What's up with this post-fall soreness and bruising? Should I worry?
April 4, 2014 3:25 PM   Subscribe

Two and a half weeks ago, I tripped and fell (with maximum drama and embarrassment) at work. I landed on the bottom of my knee (beneath the knee cap) and shin with great force onto a hard surface, concrete covered with berber carpet. It's still developing new and odd bruising (details within) and is still remarkably uncomfortable. The skin and knee bones don't hurt, but the soft tissue is very ouchy. Is this a "deep bruises take time to heal" thing or a "Martha, get your bruised self to the doctor" thing?

The fall hurt very much; afterwards I rested, iced, and elevated. A few days later, it naturally started developing intense red/purple/black bruising, mostly just beneath my knee. Note: I'm extremely pale and tend to bruise in a lurid way.

As that started to fade to yellow/green, I developed a new patch of dark bruises farther down my shin. A few days later, as that patch got a bit better, more purple bruises sprang up on the front of my ankle. This pic is from day 9, when the knee bruises were fading. The shin and ankle got significantly darker. These bruises are all extremely sensitive and sore. Even the pressure of shaving my legs is too much.

The skin under my knee had a weird, numb "touching it through fabric" feeling for more than a week, but that's not as bad now. The whole under-knee area is, however, insanely pressure sensitive. Yesterday I forgot about it and kneeled to get something out of a low cabinet, and it hurt so much, it took my breath away. It's like a combination of deep ache and intense stabbing pain.

What say you, mefites, keep up with the epsom salt soaks and advil, or go to the doctor?
posted by mostlymartha to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
New bruising two and a half weeks after the injury? Doctor.
posted by looli at 3:39 PM on April 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

I took a really bad fall in October (a word to the wise: don't fall down brick steps, and if you must do so, use something other than your face to break your fall) and had similar symptoms, including the weird bruising and intensely-sensitive skin. It lasted for about two weeks and I was honestly stiff and sore for another two weeks. I was seeing medical professionals regularly during this time period (for other fall-related injuries) and they had me on a painkiller, heat pack, and icepack regimen and often checked in on how I was feeling.

Seconding looli, I agree that you should see a doctor. Worst case, there is something more serious causing your symptoms. Best case, they'll just recommend the best pain management practices for your particular injury. Better safe than sorry.

Good luck and feel better!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:41 PM on April 4, 2014

Please go to the doctor. Spreading bruises and that much pain after 2.5 weeks is definitely worth a visit.
Do you have other symptoms (fever, elevated heart rate, rapid breathing, decreased urination)?
posted by travelwithcats at 3:42 PM on April 4, 2014

I don't mean to freak you out, but after reading about what happened to Miles O'Brien I have vowed to take stuff like this more seriously.

I'm sure it's absolutely nothing, but with the new bruising and what sounds like an increase in pain after 2.5 weeks, I would try to get in today just for peace of mind.
posted by lalex at 3:46 PM on April 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

I managed to get an appointment for this afternoon. Even though I'm sure it's nothing and y'all are just weeniebats. ;)
posted by mostlymartha at 4:17 PM on April 4, 2014 [7 favorites]

Glad you're going. I was thinking of sepsis when I asked for further symptoms. Don't worry, just get checked out. Hope you are right and it's nothing.
posted by travelwithcats at 4:26 PM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Excellent that you're going to the doctor.

Twitter isn't showing me your picture, but it sounds to me like you ruptured the lower front edge of the membrane that contains the synovial fluid in the knee joint, and that the escaping synovial fluid is now forcing its way down the front of your lower leg as it continues to be generated in the knee joint, separating tissues that aren't supposed to be separated as it goes and thereby causing bleeding that is leading to more bruising.

If the same thing were happening in the space behind your knee, it would be called a Baker's cyst.
posted by jamjam at 4:40 PM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Great that you're going!

Twitter is showing me your pictures, and I would like you to start an outfit-of-the-day blog while you're in the waiting room, thx.
posted by lalex at 4:44 PM on April 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

Like you I suffered a bad fall, hard on my kneecaps, back on November 28th last year (I know the exact date because it was Thaksgiving). It was really painful and happened in the hospital parking lot after I had just been discharged for something completely unrelated, so no way was I getting checked out. I was just...really tired of doctors.

So, I had weird bruising, too. Couldn't kneel on my right knee; I'd forget and try to get something from under the couch and then OW! I had bruising on my knees still, and yellow and orangey streaks down my legs, all the way into February, when I was due to see my doc for a checkup and asked him why in the world this was going on so long?! I even had this weird new bump on my knee. They X-rayed the bump, found "no bone or synovial fluid involvement" and, well, I am not sure what to do about the bump, beause I still have it and now it's April! Basically, your same scenario: bad fall, lots of bruising, pain with any pressure that lasted for months--and in the end, nothing serious.

Okay, so I told that story so I could tell you this one. Last month, moving an Ikea loveseat with my son, I broke my big toe. No doubt in my mind it was broken, knew the moment it happened. I was not nearly as worried about that as my fall. I didn't even go to see the doc until a few days later (because what's the hurry, what can they do for a toe anyway? You buddy tape it to the next one and keep going). They X-rayed it (Making two x-rays in a month!), found at least one bone was fractured (duh), taped it, asked if I needed pain stuff which I hastily declined, and I went home wearing a boot and feeling foolish for having bothered the doc yet again. The big toe didn't even look so bad, just bruised around the middle, and it was healing fine.

Two weeks later, out of the blue, the pain level skyrocketed, my toe turned red and hot and I couldn't put any weight on the ball of my foot. Within hours my foot was swollen, purple and so painful I was crying in the shower just putting my heel down. And I know I need to go to the doc, and I SO don't want to be that person bothering the doc AGAIN.

They wheeled me out of that place in a wheelchair. I had what's known as cellulitis (though there was no open sore on my foot), and if I had waited any longer, instead of a strong course of antibiotics I would have been looking at sepsis, maybe gangrene. Good-bye, foot.

The point being that these things are not at all predictable, and when they do go wrong, it can be really serious. Time is of the essence. If you note a significant change in pain, combined with this new bruising after a couple weeks, please go to your doctor ASAP.
posted by misha at 5:01 PM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Good news! Doctor said I'm fine and luckily missed hurting my kneecap by thiiiiiis much. Basically I fell down like whoa and am improving very, very slowly. I'm to be better about rest and ice.

If I stop improving, it's orthopedist time, but otherwise, doctor says you guys and my husband are all big weenies and I was right to just walk it off.

(She didn't actually use the phrase "big weenies" or "walk it off".)
posted by mostlymartha at 5:15 PM on April 4, 2014 [14 favorites]

Yeah - I was leaning in that direction, but when one's body starts acting funny it's hard to tell the difference between an annoyance and a problem. And problems around joints can be a flaming pain.

Six weeks ago I popped my elbow on a shelf - not gently by any means, but enough to elicit a single 'Fuck' and then forget about it. Until it got slightly sore a day later and over the next day developed into a remarkably painful and swollen mess. Suffice that after six or eight trips to the doctor, and five weeks of antibiotics, I've only gotten my full range of motion back this week. At this point, I'd guess it will be at least another week before the last of the swelling and irritation subsides.

Best sometimes just to make sure.
posted by wotsac at 6:02 PM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

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