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lower back pain, my knee had weird sensation, my ankle feels kind of swollen

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Hi, my problem started a few months back, I was doing some heavy lifting, then shortly after I experienced back pain and my right side from the butt cheek down went numb. It eventually got better, however now I still have a bit of lower back pain, my knee has a weird sensation to it, my ankle feels kind of swollen but its not, and it sort of feels like shin splints. I was just wondering, are these symptoms possibly related to my back problem or could it be something else?


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Category: Family Physician-GP
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Expert:  Dr. John Monheit replied 4 Days.

Thank you for using Ask a Doctor Service from Doctor Spring.

I can understand your problem, and I will try to help you the best possible.

The low back pain that you have is probably due to heavy lifting, which has caused strain in your back muscles. This happens very common especially at your age, and it usually resolves on its own in few weeks’ time. The unusual sensation in the knee and ankle swelling could have also been caused due to heavy lifting, due to over stretching of the tendon or ligament, but if it persistent beyond a month or so, or if it becomes painful then it might be caused by some other problem and may not be due to heavy lifting. So if the swelling gradually increase or becomes painful, then you must consult with a GP/ orthopaedic specialist, who will examine you and might insist for x-ray of knee and ankle which will help in diagnosing the underlying problem.

Firstly, to get relief from low back pain, I would like to recommend you the following simple therapies:

  1. You do not have to take complete rest, but try not to over exert yourself with physical activity.
  2. Apply heat or ice to the painful area at your back. Try ice for the first 48-72 hours, and then use heat after that.
  3. Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can take up to three tablets daily after food.
  4. While sleeping, try lying in a curled-up, with a pillow between your legs. If you usually sleep on your back, place a pillow or rolled towel under your knees to relieve pressure.
  5. Do not perform activities that involve heavy lifting for the first 6 weeks after the pain begins. After 2-3 weeks, you should gradually resume exercise.
  6. Begin with light cardiovascular training. Walking, riding a stationary bicycle, and swimming are great examples. Such aerobic activities can help blood flow to your back and promote healing. They also strengthen muscles in your stomach and back.
  7. Stretching and strengthening exercises are important in the long run. However, starting these exercises too soon after an injury can make your pain worse. A physical therapist can help you determine when to begin stretching and strengthening exercises and how to do so.

Secondly, to reducing ankle swelling, using an Ace bandage, wrap the ankle from the toes all the way up to the top of the calf muscle, overlapping the elastic wrap by one-half of the width of the wrap. The wrap should be snug, but not cutting off circulation to the foot and ankle. So, if your foot becomes cold, blue, or falls asleep, re-wrap. Keep your ankle sprain higher than your heart as often as possible. Elevate at night by placing pillows under the foot of your mattresses and just stand up slowly in the morning. If these measures don't relieve your back pain and ankle swelling, then I would recommend you to consult with GP for further evaluation.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask if you have further questions.

Thank you


Dr. John Monheit
Category: Family Physician-GP
Experience: 
Residecny: North Colorado Family Medicine
Medical School: The Chicago Medical Center
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