Friday, October 24, 2008

Tibial Stress Fracture

"You ran a marathon on that?" My newly introduced orthopedic surgeon pointed at a film and looked questioningly at me.

"Yes," I demurred.

"And you finished it?" He sought clarification.

"Yes." I reined in the satisfied smile.

Earlier that morning, my regular doctor called to inform me my MRI results were in. I had a confirmed tibial stress fracture. He passed on the referral to the orthopod.

I can't really say I'm surprised. It didn't initially feel like it does now, which is very bone-oriented. Vince explained, "Your body knows about the stress fracture before you do, and sends signals to the other muscles to tighten up to protect it." That seemed accurate. My initial complaint seemed more soft-tissue related, and I'd dismissed the possibility of a stress fracture several times.

Vince thinks I may only need to rest a total of 4-6 weeks. I'm already two weeks into it. The doctor, of course, was a bit more cautious, suggesting three months of rest. He's not a runner. I'm pretty sure he's never run a day in his life. I really feel safe saying that.

My doctor suggested a cast as a means of comfort and pain control. I asked him if it would help me heal any faster. He said it wouldn't. I re-iterated that it hurt to walk with every step, and just wanted to be sure I wasn't doing additional damage by walking on it. With the emphasis on necessary walking only, he said, no, I wasn't doing any additional damage or prolonging the injury. We skipped the cast.

He offered pain medication, which I also skipped. I intend to mask nothing in the process of the healing. Pain is an important guide. I will be listening carefully.


RunColo said...

Bummer! I got a stress fracture in my tibia (right leg) after the Denver Marathon in 2006. I was in the boot for 8 weeks.

I'll warn you, it's not an easy injury to come back from. When I started to resume my training, I got all kinds of other odd pain, not in the stress fracture but in my other leg. I think that because your leg is in that boot for so long it gets weak and when you resume running, your form is off, thus your left leg compensates.

It probably took me about four months before I was running every day, I had a ton of little set backs. Hope you don't get that!

Shoot me an email if you have questions though.

runner-grrl said...

Runcolo, Sorry to hear that you went through the same thing (even the same leg!), but I'm happy that you have obviously resumed your successful running career!

I can't wait to run again, and really can think of little else.

I might drop you a note. I'd be interested to hear about the types of workouts you did at first (surfaces, duration, distance, quality, etc.)