Postoperative Pain After Surgical Treatment of Ankle Fractures: A Prospective Study

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Postoperative pain after fixation of ankle fractures has a substantial effect on surgical outcome and patient satisfaction. Patients requiring large amounts of narcotics are at higher risk of long-term use of pain medications. Few prospective studies investigate patient pain experience in the management of ankle fractures.


We prospectively evaluated the pain experience in 63 patients undergoing open reduction and internal fixation of ankle. The Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire was administered preoperatively and postoperatively (PP) at 3 days (3dPP) and 6 weeks (6wPP). Anticipated postoperative pain (APP) was recorded.


No significant differences were found between PP, APP, and 3dPP; however, 6wPP was markedly lower. Significant correlations were found between PP and APP and between preoperative and postoperative Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire scores. PP and APP were independent predictors of 3dPP; however, only APP was predictive of 6wPP. Sex, age, and inpatient versus outpatient status were not notable factors. No statistically significant differences were found in pain scores between fracture types.


Both preoperative pain severity and anticipated postoperative pain are predictive of postoperative pain levels. Orthopaedic surgeons should place a greater focus on the postoperative management of patient pain and expectations after surgical procedures.

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