Broken Lower Leg: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Lower leg fracture

Treatment for your broken leg will depend on how bad the break is. Your doctor may have put your lower leg in a splint or a cast to allow it to heal or keep it stable until you see another doctor. It may take weeks or months for your leg to heal. You can help it heal with some care at home.

You heal best when you take good care of yourself. Eat a variety of healthy foods, and don't smoke.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Put ice or a cold pack on your lower leg for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake). Put a thin cloth between the ice and your cast or splint. Keep your cast or splint dry.
  • Follow the cast care instructions your doctor gives you. If you have a splint, do not take it off unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Do not put weight on your leg unless your doctor tells you to. Use crutches to walk.
  • Prop up your leg on pillows when you sit or lie down in the first few days after the injury. Keep your leg higher than the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Follow instructions for exercises to keep your leg strong.
  • Wiggle your toes often to reduce swelling and stiffness.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have increased or severe pain.
  • Your foot is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your toes.
  • Your cast or splint feels too tight.
  • You cannot move your toes.
  • You have signs of a blood clot, such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • The skin under your cast or splint is burning or stinging.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: March 21, 2017