How can something hurt so much while looking like nothing at all?
December 28, 2010 10:34 PM   Subscribe

What the hell did I do to my legs today? More specifically, what is the explanation for the aching, tender, swollen region on the outsides of my thighs?

Today I went out cross-country skiing. I haven't done this since I was in high school, and I'm a grad student now, so my technique was a bit rusty and I took several decent falls.

When I got back to my parents' house, I had a lot of bruises on my knees, but I also have this weird thing going on with the outsides of both thighs. It's on the outside of my thighs, right where the seams of my pants are. There's a region about the area of a silver dollar that feels tender/achy like a bruise, but no bruising is visible. However, if I run my fingers gently along the affected area, it feels swollen under the skin, like I somehow bruised an underlying tissue.

I popped a couple ibuprofen and it doesn't hurt quite as much anymore, but I'm trying to make sure I didn't do something terrible to myself that will screw up my marathon training plan. I'm not at my house right now (visiting family over the holidays), but if it hasn't cleared up by the time I get home, I will see a doctor. I just want a stopgap opinion about WTF did I do to myself, because I'm sincerely curious -- I've never had this issue before, and I hurt myself all the danged time.
posted by kataclysm to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
It sounds like a subdural hematoma. I got a similar thing after playing rugby for a week- in addition to my numerous other bruises, I had pretty much exactly what you're describing near my knee. It lasted much longer than a regular bruise, but it eventually cleared up. I of course am not a doctor and you should probably call yours to see what they say, but I don't think it's anything to seriously worry about if it is a hematoma.
posted by MadamM at 10:55 PM on December 28, 2010

Voting on a hematoma- I took a nasty slip a few months ago and had a hard lump the size of a silver dollar just above my left elbow. It got bigger for about 3 weeks, stayed the same for 3 weeks and then slowly dissapear. If you've got health insurance, have it looked at. Otherwise, I think you'll be okay.

A few years ago my wife was on her feet for several days in a row. (13-16 hours a day) She developed a weird swelling in her calves that looked like her leg was broken. We didn't have insurance at the time, so it never got looked at, but it could be similar.
posted by GilloD at 11:26 PM on December 28, 2010

If it's BOTH thighs, I bet it's just muscle pain from muscles you don't usually use. Otherwise it seems unlikely you'd get symmetrical injuries.
posted by lollusc at 12:04 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I don't usually make medical statements with certainty on the internet, but I can assure you you do not have a subdural hematoma on your thighs. The dura mater surrounds the brain and spinal cord and is nowhere near your thighs. Other varieties of hematoma could be there though, as could a superficial vein thrombosis, among other things. If it doesn't improve over the next few days or if it becomes swollen, red, and/or tender definitely have it looked at. The fact that it is symmetrical is unusual though and makes me tend to agree with those who say it is due to muscle strain; think of a Charley horse or similar injury.
posted by TedW at 4:58 AM on December 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

It sounds kind of like your IT band is sore. Pigeon stretch can help loosen that up.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:05 AM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

My guess would be IT bands as well. Skiing has your legs pushing yourself laterally in a way that normal walking doesn't- so you end up working out a lot of muscles that don't see that kind of exercise. Gentle massage and stretching should help. (and next time you go, afterwards soak in very cold water for 10 minutes then soak hot, and you'll reduce your soreness significantly).
posted by yeloson at 10:10 AM on December 29, 2010

Response by poster: Actually, enormous bruises have now showed up. So it's something on the bruise-hematoma spectrum. How I managed to get huge symmetrical bruises on both outer thighs is a question that will be left for another day.
posted by kataclysm at 1:37 PM on December 29, 2010

Oops I meant subdermal hematoma!
posted by MadamM at 12:27 AM on December 30, 2010

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