Back Pain from Crutches

Hi.  My name is Sammy and I recently broke my left ankle while rollerblading.  I am 32 years old and took up this hobby as a way to get more exercise out in the world.  Blading is cool, but I guess I was not prepared for the risks and ended up falling hard, after getting my skate caught in the street, twisting my ankle badly and suffering 2 fractures.  

I underwent an open reduction of the fractures and pin placement.  Apparently, the damage was quite bad to require extensive surgery.  My orthopedist said that everything went well and a couple of days after surgery, I was up and around on crutches.  This is actually the start of where everything started to go wrong for me.

I soon began to get around quite well on my crutches, returning to my office work and doing all the usual things a person does to live.  Showering was tough, since I had to keep the injured leg dry, but otherwise, life continued moving forward.  Within 2 weeks of using the crutches, I began to have minor aching in my shoulders and upper back, bilaterally.  My orthopedist said that this is normal and common.  I was told not to worry about it.  

Within 2 days, I was out “walking” during my lunch break when I felt a pop in my lower back.  I immediately fell to the ground, not being able to hold myself up after the sudden onset of terrible pain.  People rushed over to help me, but I told them to just leave me alone.  I was in misery.  This pain came out of nowhere and was blinding in its fury.  I thought I was going to die.  An ambulance came and took me to the emergency room, where I was left unattended for hours until an orthopedist saw me.  I was examined, which was a horrible experience.  Each time the doctor would try to move me, with help from 2 orderlies, I suffered spasms that made me cry.  The pain was awful.

I was given some pain medications and then an injection that basically knocked me out.  I still felt the pain, but it seemed far away and more tolerable.  I was given an emergency CT scan that showed some degenerated discs in my lower spine and some bulging, as well.  The doctor said that these issues did not seem to be responsible for my intractable pain and also explained that since I was bent to one side, the problem was most likely muscular.  He said there was nothing else he could do for me and recommended that I follow up with my orthopedist ASAP.

The next day, I was able to get into my doctors office for an unscheduled visit.  My orthopedist took my condition in stride, saying it was most likely a muscular problem caused by my crutch use.  I felt no better and was really beginning to get concerned.  He had no answers for me, but suggested that I follow up with physical therapy colleague of his for an examination.  He also told me that my ankle was fine, despite my fall.  At least there was some good news.

At this point, I am waiting to see the physical therapist.  I still have really bad pain, but it is tolerable with the medication prescribed by my doctor.  If I fail to take the pills, then I can’t move, sleep, eat or do anything. This makes me nervous.  I hope that I do not have to rely on the drugs for too long, because I can not work with them and I really do not like the way they make me feel.

Does anyone have a similar experience suffering this kind of pain from using crutches?  I would love a little reassurance.  I hope that I will get better.  Since this happened to me, I have been reading lots of information about back pain, which I never had before, and I am really scared.  Finding this site helped a lot, because there is a lot of information and some of the other reader’s stories gave me hope that I can recover soon and completely. At least this is my hope.  Best, Sammy



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