Unlike yesterday when I was feeling, mad and sad and frustrated and jealous and lost, today I am feeling relieved and hopeful and focused (but still a bit sad and mad). Why? I have some answers and a recovery plan. And, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit impatient and Type-A. So even though my recovery plan does not include running, I feel better just knowing that there is (hopefully) an end in sight.
So what’s the verdict? Posterior Tibial Tendonitis. PTT. (Which is different than posterior tibial tendonitis dysfunction – for those of you that google it; PTT is like the first stage – and if left untreated it could progress to PT tendonosis and if that worsens then it can lead to PTT dysfunction. At least that’s what I gathered from hours of research after seeing the doctor).
What caused it? More than likely just funky foot work on the hilly route I was running with friend on Saturday. I hadn’t had any symptoms or pain before then with my left leg. It came out of nowhere. So I probably pushed off funny and aggravated/tweaked/inflammed my tibial tendon. And made it worse because I ran on it for 3 or 4 more hilly miles. (I remember thinking to myself that if I hadn’t been running with others, I would have stopped much sooner – almost right when it happened – and called someone for a ride. But I was with others and didn’t want to be a baby and didn’t want to ruin their long run by making them stop. I did eventually stop at 7.7 miles and let them finish their 15 miles then come back and get me.) I probably also have weakness in the muscles surrounding my tibia.
What was I feeling (what were my symptoms)? At about mile 3 of my hilly run, out of no where, my left leg felt funky right above my ankle. And it continued and started feeling “off” and painful as I continued to run. And then the outside of my left knee started to also feel painful. (apparently the tibial tendon runs the length of the leg and as it begins to hurt at the bottom of the tibia by the ankle, you overcompensate by pronating and running on the outside of that leg, which then aggravates the IT band and so mimics an IT band injury – but isn’t; there is actually a term for this called the “pain duet”.) And my leg felt like it would buckle. I let the girls run ahead of me, telling them I was going to slow. I stopped to stretch. When I would start back up running, it would be worse. I tried running on the shoulder of the road – instead of the blacktop – thinking that would help. It didn’t help, it actually made it worse (apparently uneven surfaces aggravate PTT – so this makes sense in retrospect). The pain has continued since Saturday. It’s better, for sure. But I am not able to walk without pain. I am not able to go up and down stairs without pain. I limp.
What is the doctor having me do? Aggressive icing of the tibia (4 times a day; 15-20 minutes a time). Ibuprofen. NO RUNNING until I see her again (boo hoo). Wearing The Boot during all waking hours until I see her again (to stabilize tibial tendon and prevent from putting stress/pressure on it). Physical Therapy (probably 3 -4 times to learn the exercises that will strengthen and prevent). Come see her (doctor) again when I can walk in The Boot for normal daily activities without experiencing any pain (she said it’s different for every person – could be a week, could be a month) and she will have me phase running back in (YIPEE!). Cross train if I can do it with The Boot on and not have pain during it (which basically leaves nothing for me to do – because I’m not road biking with The Boot because I’d fall on my head and kill myself; I don’t swim; I would go mental on the elliptical – though if I get desparate, I may). Beer, Burgers and Blizzards (actually, the doc didn’t prescribe these, I just added them because I need something to improve my mental health and I think The Three B’s should do the trick).
What have I read/learned on the internet? First – I take all the blog and forum posts with a grain of salt because a huge percentage of the people were self diagnosing and/or seeking opinions from other forum members and not actual doctors. Plus a bunch of them seem like idiots. That being said – the one common thing that I have read and that I believe to be true based upon all that I have learned (in 5 short hours!) about PTT is that this is NOT an injury that you can run through. You really truly need a significant rest period. Followed by a gradual phasing in of running. Everything I read about it confirms that if you do not REALLY rest and take a break from running, it will not heal.
What’s the good news? I think we caught it early enough and I wasn’t stupid enough to just rest a few days on my own then try to run and keep doing this cycle, which makes it worse (and which SO many people I’ve read about on the internet did – and they had this injury for YEARS). I KNEW right away on Saturday that something was not right and that I should not be running. Glad I trusted my gut. I saw a doctor right away. So she says that we can fix this. Yipee! Though I have no illusion that it will be quick. I’m fully expecting it to be a couple months – UGGGGGG – til I can actually run for real.
What’s the other good news? This has been an eye opener for me. All of the reading about running and injuries the last several days has opened my eyes to other things that I am going to work on changing – related to diet, lifestyle and training. But not tonight. Tonight I am celebrating having some answers with a Summit (or two) and an oreo blizzzard – just like the doctor ordered.