A 23-year-old Delhi man recovering from a fractured ankle died after his mother gave him an oil massage to relieve the pain.
The man had injured his ankle, while playing badminton in September. His ankle was put in a cast to immobilise it. Even after the plaster was removed, the man had pain and swelling in his leg. As a result of the immobility, he developed blood clots in his leg veins. When his mother massaged his ankle, it dislodged a large clot that travelled to his lungs and choked him.
“Deep vein thrombosis is a known complication of plastering the legs. It is not very common, but it happens. Hence, it is important that an orthopaedic doctor be consulted in case the pain and swelling persists even after the plaster is removed,” said Dr Sudhir Gupta, head of the department of forensic medicine at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where the post-mortem was conducted.
Nearly 70 of every 100,000 patients of bone injury may have deep vein thrombosis, a problem also faced by fliers due to cramped leg room in aircraft, after such immobilisation.
The post-mortem confirmed that death was caused by a large clot, 5X1cm in diameter, which dislodged from the leg veins during the massage and travelled to the pulmonary artery that supplies blood to the lungs, causing instant death.
The 23-year-old was rushed to AIIMS emergency at 9.30pm on October 31 in an unconscious and unresponsive state.
“The force applied on the leg during the massage dislodged the clot and resulted in the death,” Dr Gupta said. “This should serve as a warning for people to not massage an area that has been recently hurt. It is okay to put herbal oils or anti-inflammatory creams, but pressure must not be applied on the area. If there are clots, then they will dissolve on their own.”
The case has been reported in the latest issue of Medico-Legal Journal. It says massages are often given for general fitness and for treating minor health problems. The mother had massaged the leg to alleviate pain and was unaware of the complications.
“There was no advice recorded in the hospital by the doctors about the risks and dangers of a massage to this affected leg. This advice should have been provided,” it says.