Saturday, October 25, 2014
Thursday, July 17, 2008 from nantucket, Community Member, asks

Q: I am asking about a sunburn related problem which has been affecting my ankle with severe pain.

On Sunday, July 13th I got a bad sunburn. I have had sunburns in the past and everything seemed normal (for a sunburn that is) except for my inner left ankle and part of my inner left shin. The length of the sunburn on my left leg goes from mid thigh to the top of my foot ending just before my toes. The width of the sunburn on my left leg is from just left of center shin to (going right to the inside of the leg) almost the backside of my leg. My entire ankle on the inner left leg is sunburnt and there is considerable swelling to the point where my ankle bone does not show.


My worst pain doesn't come from the burn on top of my skin but what feels like deep under the skin. the pain stays on the inner right side of my left leg and goes from mid shin to my ankle. The pain rolls down my leg throbbing more and more until it peaks and centers itself around my inner left ankle but the shin still throbs in pain but not as much as the ankle.


This pain starts when I put my left foot down after it has been elevated for awhile then like beads in a rainstick the pain rolls down my leg and grows to unbearable amounts. When I push myself through so I can walk the pressure increases and walking is almost unbearable but then when walking or attempt of, the pain will dull and sometimes completely subside. Now if I simply stand that will bring the pain back. But when walking it will postpone the pain for a few minutes but no longer than ten fifteen minutes. When the pain comes back while walking it is never more mild than when it comes back while just standing or the worst as is when I get up after having the leg elevated.


A friend of mine says it may be sun poisoning but everything I have looked up shows no true correlation with my current symptoms other than the sunburn itself. The big question is should I be treating this condition differently than a normal sunburn, like taking antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications. I am not asking to be prescribed or for diagonsis only knowledgeable suggestions for me to take into consideration.

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Answers (8)
feedm, Community Member
1/20/09 5:50pm

I'm having a very similar problem relating to sunburn on my legs.

I really hope you did get better from this.


If you got over this problem, could you please let me know, I'm very scared right now.

TubbsyMalone, Community Member
12/19/10 6:05am



My GF is having the exact same problem, was out on a boat for three hrs forgot sunscreen and me and her had sunburn to arms and legs, quite bad red tight skin really stinging but not blistering, i mean we have both been burnt this bad and probably worse in past but this time she is experiencing exactly what you have described, really bad muscle pain from knee down, so bad she cannot stand or walk.

We got burnt yesterday at around midday and she was bad this morning afer waking up taking some time to stand but once she was up and walking around she had no problems - taking just ibuprofen. But later on in the evening after sitting for some time she went to get up and all the pain came back and she could not stand without agonising pain so this is over 24hrs since the original burn and she is quite worried as she has never had this pain with a sunburn and tbh i look more red than her but i am just experiencing the norm - tight red skin thats easily aggravated.


After i googled for quite some time it appeared that there are a few people who have experienced similar symptoms but there seems to be no answers or diagnosis of this extreme leg pain which prompted me to bump this old thread in hope of an explanation as to what it could be and if it is serious or not.


Any info would be great even if your suffering similar conditions as there isnt a great deal i could find on the subject.



kathiess, Community Member
3/10/11 10:00pm

Mr. Malone,


I have has this problem.  Was your GF dianosed?  Did she get better?  I am looking for other patients who have encountered this.




Sharon, Community Member
6/ 6/12 6:14am

I know it's been a while since you posted this, but did they ever diagnose what it was with your girlfriend?  I'm going through that now and finding out nobody has heard of it, but seeing a lot of blogs with the same symptoms.  Same with be been burnt in the past, but never this severe pain when lower my left leg.  Knee to shin.  It's horrible.  I wrote another long post showing my experience. Thanks.

gothlover24, Community Member
8/ 2/12 2:47pm

i had this and the pain is unbearable you cant walk and standing in one place couldnt be done!! the pain can be blinding and it is scary because you wonder what have you done and will this go away?? no one gets it unless they have had it thay all think they get it but they dont!! in my experience it took 10 days to have no pain durring this time i showered took lots of ibueprofin and sprayed on and forced myself to rubbing on solarcain. then the itching and peeling started this does not mean you out of the woods try not to wear pants if walking around alot the fresh skin will get irritated and very very soar!! i did this and it was not pleasant at that pont cortazone 10 was my friend in 2 days my legs were less irritated and no more red bumps from irritation. i hope this helps some ppl i was scared and there are alot of storiesof ppl suffering but not many fallowups to help the rest of us so i hope this is a life line for someone out there :)

SigFloyd, Community Member
7/19/11 2:20pm

I'm also suffering from exactly this kind of severe sunburn on both my ankles and shins. It's only the third day into it, so the pain is just as exquisite as ever.


The best thing I can do whenever I have to stand or walk is to slowly and steadily pump my legs like I'm jogging in place to forestall blood from pooling into my shins and ankles. When you absolutely have to get up after sitting or lying down it's best to get up as quickly as you can for the same reason. Just spring up onto your feet and get moving.


In other words, whenever you're vertical stillness is your worst enemy.


I don't know much else on how to deal with this, but hopefully these tricks will help getting up and about less excruciating.

kathiess, Community Member
7/22/11 10:04pm

Sig Floyd - Are you better by now?  Did you find out what happend?



kathiess, Community Member
7/24/11 9:56pm

Sig Frid - If you look at, you will see a lot of people who have had this problem.  Most of them have gotten better.



Sharon, Community Member
6/ 6/12 6:08am

I have had sunburns in the past.  Received a bad one last Sunday,but the strangest thing about it, which never happened before is when I lower my left leg only, the pressure and pain is unbearable.  I'm talking a 10 on a pain scale from one to ten.  When I lay down it goes away.  It's in the front shin.  Knee going down to ankle area.  I'm a nurse and never heard of such a thing.  I've been to Emergency room and they were worried it might be compartmental syndrome, but decided against it.  Just sent me home with some meds and crutches.  Went to Dr. the following day and they did x-rays, which everyone told me wouldn't show anything but maybe some swelling.  I kept getting told by friends I need ultrasound and be concerned that the swelling and pressure that pools to the lower legs could cut off cirulation.  So been checking my pedal pulses.  Nobody in the medical profession seems to know exactly what is going on.  I guess it's rare, but I see a lot of people on blogs that have experienced the same thing and it go better, but still have sometype of nerve pain for months later.  Something Im trying to avoid.  I have to work 12hr as nurse. The only relief I finally got is when they gave me a steroid injection helping the inflammation.  It was better than any narcotics or advils I was taking.  It's just very frustrating that the medical field doesn't undersand exactly what it causes and our sending me down all these other roads which I know is not it, but they have to in order for the insurance companies to progress to paying for tests that actually can diagnose it.  You have to have all these test first, and then pretty much have to wait and see and beg to even get a MRI or nerve conduction tests.  Which is crazy!  Esp, if it is something serious.  I'm just posting this so if other people go through this be proactive and check your pedal/foot pulses reg to make sure the artery doesn't get occluded from the extreme pressure that flows to the leg.  I'm praying that it will ease up and I can go back to a normal life.  I'm on my 4th day and like I said the steroid injection helped the pain more than anything.  As for just the sunburn I have tried all the aloe with lidocaine etc and I find that the best thing to sooth the burn and prevent blisters is old fashion Noxema.  My grandmother used it on me when I was younger.  It cools the skin down and moisturizes it.  Of course if you are a diabetic or some other medical problems you can get the steroid injection usually 'cause it bring blood sugars up and noxema on open blisters can cause infection.  I am very lucky 'cause I have a very compassionate Nurse practioner I go to.  She stayed in the clinic with me till 8:30 last night helping me with forms for work, x-rays, injection etc.  So, nobody feel alone with this I have now been there.  Never thought of something like that or even heard of it and most of my nursing co-workers haven't either so feel like How can they understand how severe this pain is, but their is a good few good ones out there that understand.  Hope this helps someone going through the same thing.

Avas1223, Community Member
9/ 9/12 9:29pm

I am having the same problem, I was sunburned yesterday and towards the evening it became hard to walk, a lot of pain in the knee and shins. I can't believe having a sunburn can cause this type of pain, but after reading a few posts on the same symptomes, I guess it happens.  For the burning I placed wet paper towels on the areas that burn, I've tried to keep my legs elevated, and I've take ibruprofin, which helped a whole lot.


MaryC, Community Member
8/ 8/12 7:42pm

I just got on here b/c I'm having almost exact same issue. Sunburnt from mid-thigh to ankle on fronts of both legs, and have had excruciating pain in fronts of shins upon standing. Keeping legs moving/shaking my legs like a runner trying to loosen up seems to help. Tonight the swelling has gotten really bad--I can't even see my left inner ankle bone, and my legs have never swollen that much before. But I've seen enough people post that this can happen after a bad sunburn that I'm going to give it a few more days before I worry (I'm on day 3 after sunburn currently). I currently only have catastrophic (high deductible) health insurance so I'd rather not go to doc if I can help it. But if it gets worse I will. Thanks folks!

Sameproblem, Community Member
7/30/13 2:13am
I actually have this right now, after spending the day in the sun, my legs managed to get very bad burned. I reapplied sunscreen everywhere multiple times but I guess the ocean would wash it away quickly, I don't know honestly, that's not the point. Anyway I am burned bad, although I've been sunburnt way worse but I've never had this type of pain. No where else is burnt but my lower thighs, legs, ankle and feet. Yesterday night (day of burn) it was just intense pain non-stop, today it's better but there's still a deep pain, usually when I stand after sitting/ laying down. (Possibly unreleated, but the sun or sunburn has left me exhausted the last 24 hours so I've been sleeping a lot) Today the pain just sitting is basically non-existent. Except when I stand the deep muscle pain is nothing I've felt before, in both feet/legs it feels like some muscle injury. It's tough to explain, but it usually goes away after a few seconds of waiting for the pain to stop. I'm not sure why it's doing it, but my guess would be the burn dried out my skin, and it's compressing the muscles, I'm not a doctor so I really don't know. I guess if the pain continues to decrease like it did from yesterday to today I'm not going to worry. I'll try to keep it updated if I remember. I'm on day 2 of my vacation so hopefully I'm better and I forget about this post. Reply
Sameproblem2, Community Member
8/ 4/13 1:12am
Previous poster here. I apologize for not having the same username. I didn't use a valid email last time so I had to create a new username. Anyway, I'd just like to update the situation. I finally went to the dr thursday after the deep muscle/bone pain kept getting worse. They were quite shocked at how badly burned I was. They said the deep intense pain was from extreme swelling from the burn. They gave me a steroid shot in my butt, have me some Silver Sulfadiazine Cream and they told me to take an Apple Cider Vinegar bath. (Seriously) So I would use about 2/3 gallon of apple cider vinegar and fill the tub with water only until it covered my legs. I would relax for 20 minutes-30 minutes and I would use the cream and then use not stick cloth bandage type things and I wrapped it with athelete tape. Since it took up my entire legs. Ps ( For more localized burn you could just use a rag soaked in vinegar they said) Within 6 hours my legs started blistering. Deep pain still intense whenever standing. Burn in general wasn't so bad. Frida:, blisters were mostly gone. Still very red. Deep pain was a lot better, still there but 2 ibuprofens took it away. Saturday: (today) No pain at all, blisters gone, redness is more pink (minus shins, ankle where deep pain occurred, still red w/ no pain) starting to peel, and just itchy. I'm definitely healing thank god. I went 5 days with almost no improvement and I seek treatment and I'm feeling much better in 24-36 hours. At this rate I'm confident ill be near 90% by work on Monday. I don't know how the vinegar works but I'm going to use that on my next Sunburn although I hope that was the last. If you don't want to visit a dr, that would definitely be the first thing I'd try, along with ibuprofen for the swelling, but if you can they may be able to tell you something I missed. I hope that was enough info and it helps someone out.... PS again, the sick feeling the day after the sunburn was most likely dehydration the dr said. So don't ignore that, drink enough water and if the sick feeling gets worse go see a doctor. If you're reading this, feel better. Reply
Nick, Community Member
6/18/14 10:15pm
I got sunburned while floating the river on Fathers Day and began to feel these exact same symptoms that same night. The pain of standing was almost unbareable, but it would subside when I began to walk. I thought I was crazy because this burn didn't seem all that bad to me. I've been badly sunburnt more times than I can count and I'm only 24 years old. After talking to some nurses who are friends of the family, I was informed that these symptoms mean 3rd to 4th degree burns and nerve damage. I waited 3 days to seek medical help thinking I could take care of it myself, like the several times before. I tried Aloe Vera gel with lidocaine, the Apple Cider Vinegar bath, ice to reduce the swelling of my ankle. These things help a little but do not address the main thing causing the pain....the nerve damage. My recommendation however is go see your doctor immediately! Do NOT wait! Reply
Rtillman, Community Member
7/29/14 3:28pm

I recently went on a kayaking trip with my sister her husband and my niece.  We didnt wear sunblock and all got sun burned including our legs.  My niece had no problems but my sister, her husband, and I all have the same exact symptoms of everyones experience on this forum.  Ive never heard of such a sunburn related issue and have had sunburn in the past but never had this horrible lower leg pain.  All three of us are hobbling around in severe pain.  The pain is not as bad when legs are elevated but I do have stabbing pains like im being pinched or bitten by bugs and i cant do anything about it.  I cant sit with my legs not elevated because the pain comes back.  When I go to put my legs down after being elevated there is extreme pressure followed by stabbing pain.  i have to slowly raise my legs up and down and bend my knees a bunch to get acclimated just enough to stand which doesnt help completely but gives me a head start.  I had to call out of work because I can barely walk.  When I finally do get up to walk the pain gradually goes away, not completely, and if I stand in place it comes back and my knees buckle in pain.  I took 400mg of Ibuprofen which helped but doesnt last long.  When I woke up this morning i could get my feet on the floor without pain, a good sign of healing, Thank you Jesus for answering my prayers.  Yesterday morning the pain was so severe it took me 5 minutes just to get my feet on the floor.  This is the 3rd day of this pain, today is not as bad.  I no longer have to "prep" my legs for walking. On the 2nd day if figured out that If I dont wait to start walking after sitting up walking is more bearable. I went to doctor this morning he gave me prednisone 60mg daily dose.  It seems to be helping. Not having as much pain walking.  Inflammation in legs and around ankles appear to be reducing.  For anyone new reading these post there is light at the end of the tunnel.  You will get better.  Go to the doctor and get anti inflammatory meds.  I think it is sunburn related swelling and inflammation that is putting pressure on legs causing pain.  God Bless.

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By from nantucket, Community Member— Last Modified: 07/29/14, First Published: 07/17/08