I might have a stress fracture? Help? (Read 192 times)


    Hi! Basically I wanted to know if this sounded like a stress fracture. I was at the doctors yesterday, and he told me that I do likely have a stress fracture, and I'm scheduled for an MRI next Thursday. 

    So I'll start off by saying I'm a 19 year old female marathon runner...I've done 2 fulls, and several halfs. I did the Goofy Challenge in WDW in January, which was my 2nd marathon... I took a couple weeks off running, then jumped right into training for my next marathon, which was supposed to be in May. But I am not doing it anymore because of shin pain. 

    It started off when I forgot my "good" running shoes at home (I'm at college), and had to run in an old pair of shoes that are minimal stability (I'm used to very defined orthotics). I had shin pain all week running in these shoes but I decided to push through it because I thought I was just being too much of a wimp. Then that weekend, I came home to get my "good" shoes (i had been wearing the old ones for about a week and a half), and that Friday night I did a 16 mile marathon training run in my good shoes. My shins were sore, but I knew they were going to be, and I knew it wasn't going to be any easier to complete the long run on Sunday morning verses Friday evening. After that, I took about 2 weeks off running due to ongoing shin soreness. I ran the other day (just 2 miles) and it wasn't painful as much as it was uncomfortable. Then the day after that, I did 5 miles on the track. 

    When I run, it's uncomfortable, but not that painful. The pain eventually subsides and my leg and foot goes almost numb. After I run, it's more pain. And the top of my foot and lower shin gets NUMB and loses feeling. As well as a tingly feeling with a pulse/heart beat. One part of my shin is sore to touch, but not excruciating pain. Just uncomfortable pain. And the skin is slightly red. And there's a bump on my shin where it hurts. 

    Is this common with stress fractures? Does this sound like a "Normal" tibial stress fracture even though I'm not in tons of pain?

      My bet is that it's not a stress fracture...yet.  But it seems that you're doing pretty much everything wrong and, if you keep it up, it won't be long before you actually get one...or more.  What is the fascination to run so many marathons and halves at such a young age when you're not even ready to absorb enough training to be adequately prepared?  My STRONG suggestion is to be wimp rather than stupid especially if you actually like running and would like to continue running in the next decades or so.


      Don't read too much--especially marathon training books and/or message board--to get some wrong idea and chase some bogus numbers.  Leave Garmin or even a watch home and just get out and run as you feel.  And remember two of the most important Golden Rules: (1) little often is better than one big effort and take several days off; and (2) if in doubt, do less.  Always train to the point where you feel you could have done a little more, or a little faster, if you wanted to.  Leave competitive juice for the actual competition, not on the training route.


      Running CAN be a life-long activity if you play your card right.  Don't make it a "fad" that you pass through a year or two in your life's journey.

        Compartment syndrome is the other most likely cause, perhaps brought on by the extra work that your lower leg muscles were having to do when you ran without your orthotics.  It is possible that an MRI will offer a differential diagnosis.  Regardless, it is important that you cease running until you have a diagnosis.


        When you return to running, think about what Nobby has said about your running goals, especially in the context that he is a very highly regarded coach and cofounder of the Lydiard foundation.  A 19 year old college student should not be worried about training for the next marathon.  Running for you should be a welcome break from studying, an easy few miles every day to get away from it all.  It is a good habit to have, especially after you graduate.

          MRI will tell the tale.  I definitely understand the desire to know the answer sooner than later, but just chill and wait for the technology to tell you what's going on.  Then you can proceed with more information.


          @Nobby, take it a little easy, dude; she's only 19.  OTOH, I am geezerly, so you can feel free to tell me to be a wimp instead of stupid.  Smile

          - Joe

          We are fragile creatures on collision with our judgment day.


          Connoisseur of Cookies

            You've seen your doc who was able to obtain a history and do a physical exam on you.  You're reporting that he thinks it could be a stress fracture and has scheduled follow up testing to help confirm his thoughts.  Please don't take this the wrong way, but why are you looking to anonymous people on an internet discussion forum, people who can neither see you or assess your leg, and asking them to confirm or refute the diagnosis of the guy who spent at least 7-8 years in training to identify these things?


            What you're describing could be several things.  Yes, a stress fracture is one of the possibilities.  Take a break from running.  Let yourself start to heal.  Do the MRI and see what it shows.


            Injuries are frustrating.  Trying to convince yourself that you're not really injured, though, generally doesn't bode well in the long run.



            "C" is for cookie.  That's good enough for me.


            Proboscis Colossus

              Agreed, no need to call her stupid or a wimp.  She's just young and enthusiastic. Smile


              Megan, the advice here is sound.  You've got, God willing, plenty of marathon cycles ahead of you, try not to get too upset or anxious if you have to let this one go.  Take it from a guy who has trouble laying off unless the bone is actually poking through the skin, even if it is a stress fracture, much better to take a few weeks off now, heal up, and go forward wiser than to push it and deal with chronic pain for the rest of your running career.

              "God guides us on our journey, but careful with those feet." - David Lee Roth, of all people

                My wife is in her upper 30s, and has had a neuroma ("Morton's Neuroma") in her 4th meta-tarsal on her right foot for about 2 years.  She's received steroid injections as well as orthotics for her shoes to minimize the pain of the neuroma.  In essence, her foot goes numb frequently when she wears shoes.  (I don't think that the numbness you speak about is similar to the numbness my wife complained about).


                She's been running a few miles per week for years and has learned to deal with discomfort and pain related to this as well as other joint issues (Rheumatoid Arthritis).  She's told me that with her conditions, she'll always have some degree of pain, and if she wants to be active throughout her life, she needs to learn how to workout regardless of the pain.


                A couple weeks ago, she went running, and when she returned, she had sharp pain under her 4th meta-tarsal, and knew immediately that something was different and wrong.  She went to her orthopedic doctor, and had an exam, x-rays, and also an MRI.  To her orthopedist's surprise, she does have a stress fracture.  Also, she's now going to the another orthopedic doctor who specializes in neuroma's, and will likely have surgery to remove it over the next few weeks.


                (Apparently, her running gait changed slightly due to the neuroma, which caused the stress fracture???...)


                For what it's worth, over the last week and a half, she's gotten back into the pool to swim a couple of times (she doesn't push off the wall, and uses a pull buoy to prevent kicking), and has also done 2 or 3 hours of on the indoor bike trainer at low intensity  to keep herself active.

                2017 Goals:

                #1: Do what I can do (200+ training days, 200+ aerobic hours). 

                #2: Race shape (1/2 marathon, 2 half Ironmans, marathon)

                #3: Prepare for 2018

                  It is even worse, the original poster sought a second opinion on LetsRun.  http://www.letsrun.com/forum/flat_read.php?thread=5099488


                  Sarcasm aside, Megan, I hope you get it sorted, whatever the problem might be.


                  Please don't take this the wrong way, but why are you looking to anonymous people on an internet discussion forum, people who can neither see you or assess your leg, and asking them to confirm or refute the diagnosis of the guy who spent at least 7-8 years in training to identify these things?



                    I appreciate the feedback, everyone.