break a bone

Assuming the fracture heals normally after surgery, we allow you to do whatever physical activity you want to do. We obtain x-rays at regular intervals to ensure the bone heals and progress your allowed activities based on that healing.

If you break a bone, an x-ray is needed to make the diagnosis.

The need for removing the plate and screws

Most patients do not need to have the hardware taken out. Unless the bone doesn’t heal or it gets infected, they can leave the plate and screws alone and go back to what they want to do. If for some reason a person wants it out, such as feeling pain from the screws with motion of that body part, then it can be done in a second surgery. Often we will hold you out of activity for a few weeks while bone fills in the holes where the screws were.

Also read:
When can you play sports after breaking a bone?

In this video, I discuss return to activities after you break a bone and how hardware removal could affect the timeline.

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