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"Can your white blood count be high due to a broken ankle?"

ZocdocAnswersCan your white blood count be high due to a broken ankle?


I have 2 broken ankles and have to have surgery. When I had my blood work done, my white blood cell count was high.


Thank you very much for your question, and I am sorry to hear about your broken ankles. I would recommend that you speak with your physician further about your lab results, but here are some general considerations. First, there are many causes of an elevated white blood cell count, and the lab value needs to be interpreted in the context of other laboratory results, medical history, and any symptoms that you may have. The short answer to your question is yes, broken ankles and indeed any cause of stress can cause an elevation in the white blood cell count. This is caused by the release of stress hormones (catecholamines such as epinephrine) that release more white blood cells into the circulation. However, there are many other causes of this elevation. Infection is one of the most concerning causes of elevated white cells, especially if you have fever, cough, abdominal pain, diarrhea, pain with urination, skin tenderness/redness, or other infectious symptoms. Many medications can also cause this laboratory finding, most classically steroids such as prednisone. Chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease are another potential culprit. The list is much longer than what is listed above, so again I would strongly recommend that you meet with your physician team to discuss the possible causes in your particular situation. Best of luck!

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