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Author Topic: Circulation - leg going red?  (Read 3893 times)

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Offline Skiier Jo Jo

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Circulation - leg going red?
« on: February 09, 2011, 09:07:17 AM »
I recently broke my leg very badly (7 weeks ago) and have been mainly resting, with some physio.  In the last few days I have been told to move around a lot move and to keep the leg bending.  However, since then, my leg is getting swollen from time to time and going really red and blotchy.  Is this normal and why does it happen?  You would think that standing up and trying to walk about would improve circulation and not cause this....maybe?  Should I be concerned?

Thanks
Skier JoJo
Skiier Jo Jo

Aged 33
Fractured tibial tubercle (plus other bits sloughed off!) and displaced meniscus on 24th Dec 2010
Emergency surgery - Zimmer plate and 10 screws (8 permanent). Straight leg brace
Physio started on day 6. 
Feb 2011 - almost fully straighten leg, with up to 85 degree bend

Offline knee always hurts

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Re: Circulation - leg going red?
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2011, 12:09:52 AM »
Last summer, while I was icing my knee, my foot suddenly turned a deep purple hue, and ever since, when I stand, my feet redden a bit. After a few weeks it spread from one foot to the other. Especially when I'm showering, if you were looking only at my feet, you would think that I was some species of demon. Unfortunately, this has sometimes been accompanied by rather uncomfortable sensations, like burning, tingling, and numbness.

At first I was at a loss as to what could be wrong, but after extensive research, I think I have some idea. For various reasons, the valves of the veins in the legs are particularly vulnerable to problems and failure. Especially since you say this problem is happening when you stand, suggests to me that it might be your veins rather than a circulation problem with your arteries. I suggested what I thought the problem was to my doctor, and he agreed that it was probably my veins and said that he thought it would improve if I was able to increase my physical activity. My own research suggests that once these problems start, though, that they are likely to be a lifelong condition that can merely be managed, but not cured. Since I'm only 26, this isn't news that I wanted to hear, but it may well be the case.

I would talk to your doctor, though, as your problem might be something completely different, like some sort of hyperemia caused by your injury. In that case, it will probably just subside after a few weeks or months. If your doctor does suspect that it is venous incompetence, a vascular specialist can run ultrasound tests to identify which veins are incompetent, and there are actually procedures (most of them minimally invasive today) that can close down the offending vein (assuming it is a superficial rather than a deep vein. In that case, there is usually nothing that can be done). That is about the closest thing to a cure. That might sound a bit radical, but since the vein is refluxing blood anyway, it is worse than useless, and closing it down will simply cause the blood to reroute through a different vein. Other than that, they usually have you wear compression socks.

Now, other than said venous incompetence or hyperemia, a more serious cause could be a blood clot, which can be life threatening. Especially since you are having swelling, you might want to get it checked out. If there is any pain involved at all, and particularly if it is around the calf area, then alarm bells should be ringing.

I would just suggest that if any of this concerns you that you contact your physician and see what they think about it. They should be able to identify what the problem is. You're better safe than sorry, I always say.

Offline emergRN

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Re: Circulation - leg going red?
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2011, 12:31:44 AM »
I would have it checked sooner rather than later.  You will want to rule out a deep vein thrombosis first.  You can deal with other causes later.  7 weeks would be a little late in the game to develop a dvt, but a blood test called a d dimer is fairly accurate at ruling a blood clot out.  You can also have an ultrasound done on that leg, but the blood test is a good place to start.  You may also want to measure your calves to see if one is bigger than the other.  It is better to be safe than sorry.  I actually had an ultrasound on my leg today for the same reason.  Thankfully it was negative. 

W
Rt.knee scope-1990-91Dx with Partial ACL tear
Rt. ACLr with hamstring graft-2010
Rt. knee scope- partial lateral menisectomy and plica excision 2010
ACL revision quad tendon graft- 2011 
Rt. Knee partial lateral menisectomy, debridement 2012
Rt. knee partial lateral menisectiomy, debridement 2014

Offline coral 251

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Re: Circulation - leg going red?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2011, 10:58:18 AM »
Hi,  I fractured my patella last year, it was displaced, and needed surgery,i was in a cast ankle to thigh for 7 weeks,not able to exercise whatsoever,after the cast was removed i was a further 2 weeks non weight bearing, with heel slides being my only exercise, until i started PT the week after.
At 4 months post op,my leg swelled up,it was my whole leg, even my foot,and it was also bright red,after about 4 days it seemed to be getting worse, so i went to the hospital to get it checked out.
They did tests and ruled out DVT,so i was quite relieved,as this was my main concern.
They couldn't find anything wrong, and told me it was due to the surgery and the lack of mobility,and would probably swell up on and off for a few months.
It did last for about a month,but then it gradually subsided,and went back to normal and i have'nt had any trouble since.
So i would advise you to get it checked out, just to be on the safe side,it may be nothing, like mine,but it's better to get to the bottom of it,it will also give you peace of mind.

Good luck with your recovery.
            Coral
23/03/10 displaced patella fracture 3 pieces right leg
26/3/10 had op,2 pins & figure of 8 wiring
full cast ankle to thigh 7 weeks.
18/5/10 cast removed xray showing hairline crack
26/7/10 walking unaided,full rom
31/10/2010.6 months post-op check,bone not healed,harware cant be removed

Offline Skiier Jo Jo

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Re: Circulation - leg going red?
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2011, 11:18:41 AM »
Thanks guys, I'm still on heparin, so DVT shouldn't be an issue, but of course I am always wary.  It was fine after being elavated for a while and my husband massaging the calf, so I think it was a bit of blood pooling due to inactivity and then my calf getting a bit tight.  I read a lot about people seeing similar things on here and so it seems to be fairly normal.

Was a bit freaked for a second there.....
Skiier Jo Jo

Aged 33
Fractured tibial tubercle (plus other bits sloughed off!) and displaced meniscus on 24th Dec 2010
Emergency surgery - Zimmer plate and 10 screws (8 permanent). Straight leg brace
Physio started on day 6. 
Feb 2011 - almost fully straighten leg, with up to 85 degree bend















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