I thought it was time I shared an update on my injury, as last time I blogged I had just undergone an MRI scan.
I went back to the hospital the following day to get the news I had been dreading. The scan had showed up a stress fracture at the neck of the femur (the long thigh bone). The white fuzzy area on the scan shows where the fracture is. The thing which looks like nuclear explosion is my bladder… I must have been really busting for a wee.
What is a stress fracture?
Stress fractures are tiny cracks in a bone which have developed over time due to repetitive force, usually from high-impact activities such as running.
What causes stress fractures?
Stress fractures can be caused by overtraining, poor biomechanics, weak muscles or poor bone health. Women who have abnormal or absent periods are more at risk of stress fractures.
Emotions really hit me when I found out the diagnosis. I felt that it tallied up with my fears that I’ve weakened by bones through prolonged use of Depo Provera contraceptive. The doctor couldn’t confirm that this was the case, but I felt convinced that this was a huge factor. I cried on the tube on the way home, blaming myself for letting this happen.
I was referred to a Sports Physician for further insight into my diagnosis and treatment. Dr Cath Spencer-Smith was absolutely lovely, as a fellow triathlete I could tell that she really cared about getting me back up and running as soon as possible.
Dr Cath referred me for blood tests to check my Ferritin and Vitamin D levels, both of which contribute to good bone health. The tests both came back within the normal range, but she has asked me to top up my Vitamin D with a daily DLux Oral Spray. I’ve also been referred for a DEXA scan to check my bone density and find out if I do indeed have weaker bones. I’m seriously having ALL the scans at the moment.
Rest is the most important treatment for stress fractures. Since mid-August I’ve not run at all with my focus being on low-impact exercise including cycling and swimming. In hindsight, I should have really been on crutches when I first became injured. It’s been 15 weeks and 3 days since my last run (not that I’m counting) and thankfully the fracture is almost completely healed now.
Dr Cath liaised with my physio Gary to devise my strength training programme. The focus is on continuing to strengthen the muscles surrounding my hip. My strength has greatly improved since I began my daily exercises in the summer, but now I’ve been given some additional work to do. If all goes to plan, I should be able to start run/walk rehab in January.
Why did I get a stress fracture?
Ultimately my muscles surrounding my femur were not strong enough and the bone took the impact from my running. Despite strength training with a PT throughout this year, I had some bad lifestyle habits including sitting with my legs crossed and sleeping with my leg folded under me. Sounds uncomfortable, right? My physio believes these habits weakened my glutes, adductors and abductors. The jury is still out on whether the Depo Provera is a factor, but I will know more later this month.
I guess I am lucky that this injury has healed on it’s own in time- at least I won’t need surgery. I’m desperate to get back to running, it’s been so long I’ve almost forgotten what it feels like to run. It will take some time to get my fitness back, but I’m wary of rushing into it too soon.
Have you ever had a stress fracture or another injury? How much time off from running did you have?