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Hit shin area, below knee, fluid retention, stabbing pain in ankle. Nerve injury ?

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Practicing since : 2002
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One week ago I fell and hit the area on my XXXXXXX just below my left knee very hard against the edge of a boat. It took some skin off and bled, but it never bruised, which is odd, because I generally bruise very easily. For the next 5 days it was painful and my left calf, ankle and foot swelled up with what looked like fluid retention. As the swelling started to go down, I began having a burning sensation near the area of injury, with some sharp, stabbing pains. Yesterday, one week after the injury, the stabbing pains have become severe. They are not constant. They come and go without warning - whether I am using my leg or it is at rest. Out of nowhere it feels like a hot knife dipped in acid is being thrust repeatedly into my leg near the area of the injury. It lasts for less than a minute and sometimes comes back within minutes or sometimes a few hours later. I fear this is nerve damage, and I don't have medical insurance. My question is this: Is this something that heals on its own and I just have to endure the pain until it does? How long does a nerve injury like this take to heal? Is there risk of further nerve damage if I don't go to a doctor? And what can I do to help it heal - heat? cold? What can I do to lessen the pain? Regular over-the-counter medications do nothing. Thank you.
Posted Thu, 19 Apr 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 1 hour later

Thanks for the query.

What you describe is not entirely uncommon after an injury to the lower extremity. Sometimes what happens after the trauma is a cascade of inflammatory events which leads to swelling, redness, pain and sometimes numbness and tingling. What we want to make sure of is that no infection is developing in the leg. We refer to an infection in this setting as cellulitis.

I recommend you do the following:

1. Keep the leg elevated at all times if possible as this will help mobilize some of the fluid out of the leg over time. I cannot emphasize this enough in your case.
2. I recommend you consider using ibuprofen 800 mg three times daily to help with some of the pain and inflammation.

My other concern is that you may need an antibiotic if a mild infection is developing - this would require a visit to an urgent care center or perhaps to a convenient care center.

As far as the pain goes - I don't think you are suffering nerve damage. The pain is due to the swelling and inflammation which is putting pressure on the nerves in the leg.

Honestly I think you should visit a physician to assess your leg and make some further recommendations which may include an antibiotic and a prescription pain medication.

I know it may be costly - but I feel it is worth the investment right now.

Again I thank you for your query. I hope you have found my answer to be both helpful and informative. If you have additional concerns I would be happy to address them.


Dr. Galamaga.
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