November 8, 2016

So I Have a Metatarsal Stress Fracture

So this really isn't the thing you want to be given (aka pay for) at the doctor's office as a runner. 

metatarsal-stress-fracture-blog-runner

It seems I have a metatarsal stress fracture in my right foot. 

According to OrthoInfo a stress fracture is "a small crack in a bone, or severe bruising within a bone. Most stress fractures are caused by overuse and repetitive activity, and are common in runners and athletes who participate in running sports, such as soccer and basketball." Recovery time for healing is 6-8 weeks. 

How it started
So 6 days after the Chicago Marathon on 10/9 and a couple easy runs, I decided to run the 5K and a leg of the marathon relay (Leg 4- 7 miles) at the Baltimore Running Festival on 10/15/16. It was super fun and the excitement got to me so I ran a little fast. The next day as I took my first steps during my run with the Charm City Run training group I was coaching, I had pain on the bottom side of my foot that did not go away.  In fact it continued to hurt the next couple of day as I took each step walking. It was mostly this pain on the outside of my foot which made me suspect tendinosis, but there was also this achy not sharp pain on the bottom top and heel of my foot that also felt kinda burning sometimes.  

Initial Steps
I took a a bunch of rest days, iced my foot, and used some KT tape to tape it up. It was feeling better later that week by the time of the appointment I made with the orthopedist. I've never had any injuries so I was freaked out and wanted to get it looked at. Things felt good and the X-Rays came back clear. I did a couple shorter runs with my training group (3, 4 miles), and it felt a lot better.  

Monday 10/24 I went for a 9 mile run with a friend, and my foot felt great until just after mile 4 where it was in pain. After the run it was in a lot of pain-no bueno. So I called my doctor and got an MRI scheduled for 10/29. Perhaps for another post, but MRIs are SO weird. 

MRI & Where I'm At Now
The MRI saw some bursitis between my 2nd, 3rd, 4th metatarsals (inflammation between my toes), tendinosis and fluid at my peroneal longus tendon (inflammation in my tendon along the outer edge of my foot), and a 4th metatarsal stress reaction (stress fracture almost in my 4th toe). 
metatarsal-stress-fracture
Image from AAOS

My doctor said it's a stress fracture from what he sees on the MRI despite there not being a ton of pain. It hurts more when he presses on it than the next toe but not a ton and way less than there was initially.  Honestly the tendinosis is bothering me on the bottom/side outer edge of my foot more lately.  As a future clinician the science of it all and looking at my MRI was pretty cool. Minus the fact that it was MY foot. 

The doctor think it is just an overuse activity from running and marathon training since nothing else seems glaring wrong. Although we're going to get my bone density tested as a precaution (despite not having the Female Athlete Triad), and in a few weeks I'll go to physical therapy and get my gait analyzed to see if it's something bio-mechanical in how I'm running as well as re-strengthen my foot. I just had my calcium and Vitamin D levels tested with Insidetracker, and both were in the normal range (which I tried hard to make sound legit when I explained to my doctor, haha).  

I got the MRI results on Thursday and pretty much spent all weekend watching Netflix and having a pity party party for myself. There was a lot of sobbing, beers, and some ice cream. Plus reading every Google search results on metatarsal stress fractures and running, of course. 

It just sucks because medical issues cost lots of money and time which I am happy to do to be healthy but still I'm a poor graduate student. Also I LOVE RUNNING, and JUST came off some great races and was finally feeling stronger and faster for the first time in a while. 

Now I feel like I'm going back to square one.

I went to a yoga class (that was actually great) last Tuesday and haven't worked out since. 

For now I'm in the Aircast boot for 3 weeks all the time except sleeping, until I go see my Dr. again and get re-evaluated with some X-Rays to see how its healing. He said for now pretty much just rest unless I can get in a pool and go swimming.  

Feelings About It All
Honestly I go back and forth between being fine and accepting my body-mandated rest period, and then just crying and freaking out. I'm actually really bummed that I can't run the Philadelphia Marathon anymore, but clearly it wasn't meant to be this year.  

Despite this I have a lot of gratitude. It's sucky but hey this all happened after training for the Chicago Marathon and then running a big PR and BQ and amazing race. I'm assuming since it's November it should get colder and take a couple months off from running at the holidays to rest won't be so badly. Lastly (and only second importantly to already getting the PR/BQ), is that I am lucky enough to still have healthcare through my job even though working full-time ish hours during full-time grad school sucks. That means I have a Hopkins sports medicine orthopedist to work with through all this which is awesome. He thinks I should be back to my running self in January/February which is great to hear.

Now I'm that runner who is on #injurydeck and can't run. Bring on the Netflix marathons and stay tuned!

So anyone ever had a stress fracture? How do you stay sane during injuries?

20 comments:

  1. Oh love I'm so sorry to hear that!! It's a shitty situation. But it sounds like you did the right thing getting it seen to and throwing a pity party. Sometimes you have to do all you can but still take a moment to feel sorry for yourself. I really hope it heals quickly, I know how awful it is not to be able to run!

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    1. Thanks so much. I'm trying to stay optimistic!

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  2. I am so sorry to hear this- but at least you got a diagnosis relatively quickly. I could imagine that alot of people would have trusted the x-ray and kept running through the pain, not really knowing what was wrong. At least you know the timeline for recovery...and its better to deal with this in the winter than another time of year, right? You deserve some time off anyway after your big race!

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    1. I know, I didn't really want to mess around because I've never had foot pain.

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  3. I'm so sorry to hear this! I've had a couple stress fractures in my feet--and it sucks being off the road. Will you be able to cross train? I bought my road bike while I was in the boot with the first stress fracture and fell in love with cycling. It was the best thing for my runner's soul/sole.

    Hope you feel better soon.

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    1. Right now I could swim but decided to just rest for 3 weeks. Hoping I can add cycling in if my next XRay looks better!

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  4. I've been there. 4th metatarsal last year and now tendonitis/bone bruise/mysterious injury (four months off!). I'm so sorry and I know it sucks. If it was going to happen, I'm very glad it happened after the incredible season you had! I wasn't allowed to do any cardio for the first injury so I did a lot of upper body weights. Sending you healing vibes <3

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    1. I know-if anyone understands it is you!

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  5. I've fractured both of my 5th metatarsals in the past year (both from rolling my ankle while walking, not stress fractures.) It sucks. I'm glad your doctor seems proactive in ordering an MRI and bone density scan. It took me a while to get the bone density scan (just had it done yesterday) since I'm still in my 20s.

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    1. I'm glad he is proactive. My bone density scan came back normal so that's good. Toes are so small but such a pain if you hurt them!

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  6. I am so bummed to hear this. I've never had a stress fracture but I've been injured enough times to know that it's the worst feeling in the world. I hope it recovers quickly but you're absolutely right- it couldn't have come at a better time. Winter is a good time to be resting and enjoying the holiday season. If you heal quickly, I still think you should come run the half or full at Martha's Vineyard! It's going to be a giant NP party!

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    1. SO BUMMED. It could have happened before Chicago which would be worst. If I'm healthy and running like normal, I want to run that half!

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  7. i had a 4th metatarsal stress fracture 2 years ago. i was in the boot for 8 weeks because i was stupid and actually broke the bone because i kept running through the pain. the thing that kept me sane was aqua jogging. you can actually get a great workout in and shoot your HR up pretty high. congrats on your bq and rest up and come back stronger!

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    1. I'm glad that it's not completely fractured. Thanks-I'm hoping to be cleared to at least cycle soon and get my sweat on!

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  8. Obvs here for you, as a coach and a friend. Shit happens, but we will get you back! Xoxox

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  9. oh, boo!!! that stinks. I've only had one running injury in my life, which came after 20 years of running so I consider myself lucky. All the while, it is a downer but it sounds like you've got a good attitude about it. Rest up!

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    1. You are lucky! I am trying to stay positive!

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  10. Oh NO! I'm so sorry to hear this. Having just had a brush with a possible stress reaction in my right foot (happened immediately after I finished Chicago - like literally began to feel pain as soon as I got up to walk over to the post-race party after I sat down after retrieving my gear) and also having to bail on a race as a result (no Rock 'n' Roll Half for me in Vegas this weekend :( ), so I definitely understand what you're going through. I'm finally getting out of the boot, which has been nice (though it was quite cozy in there, and I kind of liked that! Haha.) Wishing you a very speedy and full recovery!

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    1. Ugh I wanted to do Vegas too but obviously was definitely off the table after this. Hopefully I'm out of the boot soon. Resting completely hasn't been too bad.

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