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DD (age 5) injured leg- most likely bad ankle sprain - how long to recover?

(15 Posts)
JumpingJellyfish Thu 01-Nov-12 12:33:02

DD1 let go while being swung round by DH and landed badly (in a muddy field- one leg slipped at a horrible angle) 11 days ago (DH feels incredibly guilty!). She couldn't weightbare and was in a great deal of pain. A&E visit ensued, x-ray didn't show fracture but they put her leg in a cast to immobilise it just in case. They reviewed her on Tuesday after 8 days in the cast (which was full leg- to upper thigh) and said an orthopaedic surgeon had reviewed her x-rays and don't believe there is a fracture so it is soft tissue damage only. However she is still now in a lot of pain, finding walking very hard (we've been encouraged to get her to walk a little way - e.g. across a room). I understand sprains can take a long time to heal and there's also some weakness & stiffness from being in the cast but anyone have advice on how long this may take to heal?

We have been giving her calpol or nurofen as required, and sometimes tried a warm wheat bag against it when very sore. It's waking her a lot at night and she's still far from mobile. Advice much appreciated!

throckenholt Thu 01-Nov-12 12:50:59

Sounds like ligament damage - takes longer to mend. Can you ask them about physio ? May well benefit from massage and the right kind of manipulation.

An alternative would be to go to a chiropractor privately.

emummy Thu 01-Nov-12 12:55:35

Ligament strains can take several weeks to get better, and you are doing the right things. Physio may very well be helpful so have a word with your GP. Otherwise, just keep her walking gently, regular calpol, especially going to bed at night, and it will gradually get better. Not sure about the chiropractor, no experience of that with ankles.

JumpingJellyfish Thu 01-Nov-12 13:20:37

Thank you both.
I was told it will probably take around two weeks for her to be able to walk normally and resume normal activities- but right now she seems in so much discomfort I can imagine it taking longer than that!
I will make an appointment with the GP for her and ask about physio- knowing the NHS referral time may be too long so may just pay for some privately if need be.

Do you think taking her to the swimming pool could help? Just walking gently in the toddler pool? I had a lot of hip probs as a child and found hydrotherapy and swimming of great help with regraining strength and mobility.

beautifulgirls Thu 01-Nov-12 13:49:11

It might be worth asking for a re x-ray too. Some fractures are not found initially. Have a chat with the GP about it if she is that sore. Maybe you could call and get a telephone consult for advice at least?

JumpingJellyfish Thu 01-Nov-12 14:10:20

I've just made an appointment for DD to see a (private) physio tomorrow- I am hoping they will be able to advise on rehabilitation exercises etc. and if there is anything major hopefully advise whether to go back for further x-rays etc. I too had read about hairline fractures not showing until 10-14 days post injury, which is now worrying me a little! Saying that I think today she is slightly better than yesterday...
Thanks all x

LadyStark Thu 01-Nov-12 14:31:45

You should ice it instead of using a warm wheat bag, I hae ligament damage in my hip from a fall and my doc and chiropractor both said that heat isn't good, ice all the way.

JumpingJellyfish Thu 01-Nov-12 15:15:52

Thanks Ladystark - that is just what I read!! It's just I wasn't sure about icing it in bed in the middle of the night!! But will try icing it before bed tonight.

busyhouseof8 Thu 01-Nov-12 15:51:50

My 8 year old DD did a very similar thing early last Spring. Sorry to say but it took a very long time to heal - months not weeks before she was pain free. It got better just before Brownie Camp the first week of the summer hols.

We saw private physio whilst waiting for NHS appointment to come through but both in the end recommended the same thing - movement and stretching. The more we strapped it up or she protected it by hobbling, the stiffer it got and the more painful to move. Stretches were foot up and down (good toes, bad toes) and also in circles - try getting her to spell out letters with her foot to write her name etc.

We had lots of tears and despaired of it ever getting better, but eventually it did.

JumpingJellyfish Thu 01-Nov-12 15:58:28

busyhouse this is exactly what concerns me. Looking at her now it seems like she is more than just two weeks off from a full recovery (which is what the A&E doctor mentioned following a very brief examination when they removed the cast). DD1 also has cystic fibrosis and exercise is a key part of keeping her well- so I'm desperate to get her back on her feet (bouncing and running are especially important- the two things I can see being the last things you want to do with a sore ankle...). I am hoping the physio can give me more advice tomorrow and I'll try a few gentle exercises with her in a moment.
Another exercise in patience!!

JumpingJellyfish Thu 01-Nov-12 16:00:45

PS. Yes DD1 is pretty traumatised by it all. The pain has made her (understandably) very emotional and tired- and she misses being able to join in with her two siblings racing around. She doesn't really want to try walking because it's painful but we have been making "deals" - bribery etc. to keep her moving a bit...

busyhouseof8 Thu 01-Nov-12 17:57:31

Golly your DD's health complications do make it more worrying.

Injury happened in dance. I ignored for a couple of weeks as I thought DD had just turned her ankle and was being a bit of a drama queen blush.

When no better I took her to the Dr who said DD would get better in a couple of weeks. About three weeks after that I went back as no better. He referred for NHS physio but said it might take a while so I went private whilst waiting.

Private physio said she had pulled all the ligaments round her ankle. After two weekly sessions of that with no improvement the physio sent us to A&E just in case there was a fracture. A&E said no fracture so should take "a couple of weeks". Back to private physio for another couple of weekly sessions and then NHS appointment came through. Finally got better after about 4 weeks with them!

So all in all it took ages. DD got very down. I only realised how bad it was when I was giving her the "children are starving in Africa and that man over there has no arms or legs, so stop moaning" speech in a cafe when she burst into tears and howled and said she knew she should care about them all but she just wanted her ankle to stop hurting!

The exercises are what cured it. DD was very reluctant but the NHS physio was very firm with her that doing them and walking with full weight on it properly was the only way to make it better.

Private physio hideously expensive after a while. Can you use the cystic fibrosis to get the NHS hurried up?

throckenholt Thu 01-Nov-12 18:44:49

I strained my achilles tendon in the summer - it has only stopped hurting in the last few weeks, and still gets stiff.

The key I think is stretching it as much as possible - so a couple of times a day stretch - the stretching helps it mend and strengthens it. Massage also helps - not just the ankle but right up the calf to the knee because the tendons for the ankle join on to the muscles in the calf.

I have to say the gp was worse than useless - said rest it, and it will get better in about 2 weeks. It didn't - needless to say.

JumpingJellyfish Thu 01-Nov-12 21:11:16

busyhouse I really feel for your DD! It is very hard on them- I have a habit of using the argument about people much worse off, but I know that doesn't diminish the pain and frustration they feel or make it less "real" to them - I think it's hard to keep perspective at the age of five when you're sore!! Glad to hear she finally made a full recovery though, even if it did take quite a strict regime of exercises. I think I'll make an appointment for the GP (which will probably take at least a week) to see about fast-tracking a NHS physio- I hadn't thought about using the CF card but you never know it may help- good idea thank you. Private physio is painfully expensive.

throcken thank you for sharing your experience. I will ask the physio to show me how best to massage it- certainly the pain seems to radiate from around the ankle right up her shin at the moment and if anything can relieve some of that and help it heal correctly I'm all for it.

JumpingJellyfish Sun 04-Nov-12 22:17:41

Just a wee update if anyone is reading- the physio we took DD1 to on Friday morning did a very thorough examination of DD's leg and suggested that the pain level, pain location and inflammation were not consistent with a sprain after all but to her mind indicated a break. She did find some inflammation of her Achilles tendon but that wasn't surprising given the fall etc. So she advised us to go straight back to A&E and ask for a repeat x-ray. Three hours later we get the x-ray and sure enough there is a "line" on her tibia consistent with a hairline fracture. Plaster cast back on and review at the fracture clinic in two weeks. Thankfully the doctor at A&E didn't seem to think me a paranoid mother (I did mention the physio had also assessed DD) as poor DD was almost shaking with pain following an attempt to walk half way across the room. Apparently if it was "only" a sprain the pain level shouldn't have been so bad 12 days following the fall.

Thank you all for your advice! We will definitely be getting physio input to her rehabilitation once she's cast free....

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