Monday, February 2, 2015

Injury Update: Hope in Sight

This hamstring injury of mine has been a long, drawn out process.  The onset of pain was May 2nd and it has never gone away.  I've had better days and worse but the pain has been there for 9 months.  Running, walking, sitting, bending over to put on my shoes.  It's become one of the constants in my life.  

Just as stressful as the pain have been the appointments to try and get a clear diagnosis and proper treatment. First was my family doctor who finally referred me out to an orthopedic.  I had video analysis done with a physical therapist to check for weakness and imbalances.  Then there were the three rounds of physical therapy.  I took three cortisone dose packs.  Other anti-inflammatories.  I tried massage, yoga, and acupuncture.

Somewhere in there I took a 2-week break from running.  I still trained for the Detroit Free Press Marathon, albeit on reduced mileage and speed.  And I ran that damn race, even though it about killed me to do so.  After that I really scaled back, running one last 5k a few weeks later for fun, until I stopped running altogether.  For 12 weeks.

The first day I didn't run I had a meltdown.  It felt like my world was crumbling around me and I burst into tears.  My whole body shook as I grieved the loss of what is so much more than exercise - it's my release, my joy, my freedom, my peace.  I didn't know how I would live without it for an indeterminate amount of time.

Getting through the first week was the hardest but it got easier.  It helped that I could bike.  I rode that damn stationary bike every day, challenging myself to up the resistance and ride more miles (whatever that even means on those things).  

I also started going to Detroit Tough, where Coach Terra helped me gain strength and balance in her Mechanics class.  Thanks to her I can do solid pistol squats, real sit-ups, and a seriously good bird dog.  More importantly, she helped me remember to look at the big picture and got me through the tough days when I missed running the most.  

Coach Terra also taught me to be BOLD.  I never learned to swim as a child so I took 5 lessons and practiced on my own every Sunday morning.  I moved from the kick board to a buoy and flotation belt to finally swimming full laps across the pool with only the aid of fins.  They help my hamstring in a huge way, giving me a stronger kick and allowing me to glide through the water more easily.  I can swim without them but not nearly as well.

After 9 months my orthopedic doctor finally ordered an MRI for me.  It showed small tears in my hamstring, which is consistent with an overuse injury - high hamstring tendinopathy or tendinosis.  Because it is not tendonitis (inflammation), traditional therapies haven't worked for me.  Instead of being a nice smooth tendon, mine is grisled and gnarly.  It isn't getting good blood flow to the area and healing time is very slow.  Because this is been going on for so long, I need to speed up the healing process.  

Tomorrow I am going to have a procedure done called Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP). Basically, the doctor will take my own blood, spin it in a centrifuge, and extract the platelet-rich plasma.  That will then be injected into my hamstring using ultrasound imaging to ensure it goes into just the right spot.  

This is still not exactly a quick fix.  After the procedure I have to rest completely from any activity involving the hamstring (other than walking).  Shut it down.  I'll have a 2-week follow-up and if all looks good I should be able to slowly start up again.  There will be 6-week and 3-month follow-up appointments.  The whole healing process should be complete by the end of 3 months but I'll be able to run before that.  Yes you read that correctly!  Barring any unforeseen circumstances I'll be running again!

To be honest, 2 weeks without any cardio scares the crap out of me.  Although riding that bike day after day got old, it was something.  But when I look back, I never thought I'd make it 2 days without running, let alone 12 weeks and counting.  If I could do that, I can do this too.  It's all about the big picture, which is getting healthy so I can be back out there doing what I love most - running.   

Read previous injury posts here: 


  1. So glad to hear you're on the road and closer to recovery!

  2. Ur coach caused your injury (or u by over-training - why????) and you should be eating meat. Get a new coach who knows what he or she is doing. Nd stop deleting these posts. =)

  3. I ran for two years with a piraformis injury. Every time I ran I asked myself why I didn't just quit....and one day I realized it would have been easier to quit breathing. Running, much like anything that. Makes up who we are, is part of who we are. We are better people, much like a writer who starts each day with pen on paper, or an artist who paints the rising of the sun, we go out into the world happier, richer people, which in turn creates a better, kinder humanity. We also each make our own decisions and risk judgement when we share. I however try to let light guide my voice and I simply say to you: I hope in life you find a passion you can't quit.

    1. Beautifully said, Kacey. You speak for ever runner who does it not for the medals and the PRs but for the pure joy it brings. We don't run. We ARE runners.

  4. Hi Amanda. How are you feeling? Has the PRP given you any relief yet? I was just diagnosed with the same thing, high hamstring tendonosis. I ran on it for several months before stopping on Dec 20 from the pain. My left side is double the size of my right side from all the damage and is pressing against my sciatic nerve. I'll be getting an ultrasound guided injection next week at Henry Ford Hospital. I'll be seeing Dave T. @ Henry Ford Columbus Center in Novi for a new gait analysis/assessment. I miss running and haven't biked either because the pain is so bad. Does swimming aggravate your injury?

    1. Hi Randa,
      I'm sorry you're in such pain! I'm feeling okay. Still in some pain, but getting better. I'd say it's probably about what it was pre-injection. I don't know what that means. I see my doctor on Monday. I saw Dave T. too. He's great! Not running is so hard but not being able to bike must be awful! Unfortunately, swimming wasn't really all that good for me. The kicking DID aggravate my hamstring and sciatic pain. I found using fins helped a lot, though. I was able to move through the water a lot easier with less stress on the hamstrings. I really hope the injection helps you! Which DMC doc is doing your injection?

    2. Sorry you said Henry Ford for the injection! :) I've heard very good things about their sports medicine.

  5. How are you doing, Amanda? I truly hope that you're doing well. I'm sure it was scary to sustain a hamstring injury, especially since you're an active runner. I'm just glad to hear that your injury is showing improvement. Keep us posted for more updates. Take care always! :)

    Modesto Culbertson @ D&Z Law Group

  6. It's hard to think about having to let go of something you're so passionate about. I understand that it was hard to have your abilities reduced by an injury, but if you keep getting continuous treatment, I'm sure you'll feel better in no time. Anyway, I hope you've been faring well these days, Amanda. Thanks for sharing that! Feel better soon!

    Jacqueline Hodges @ Back and Neck Center of Brick