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Monday, November 25, 2013

No news is good news?

Let's back things up a few weeks to my last doctor's appointment. I went in hoping to hear something, but instead I news.
I felt pretty much the same as before. My doctor not-so-politely told me that I was probably just a wimp, that my leg was no doubt fine, and that my bone probably always looked like that - some kind of structural anomaly (not true, I have x-rays from a few months ago). He was out of options.
He told me go see an endocrinologist, a spine guy, and a surgeon. He dropped the oncologist recommendation since I pointed out that I already had all that labwork done and nope, no cancer.

So, I really didn't know what to do. But about this time I emailed Camille Herron and her reply was incredibly helpful. Basically she told me - femur fractures can take a long time to heal, especially if you re-injure them! She also recommended I work with my PT to determine why a healthy person like myself would experience these fractures.

So I made a tentative plan:
- Rest until bone pain goes away.
- Determine problem areas
- Once pain free, work on problem areas (week hips, tight adductors).
- Gradually introduce running when feeling stronger.
- Go slow! Ten minutes running to start; work up a few minutes at a time.

In the meantime, take calcium and vitamin D and all that and do core work and upper body to keep from going crazy.
All the rooms in my house but two have beautiful hardwood floors. I always take pictures in the other two.

So that's what I did. Or rather, what I'm doing, since I'm still in the "go slow" part. Total rest (plus calcitonin) healed up my bone; in fact, it felt better in just a few days of rest. I used those days to test muscle strength and try to learn my body better. Next I found exercises and stretches to fix problems I suspected, and only then did I try to run.
I had several good days of ten-minute runs, but I had set-backs, too: one day I felt pain at the femur site again, and rested it for 4 days break. Now I'm still just gradually working back. I don't think I'm out of the woods yet: I feel like I definitely have a tendency to injure the same area again. So I have to be incredibly careful. As far as I can tell, my problems stem from some muscle or tendon issue that causes it to tug on the bone... but I still don't know how I went from totally healthy to acute injury to chronic pain in one year! Crazy!
But I'm doing my best to heal up, so wish me luck, and share all the advice you have!


  1. Yay! Glad its getting better and good for you for taking the rest time you need! I would caution you to take more.... I only had a stress reaction (precursor to a fracture, and not as serious) and took 3 full weeks off, then cross-trained (non impact) for 6 weeks, and am only just starting to run with walk breaks now.

    Also... am curious how your doctor can diagnose a stress fracture from an Xray? I think the conventional wisdom is that you need an MRI for them to show up....

    Anyway, yay for being smart and doing all the right things. You'll get there!!

    1. Sometimes you can see a fracture on an X-ray - especially once it is healing. The first x-ray I had was enormously obvious (huge calcification from running on the fracture for months with a misdiagnosis). Nonetheless, I did get an MRI, as well, which confirmed the diagnosis while also looking for soft tissue damage.

  2. Hang in there! I've learned slowly but surely that you have to be proactive with your healthcare, just like you're doing. You know your body better than any doctor does, and sometimes they just pull a diagnosis out of their hats it seems :( When they know you're on top of things, they pay just a little bit more attention to your individual needs.

  3. Hey- I met Camille at my last marathon. She totally smoked me in the race but was as nice as could be at the awards. :-) Glad she was able to give you some helpful advice. Sometimes hearing from a runner who has gone through the same injury is more helpful than anything else!

    I hope things progress and you start feeling much better soon! Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. I know this is totally off topic, but I have to know. How was your experience with your shoe goo repair? were you happy long term, did it stand up well? I am a forefoot striker, so I destroy the outside edge of shoes, since almost every shoe make places all their outer sole on the heel and not the forefoot.

    1. It stood up well enough for the rest of the shoe to wear out equally. It bought me time. I use it the same way you do: repair areas of damage so I can keep using the perfectly good remainder of the shoe!

  5. It seems like 9 out of 10 doctors you see tell you that you're wimpy. So if it looks like a duck. Just sayin'. Seriously I think it's great that you're going slow and not pushing it. From following you for a while now, I know that its probably driving you nuts. But I'm glad you're trying to be a good patient.

  6. I'm not sure if you've done it, but bikram yoga has really helped my injuries this year. Seems to help heal things quicker bc of the heat getting blood flow to the areas. It helped my back/high hamstring in the winter and my bone cruise this fall... I would try it out and see. I noticed a big difference from just 1 session for both injuries. I still try and go once a week but sometimes I can't fit it in.

  7. That all sounds like a good plan to me. Gradually increase your running and you will be fine - though for you that means no more track races lol!

  8. I vote for extra rest, as well. Taking time off sucks, but if you're gonna heal, you might as well do it right. In the meantime...hang in there!!

  9. Hi Gracie! I recently found your blog because I was diagnosed with a stress fracture on my femoral shaft a few weeks ago. I'm so sorry that yours has nagged you for so long! I'm hoping you'll recover soon! I totally understand your frustration!

    My ortho/sports med doctor prescribed 4 weeks of crutches then 4 weeks of daily living (can walk to school etc) + PT and no running the whole 8 weeks. Then I can start 1 min running, 3 min walking and progressing from there.

    I've looked up Camille's blog and her advice on healing fractures with walking to promote blood flow so now I'm torn between the crutches and walking- what did she tell you?

    1. Sorry about your fracture! I think my situation is a little different because I initially ran on my fracture for 5 months before it was diagnosed (misdiagnosed as hamstring tear). So by the time I saw my doctor, a callous was already forming. So I was pool running for 6 weeks, but not on crutches. Then I reinjured the area.
      I think given my experience I'd vote for less initial activity - I always think my doctor allows people to return to activity too soon, and the only thing that relieved the pain was actually resting it. Plus, I think my complicated course may be due to using the bone when I should have been resting it. I didn't ask Camille's advice on this particular area, but I've often wished I'd had crutches at first!

    2. 5 months? Holy cow! I'm sorry you were misdiagnosed :( how long did you take off running when you were initially diagnosed? I've been swimming a lot- trying to do non-weight bearing activity. I also already had a callus forming when I got my x-ray-they saw the periosteal bump. I'm not sure if you've looked into this but I also started taking Vit D (up to 4000 IU/day is safe) and some Ca supplements too.

      Try avoiding weight bearing activity! You're an amazing running and I hope you're able to get back into it soon :) Good luck!

    3. After diagnosis I took off 6 weeks, but after that I came back too quickly. I wasn't totally healed yet, even though I didn't feel any pain. SO I agree with your doc. I could have saved myself the reinjury if I had taken more time off!
      I'd recommend you get your Ca and D levels drawn, then supplement accordingly. And add Mg. If your D levels are low you may need more than just 400 iu.

  10. Definitely keep up with PT and do whatever strengthening exercises they give you. You don't want any degenerative shit going down.