2 years and 2 months after my first tibial stress fracture I finally think I have it figured out and am hopefully on a good path towards running again (and being well).
The story in a nutshell: A crazy random fainting episode landed me in the ER, where they ran a series of blood tests to try to figure out why I fainted. None of the tests explained why I fainted. BUT, one of the tests indicated I had an abnormally high level of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and the ER doc said I should check in with my primary care provider at some point. That very day, I googled like crazy and realized that I also had a ton of the symptoms that go with a high level of TSH and indicate a condition called Hypothyroidism. Too many to ignore. Looking back, the symptoms have been present for the past couple years. I ignored them because many of them are non-specific and can be chalked up to other things – like aging, stress and NOT RUNNING! (My symptoms: gall bladder issues or pain, feeling tired, brain fog/memory issues, problems concentrating, irregular periods, joint pain, weight gain, depression, constipation, dry scalp, extreme emotional swings, always being cold). So I scheduled an appointment with my regular doc (who is a general practice doc, but with an emphasis on sports medicine – so she was very familiar with my stress reaction/fracture issue, although she wasn’t the doc that treated that). She did more testing and confirmed that I have hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). It’s managed by thyroid medication taken daily, for life.
Here’s the part that I am most excited about: google had told me, and the doc (who has emphasis in sports medicine) told me that there is definitely a link between my stress fractures and the hormonal imbalance that has resulted from my underactive thyroid. Did it cause the stress fracture? Probably not – it was probably a combination of hormonal imbalance from the underactive thyroid and the imbalances I’ve learned about from PT (weak core and the weak hip), as well as overuse/overtraining. But it definitely contributed to it, and she said that definitely the hormonal imbalance would prevent/slow healing of it. Which explains why my tibial stress fractures/reaction have been virtually the same spot three times over the last 2 years.
So let’s hope those magic little thyroid pills that I’m starting tomorrow do their job and get me back to normal (with running, but also with all the other things which were starting to become really unbearable).
I’m a BIG believer in things happening for a reason, so I truly do feel that my fainting spell happened so that it could lead me to this diagnosis of hypothyroidism. I’ll blog about it more once I’ve been on the thyroid medication (and run) long enough to know for sure. Stay tuned.