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Thread: Foot edema post-fracture, is this "normal"?

  1. #1
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    Foot edema post-fracture, is this "normal"?

    So, I've always been prone to a bit of edema, but historically, it's only happened when my feet are down, but raised above my footrest: a.k.a. not level or touching the footrest. As long as they are level though (when I wear shoes, for example, or raise the footrest up a bit more), I've noticed very little to no swelling in my feet.

    I fractured my left tibia recently, and for the past 7 weeks, have kept both legs elevated at roughly 90 degrees from my torso. My doc just gave the a-okay to take off the splint, so I've returned both legs to a normal seated position as of three days ago. But, that's when I noticed the swelling start: it was noticeable, but not too severe the first two days, all disappearing by the morning, after a night in bed. Last night was much more noticeably swollen though, and, while slightly better this morning after 9 hours in bed, still swollen (the left more so than the right).

    Not sure if this is:
    • because my body got used to having my legs elevated for so long
    • because I haven't been going out, and therefore haven't been getting much exercise at all, and so my circulation might not be at its best
    • if this is a one time too much salt intake issue (I did notice myself being quite thirsty yesterday)
    • a kidney problem (I've had varying degrees of cloudy urine the past 3 months but have been completely asymptomatic otherwise)
    • or something else

    In other words, I can't decide if this is something I should be concerned about to where I schedule an appointment and get tests/ultrasounds done to rule out kidney problems, clots, etc, or something I should keep an eye on to see if it gets better as I return to a more regular lifestyle, so feedback would be appreciated from anyone that may have gone through similar issues! I can't remember how it went the last time I broke my leg anymore.

    In case it matters, T-11/T-12 complete. Pretty active pre-fracture, pushing 2-3 miles through the day, and have been super sedentary since.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ChesBay's Avatar
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    Do you ( or can you wear compression ) stockings?

    I have done my tib/fib twice. Once at only about 7 years post injury, took a fall, my fault messing around. Don't recall much swelling but they put a plaster cast on, something a good ortho would never do now.

    I did a second tib/fib at 22 years post injury. I wore a soft cast and compression stockings. With that fracture ,my leg was swelling daily and by about 3 hours in the day it was pretty swollen. I pretty much kept a normal schedule. Seemed to take about 2 months before swelling would slow down. ( i do recall throughout that leg would get back close to normal after a night's sleep)

    good luck

  3. #3
    It is not unusual for the fractured extremity to be bigger than the opposite one. If you had X-rays done of your fractured limb you can tell how well the bone has healed. Signs to look for if there is a clot is if the more swollen limb never reduces in swelling when elevated or there is redness on the skin that does not blanch. Blanching mean when it is reddened area and you press on it it turns white briefly. No blanching means it stays red if you press down on the skin

    get an X-ray to see how your bones have healed.

    pbr

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChesBay View Post
    Do you ( or can you wear compression ) stockings?

    ... With that fracture ,my leg was swelling daily and by about 3 hours in the day it was pretty swollen.
    I don't wear them, though I was thinking of getting some compression socks to deal with this - I never thought about the question of can I wear them though. When should one not?

    And my leg was definitely swelling during the initial few weeks, but the swelling died out around 5 weeks I think. I never really paid attention to my foot beyond checking for pressure sores, but I don't recall it swelling either until the splint came off.

    Quote Originally Posted by SCI-Nurse View Post
    It is not unusual for the fractured extremity to be bigger than the opposite one. If you had X-rays done of your fractured limb you can tell how well the bone has healed. Signs to look for if there is a clot is if the more swollen limb never reduces in swelling when elevated
    Oh just to be clear, my tib-fib fracture was near my knee, so the foot itself wasn't injured: unless you mean it's common that the extremity of a fractured limb is more likely to swell? As for further clarification, I saw my doctor this past Wednesday, had xrays done, the doc said it looked like the fracture was still there, but much smaller, and had a good amount of woven bone in place. Enough that he felt it was safe for me to stop wearing the splint I've had the past 7 weeks, with a warning to just not bang my leg around.

    So I'm not noticing any blanching issues, but I have noticed that elevation only slightly reduces the swelling from the top of my foot, while the area around my ankles remain swollen. That said, should I be elevating above my heart instead? Is straight out while sitting not sufficient? The swelling in my right foot seems to have gone away, but the left pretty much comes back within 30 min of me lowering my legs.

  5. #5
    If you are not weight bearing it takes longer for your bones to heal therefore longer for the swelling to dissipate. keep doing what you are doing.

    pbr

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