Injury update time!! One of these days I won’t write about being injured, and hopefully that’s in the near future, but for now…
Last we heard, I had a stress reaction in my right tibia and fibula. I’d had pain in my right calf for about a year and a half, but that was mostly overshadowed by the hip pain. I was never really convinced that the calf pain was due to a stress reaction because I’ve never broken any bones. (Okay, minus my little toe when I ran into a couch and my little finger when someone hit it too hard during a church game, ha.) But no big bones, and definitely no stress reactions/fractures in my almost twenty years of running. That’s a pretty solid record. I’m also convinced that if you did an MRI on my other leg, it would probably should stress reaction symptoms as well. (An internet search revealed a study of female college cross country runners, and most of them showed stress reactions on MRI, but no pain, and it wasn’t predictive of future stress fractures.)
But that’s what it said, so that’s what we dealt with. Last Monday, I saw an endocrinologist (to see if I had any metabolic problems that may cause delayed healing) and had a follow-up MRI. The endocrinologist seemed a little confused about the whole thing and said that delayed healing isn’t really until you’ve gone six months without resolution. But she drew blood and almost everything came back normal. My calcium was on the low side of normal and Vitamin D was low (it’s March, I can’t run, and I study a lot…), so she wanted me to start taking supplements. My TSH (a thyroid test) was the best it’s been since I was diagnosed, so that’s good. (Much better than it was in August, and I’ve done nothing different, but oh well.)
I had my follow up MRI and got a call a few days later that the stress reaction had healed. Which is good news, minus the fact that my calf feels exactly the same. The physician assistant said I could do two 2 mile runs before following up with her, and the runs felt the same as they’ve always felt. (Although super slow and I’m so out of shape.) So I went for a follow up appointment with the PA I see, and she looked at my calf again. We had discussed trigger point injections over the phone, and I was hoping she would do them. She did! Basically, you can inject saline, steroids, or Botox into a muscle and it helps to break up the knots and tissue. She went with saline (not steroids I’m assuming because of the stress reaction). It’s a tiny needle that you insert a few times into the muscle. She did a few injections then had me walk around, then did a few more. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel right away, plus I’ve had this feeling in my calf for over a year so I’m not even sure what to feel!
It did feel a little looser, so I think that’s good. She had me run on a treadmill and watched my gait, which she said looked good…so that’s a plus because I’m never sure if I’m running weird and that’s what is causing all this trouble.
She told me to start running again the next day and to aggressively roll out the calf area. (I use a lacrosse ball because it’s the only thing that gets really deep into the muscle.) I have some bruises where the injections were, and the calf was a little tender the next day. But I ran three miles…..and I think it feels a little loosened up. It has always felt like I don’t have any spring in my step and that I lose any momentum when I put my right foot down, and I feel like I have a little more bounce when I run. Maybe it’s a placebo effect, but I’m hoping it’s better. The PA said this might not take me to 100% and that we may have to repeat them. I think I feel like part of the knot isn’t as hard, so maybe I need a repeat to help with more of it.
I was also advised to do calf raises and exercises with an exercise band (which I’d been doing) because if the muscle has been so tight for so long, then it’s probably been inactive and needs to be strengthened. With the hip stuff, I feel like I could give up running and just so rehab stuff, haha.
I did a second run yesterday and I still think my calf feels loosened. I feel incredibly slow and out of shape – running nine minute miles (it’s all relative) and taking walk breaks. (I debated officially run/walking again and…..I probably should, but….) My left hip feels really tight so I rolled that out too and it seemed to help. I’m falling apart over here, but at least I’m cleared to run? ha.
The PA said to email her later this week after a few runs to let her know how I’m doing, so I’ll do that and go from there – and maybe (hopefully?) repeat the injections to see if that helps more.
I’m considering signing up for a race just for run…going to give it a few more days and go from there.