Monday, May 28, 2012

What is wrong with me?!

I went off the grid this last weekend, because I really wanted to enjoy a couple of days to myself. Mr. Healthy Diva was going to be out of town so I figured that it was a good opportunity for me to take a deep breath and slooooow down. I will write more about my weekend later, but just wanted to let you know that I might have an accurate diagnosis of what my ailment has been for the last 6 months. My new physician (THIRD ONE!) seems to think I have what is called "compartment syndrome". This physician has a fellowship in sports medicine so I am trusting that he knows his stuff. :-)


So, what is compartment syndrome? 
It is a serious condition that involves increased pressure in a muscle compartment. It can lead to muscle and nerve damage and problems with blood flow.

Thick layers of tissue separate groups of muscles in the arms and legs from each other. Inside each layer is a space called a compartment. The compartment includes the muscle tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. 
Any swelling in a compartment will lead to increased pressure in that area, which will press on the muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. If this pressure is high enough, blood flow to the compartment will be blocked. This can lead to permanent injury to the muscle and nerves. 
Long-term chronic compartment syndrome can be caused by repetitive activities, such as running. The pressure in a compartment only increases during that activity.

The compartment I am having problems with is my shin/calf (lower leg) which is the most common area. If the problem isn't treated it can lead to the muscles dying and having to have your limb amputated. EEEEEK.


I will need to schedule to have a test done within the next week that will determine if this is an accurate diagnosis. My physician will insert needles into the affected area (OUCH!) and read the pressure in the compartment. Then I will run on the treadmill until I start experiencing my symptoms (foot drop, numb foot, pain in my lower leg). At that point he will re-insert the needles and read the pressure again. 

If the diagnosis is confirmed to be compartment syndrome there are several treatment options. Mostly this will involve rest and extensive physical therapy. If it is diagnosed to be a more severe case then I will have to have surgery to relieve the pressure in my leg. 

My physician seems to think I will recover from this quickly once we know what we are dealing with. At first he told me ZERO running, spin or elliptical until I have the test. I was freaking out about that. Then once he saw that my x- rays were good he said I could run every other day for a couple of easy miles and I could spin and use the elliptical to my little heart's content. Unfortunately I haven't been able to schedule the test because he has to order the needles. LOVELY.

I am feeling pretty confident that I am finally (after 6 long months) on the road to healing and getting back on track. I am pretty upset with myself for letting this pain go on for so long. Seriously, you would think a numb foot would make me stop running, but apparently I am too dumb to realize that. My physician told me that I had dug myself into a really deep hole and that if I didn't listen to him now a fall marathon and even Boston would be completely out of the question. I think he got my attention with that comment!

So the last couple of days I have been cross training like a crazy lady. I tried to run 2-3 easy miles on Friday and  it didn't go so well. I ended up in tears and cried for more then half of the 2 miles I was able to complete. It was a struggle to maintain 9:00 min miles and I felt defeated when I got back to my house. Today I was able to run 3 miles in an 8:21 pace. It wasn't pretty and it hurt, but I finished. 

My goal is to train for the St. George Marathon in October, but if that doesn't happen it doesn't. I will be fin with a decision to not run if it comes to that because really Boston is the "big picture" for me. My coach has been wonderful and tremendously supportive. Luckily, my new physician and my coach know each other so I feel like it will be a good team effort between the 3 of us to get me back to where I was 6 months ago. 


Questions for you:
Have you ever had compartment syndrome? What did your treatment plan involve?

--Tasha

32 comments:

  1. ughh Tasha I'm so sorry, I hope they figure this out and get you on the road to recovery. Even more so I know you needed your girls night last night. Try not to let it get you down. I know it's frustrating right now, but hopefully you'll get on a good plan and you'll be feeling healthy soon enough. Sending you hugs!

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    1. Thanks Megan! These last 6 months have not been good. I never, ever, ever should have run the Eugene Marathon. I don't even know what I was thinking?! I am just glad that my physician seems to think my recovery time will be fairly quick and that a fall marathon shouldn't be out of the question. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed. If not I will survive, but I will be disappointed.

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  2. Tasha, it sounds like you might find some answers soon! I hope that you do! It sounds like you found a great doctor as well! Best of luck!

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    1. Thanks Becky- I have to get better for Ragnar. That is the priority right now. Van #1 is going to be rocking it!

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  3. So sorry you are going through this! It sounds like the test will give you some answers. Good luck with the test and the treatment to follow. Hopefully you will be able to do the non-surgical option.

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    1. Thanks Beth! I really highly doubt I will have to have surgery. At least my physician didn't think so, but the test will provide those answers. I just hope that I can have the test done this week so I will know. I don't like not knowing. UGH!

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  4. Yikes! There should be an ER or something in the area with the needles I would think. Our hospital's ER does anyway and we borrow them in the operating room occasionally. Hopefully you get a definitive answer on this soon and you can GET BETTER!

    Why is it so hard to listen to our bodies sometimes? I know personally I hate to admit I am invincible and could be injured. Sadly not the case

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    1. Christy he has to use a special needled that hooks up to his pressure gauge. He ran out and had to order more. I was hoping to have the test done this week, but now it looks like next week. UGH!

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  5. Goodness gracious, I am so sorry that this is going down! I know that I would be going crazy even if I'm not a runner! I know that it may be hard at times, but maybe you could try and resting your leg. I know that sometimes I am similar in a way where I like to be busy and I subconciously feel like giving into physical pain is a sign of weakness, but sometimes I have to sit back and think whether or not I want to injure myself further or let it heal and be better than ever. I hope everything gets better for you soon! I'll have you in my thoughts <3

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    1. It is such a bummer when I have been working so hard, but I am trying to embrace this "resting" period. Hopefully by actually not over doing it, I will be back quick. :-)

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  6. I definitely learned about compartment syndrome in medical school. I think Kara Goucher had it (and the scars to prove it to as I think she had to have surgery for it). Hoping you get answers and treatment soon. And, yes, compartment syndrome is not one to mess with!

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    1. Kara did have it in both legs. Ouch. I can't imagine both legs! I am hobbling around like an 80 yr old and I only have 1 leg with it. :-(

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  7. Bless your heart! I am so glad that things seem to be on the right track to getting you well. :) I have never heard of compartment syndrome.... It's crazy that something like that can cause so much pain!

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  8. Oh my gosh :( I'm so sorry to hear you're having such dramas with this. I hope if nothing else you at least get some answers soon and hopefully some non-invasive ways of helping too!

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    1. I would rather have non invasive ways of getting better too! EEEK.

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  9. I’m so happy to hear that you found the source of your pain!! While it is frustrating, don’t let the tough runs get you down… try to find one good thing to focus on each run that you felt you did really well and think about that – it will help!

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    1. Thanks Lora. I am really trying to embrace xtraining right now even though I am dying to go outside for a run since the weather is so nice. I am just thankful it is getting taken care of now when I don't have any major races coming up this summer.

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  10. I have never heard of compartment syndrome, but good thing you have a possible reason for the pain! Isn't it so frustrating!? And I love your outlook about the potential of not running the marathon!

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    1. It is very frustrating! I had never heard of compartment syndrome before either, but it literally fits all of the symptoms I have been experiencing since December. Crazy!

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  11. Blerg to compartment syndrome! BUT, I'm so relieved to hear that you're on the road to diagnosis, and hopefully shortly after that recovery.

    As sucky as it is to find out bad news, avoiding it is worse in the long run. Easier said than felt, but it's true. As a fellow (recovering-from-injury) runner it always feels like the diagnosis it the worst part up front, but if you focus on your plan to recovery, following dr's orders, and taking small baby steps in the right direction I'm sure you'll feel like a more productive runner soon.

    Thinking if you and your recovery. And if you need a laugh, this is my favorite running injury blog post ever: http://www.shutupandrun.net/2012/04/10-ways-to-survive-your-injury-without.html

    :-)

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    1. That cracked me up! Thanks for sharing! :D

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  12. wow, that sounds really scary to be going through. I hope it is not too serious, and with a little rest and PT you are right back to where you want to be!

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    1. That is what I am keeping my fingers & toes crossed for :)

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  13. I'm glad your doctor and coach know each other and can work together to getting you back up and running(pun intended) :) it sucks you have to go through all this but its a good lesson for us all, especially the ones like me who run through pain, to listen to your body and when something is not right to stop and have it checked out so we can prevent further injury. I'll be praying for a speedy recovery for you :)

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    1. Thanks Kris! It was so hard to watch everyone run in CDA on Sunday. It was driving me NUTS!!!!!

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  14. I am so so SO sorry although I am happy that you might finally have some answers. Although I've heard of compartment syndrome before you are actually the first person I've ever heard of actually having it, so sorry I'm no help. I'm thinking of good healing thoughts!!

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  15. I am sorry to hear. I hope the diagnose is accurate this time around so they can treat it and you can continue running at your regular pace and pain free. Aghghgh!

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    1. I know...all I want is a nice long & pain free run. Is that too much to ask?! :-)

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  16. Oh, Tasha, I'm so sorry! I've never had comp. sydrome, but did have a possible stress fracture last summer in my shin and took 10 weeks off running- my longest break ever! It was tough initially, but like you, I did lots of cross training- especially spinning, and I came out of it without losing too much fitness. It's so hard to deal with, though. And runners are so good at pushing through the pain, that we can easily ignore symptoms along the way. It's hard to know when it's actually serious enough to get checked out! I'm glad you're in the process now- sounds like there's plenty of time to get you back on track for Boston!

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    1. I love spinning so I have been doing that a lot. Technically I haven't really ran since Eugene on April 29th. It looks like I might be off at least 10 or more weeks too! It won't be the longest I have had to take off, but it is still lame. I need to learn how to stop running when something hurts. Runners really are the worst patients because we don't have patience. :D

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