Cat-Related Injuries
February 7, 2005 5:45 PM   Subscribe

Name that injury: Two nights ago I tripped over my cat and fell really hard on the floor. [+]

By last night, pain had manifested in my left shoulder and where my lower right leg meets my knee. It's the latter that is concerning me because I get a very acute pain in what feels like the bone or joint, when I bend it, lift it, or rotate it out, but it is not swollen at all, not bruised. If it was swollen or bruised I would brush it off as a sprain. The pain is not constant. I feel like my left shoulder, left hip, right knee/shin, and right hand must have been what struck the ground to break my fall. I'm not really interested in spending a couple hundred dollars to go to the doctor unless this is something I should worry about. Could this indicate a fracture or is it probably just a sprain? Anyone out there familiar with injuries in this region?
posted by scazza to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
Could be a hairline fracture. I have pretty weak wrists and occasionally get these from doing something stupid like pretending to be Bruce Lee when I see a big punching bag. You just have to wait a month or so for it to heal, and don't overstress it in the meantime. But dammit, Jim, IANAD.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:35 PM on February 7, 2005


I think it's safe to give this a couple days. It's a little past the window of opp. for ice to do much good. A fracture of your tibia (shin bone) or femur is unlikely to occur without you being literally crippled with pain. Did the fall produce a significant torsion/twisting to your knee?

An x-ray will tell if it's broken - again, almost unheard of -but nothing else as far as a torn meniscus or ACL. If it were me I'd wait a week, stay on ibuprofen, and at the end of the day get it up and put ice on it for 30 min., then heat for the rest of the evening.
posted by docpops at 8:40 PM on February 7, 2005

I think I ended up on the floor like I was sleeping, skewed towards my left side (shoulder and hip), turned on my stomach, knees bent. It doesn't even hurt enough to need ibuprofen, but the lack of swelling has been perplexing. If it sounds like this can heal on its own then I'm stoked. Thanks!
posted by scazza at 9:34 PM on February 7, 2005

I had severe pain in my knee once and it turned out to be deferred pain from a torn muscle in my groin. So if the knee hurts but it isnt tender or swollen this might be something to consider.
posted by Rumple at 10:44 PM on February 7, 2005

Watch your range of motion in the injured joints. If it starts to shrink -- you can't move your joints as far as you could before, then it needs to be checked out.

If the pain keeps reducing, and the motion stays constant or improves, you're probably dealing with contusions and minor fractures. If the pain holds constant for more than three-four days, or increases, or you notice swelling after a few days, it is time for a professional look.

One thing, though -- some hairline fractures in the femur need to be splinted/casted to heal -- if the fracture is oriented the wrong way, the stress of walking flexes it, and it'll never heal.

In general, these sorts of injuries need RICE -- Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. It's probably (as noted) too late for Ice, but the other three are all good.
posted by eriko at 5:32 AM on February 8, 2005

Another echo for the "RICE" treatment.

I also hate going to the doctor. The rule of thumb I use is if its getting better, I let it heal and if I get back to 100% than I move on. If it doesn't get better, or if I don't get back to 100% after some period of time I will force myself to go to the doctor.

Important note -- I had a knee injury once that I didn't go to the doctor about (in retrospect I think I damaged a ligament). A few months later I seriously injured my ACL, and several months after that I tore my ACL completely and had surgery to replace it. If I had gone to the doctor for the first injury, I probably would have learned to be a bit careful around that knee, and probably would have received some physical therapy to build the muscles up to lighten the loads on the ligaments. Whether this would have changed anything is debatable. But wanted to put the caveat out there.
posted by forforf at 6:36 AM on February 8, 2005


I'd also think about a brace, or at the very least a good wrapping, for your knee. You want to minimize moving that part.

And definitely, if the pain persists, see a doctor. It sounds like a hairline fracture- I got one in my arm a couple years ago from falling off a railing, and had a similar experience.
posted by mkultra at 6:38 AM on February 8, 2005

I would name this injury Robert McNamara Leroy Fitzpatrickberg.


Seriously. If it is getting better, you're probably ok, but pain is really the only way your body has to tell you something isn't working. My girlfriend had a similar injury, and pace docpops, it was a fracture of one of the knobs at the top of her shinbone. Which is actually probably the best, as muscle or ligament damage would be longer (or never) to heal.

The only real way to know is to consult someone who knows, and probably have an xray and/or MRI. If you are not insured, spend the time it takes to go to a free clinic or sliding scale provider.
posted by mzurer at 8:01 AM on February 8, 2005

I regularly bang my knees up, and I get minimal bruising and no swelling no matter how badly it hurts. Unless you do something that causes fluid build-up, there's just not a lot in the knee to become inflamed. (Or, at least, there's not much but bone in *my* knees, so...)

As everyone else has said, give it a couple days and if it doesn't improve, see a doctor.
posted by me3dia at 1:54 PM on February 8, 2005

Thanks everyone. Yes, if it doesn't improve, I will see my doctor.
posted by scazza at 3:35 PM on February 8, 2005

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