How do I relieve leg pain while in a cast?


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Trad climber
Topic Author's Original Post - May 24, 2010 - 01:13pm PT
Here's hoping all you smart tocaoans can give some advice while wearing an ankle cast whick extends to my knee.

A week ago I fell while climbing and broke my ankle.

Since then, the ankle hasn't hurt much, but the bruise traveled above the ankle to my shin, and every time I stand up (have been sitting with foot elevated) it hurts like hell in the bruise area. Is there any hope for getting rid of that? Before the cast was applied,(two days) I iced the whole area and it lessened the pain fairly well, but now it hurts when standing. I've tried icing the cast area, but it doesn't seem to penetrate the cast very well.


A little background...

About thirty feet off the deck, I fell off an overhang in a pendulum fall, fell about 15 feet,slammed into the rock face, heard a pop, "That can't be good....must be the cams on the rack slapping rock....yeah, that's it...." Classic denial.

Downclimbed about 800' with climbing partner, then hiked out a mile, leaning hard on a branch, to the car. I waited two days to see the doc, because I thought it had to hurt worse if it was broken. (more denial) haha

The orthopedist said it was a clean break, no bone grit in the joint, thank God, and casted it.

So, back to the beginning...any ideas? I could sure use the advice.

Thanks in advance!


Trad climber
Placerville, California
May 24, 2010 - 01:18pm PT
man i can empathize..

did the doctor subscribe vicadins?

here's my tail: (note: posted previously)
the day i turned 21, i drugged my whole family.

then i marched them up to sugarloaf so's they could
witness the past time that had pretty much consumed me.

my mommy fretted endlessly about my impending peril, perched on the front edge of every moment that i entered.

"no mom. you're mistaken. it's a really safe pursuit. and friendly venue. come on, you'll see."

i start out on farley. my dad held a rope for his first time, belaying me with occasional tension, otherwise excess slack, but never just right.

placing hexes sideway, i failed to sew up that climb. all ended purty and well though, and my mom was half way convinced, peering over the rim of her port, at her beloved boy.

ah, that went so well, lets wander up and around the corner to the fracture. this is a piece of eye candy for sure, sure to entertain my yearning.

i dance on up, coaching my dad on beelaying and float thru the crux. just past the crux, on a bit of 10a finger crack, i missed a foothold rest and clung on with zeal. fumbling in a brand new #1 tcu, i pumped out. determined though i climbed up and put my paws onto the savior ledge. too weak to finish, i melted off and dropped 15 feet onto a slab.

instead of sliding down the rock i pushed off and completely f*#ked my ankle. to my mother's unfortunate horror.

i aided up to the chains on one good leg and one dumb, cause hell if i was going to bail off my shiny blue cam.

for the next 5 months i lived in true suffering, as i was camped out below highway 80 in my pickup, attending university. every morning i'd pedal my bike to and fro higher learning with one leg in toe.

the chicks were still not impressed.


Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2010 - 01:19pm PT
Thanks, Ricky, but I don't want to put any of that in my body. I'd prefer something more natural.
ron gomez

Trad climber
May 24, 2010 - 01:22pm PT
did you call yer doc to let them know of the increased pain? do that to make sure you aren't developing compartment syndrome or a hematoma isn't developing. You can try isometric calve pumps to see if the muscle pump decreases swelling in the shin area, keep the leg elevated as much as reasonably possible to decrease blood flow to the lower leg. I would first check in with yer doc to rule out any worse case scenario.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2010 - 01:25pm PT
Thanks for the empathy, Norwegian.

Nice story.

Did you cast or ice it?

Don't exactly like hearing the five months part, but whatever...guess I'm resigned.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2010 - 01:30pm PT
Thanks ron, I'll call today.

Will try the calf pump experiment.

And yes, the leg is elevated as consistently as the political threads here keep a' smoulderin'. :^)

Trad climber
Placerville, California
May 24, 2010 - 01:32pm PT
mine was a severe sprain.
so i did not cast it. nor ice it, really. i was young and dumb.
i think the 5 month heal time had to do with the soft tissue damage.
i turned my ankle "out", with the 'palm' of my foot facing down.
the tendons on the inside ankle, which i damaged, are much more substantial than those on the outside ankle, and thus take longer to heal.

best of wishes.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Why'djya leave the ketchup on the table?
May 24, 2010 - 01:33pm PT
When I broke my ankle I made the Dr recast it 3 times in as many days till I got one I could live with.

Do not accept that your cast should cause you excruciating pain. The guy who cast your leg has never had to endure one himself, chances are pretty good. So he or she doesn't really know what the f*#k she is talking about, when it comes to your pain.

But you are your own advocate. If you don't assert your rights, no one will.

If that damn cast hurts you, make em cut it off and do it again.

I basically had to teach the caster how to do his job. By our third time around he constructed it to MY specs, not what they taught him in clinic class.

I needed LOTS of ensolite padding along the shin bone and most importantly at the top of the cast. 3 layers and no creases or any of that sloppy sh#t. Its like a pebble under a princess's mattress pile... you are going to be living with shoddy workmanship.

But you have to think about where it hurts and what you would do differently there, to make it not hurt. I needed the top of my cast flared somewhat, like the horn end of a brass instrument, to give my calf bone some wiggle room. And that part needed a lot of ensolite.

The caster at my Dr office said I was the most difficult casting patient he'd ever met. I told him I was going to be USING that cast.

2 weeks later I was climbing in it.


Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2010 - 01:37pm PT

Funny as hell!

Yep, the military grade's gotta be the best....courtesy of their in-house pharma department.

No substances but aspirin. Too stubborn?

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2010 - 01:40pm PT

Thanks for the well-wishes.

BTW, I forgot to thank you for the good advice a few threads ago.

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
May 24, 2010 - 01:43pm PT
Vicodine and gradually witch to weed+advil.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2010 - 01:45pm PT
Dang Dingus, you're one tough guy! And a damn good writer too.

The pain isn't coming from the cast, it's the area where the ankle bruise migrated up the shin.

PS. She wrapped it pretty well so there's a fair amount of padding between the skin and cast.


Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
May 24, 2010 - 01:46pm PT
I broke my ankle so badly (actually the tibia) I had the cast on for 5 months. The first month was hell. Whenever I'd stand up the blood racing into the tortured ankle would almost buckle me. Only thing that helped was to keep the ankle elevated. Slowly it just got better.

I'm afraid there are no quick fixes unless the cast is screwy or there's something else going on, which is wise to rule out as Ron was saying. The bone heals fast, the soft tissue, not so much.


Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2010 - 01:51pm PT
Lambone, wish I could take that advice.....but no go :-)

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2010 - 02:02pm PT
Thanks Largo.

I also remember hearing the word tibia....the pain you describe sounds about right....only it's above the ankle.

Trad climber
Kennewick wa
May 24, 2010 - 02:14pm PT
When your leg hurts, apply to left hand. It works sort of like a patch.

Credit: Srbphoto

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2010 - 02:18pm PT

Trad climber
May 24, 2010 - 02:20pm PT
Marijuani. Made from a plant in California. Available anywhere in the US.
I recommend the kind known and marketed as TrainWreck. Best natural painkiller known. And dirt cheap compared to Vicodin, except insurance still won't cover it. Yet.

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones RokJox.

You also spelled it wrong, and it's now officially called Cannabis in the movement. If you want to be hip.

As far as the question- elevation is the key for the first few weeks. And ice. Screw the pharmy drugs.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 24, 2010 - 02:31pm PT
I'm with ya on the pharmy crap, Pate. The pain hasn't been bad enough to justify that. So far.

Trad climber
May 24, 2010 - 02:35pm PT
Tough it out! I shattered my left pinky metatarsal a while back and ended up having bone removed and the remaining bone pinned back together. It was more painful than anything I'd ever experienced, and I've had a spiral of my tibia and a compound radius/ulna among others. I had a vic prescrip and an oxy, I didn't use either. Elevation and ice for two weeks, freeze that thing like a pitcher's shoulder.
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