Tuesday evening, I was watching TV with the boyfriend and my knee started to ache. By the time bed time rolled around I couldn’t easily bend or unbend my left leg. I was completely confused because I hadn’t been to the gym since Sunday. Why was this suddenly hurting so badly? I ended up going into the living room and trying to sleep in the recliner so I didn’t keep BF up all night. I didn’t get any sleep, but at least he did.
Wednesday morning I was feeling pretty awful. I actually cried walking down the stairs at the Metro. As soon as I got to work I called my mom, an orthopedic nurse in Pennsylvania, and begged for some advice. She suggested going and getting it checked out. She reminded me that it’s always a good idea to get in as an existing patient with a specialist so in the event of an emergency I can have a good relationship with a doctor. My mom is smart.
So began my quest to find an orthopedist. Not to digress into a “what is wrong with health care in America” post, but this was an eye opener. I have good insurance and can see pretty much any doctor in the DC/VA/MD area. I called 10 orthopedists, many of which were affiliated with major hospital centers (I’m looking at you GWU Hospital) and the earliest appointment I could find was February 15th, almost 2 full weeks away. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I was actually scolded by two offices and told “This isn’t an urgent care facility. If you’re in pain maybe you should go to the Emergency Room.” Really? This is why Emergency Rooms are overcrowded disasters. Thankfully, Emily at Daily Garnish had visited a great orthopedist in Northern VA and gave me their contact info. And even more thankfully they were able to squeeze me in at 2 pm.
After a few x-rays to make sure there was nothing chipped or broken in my knee, I was quickly diagnosed with IT Band Syndrome. Bummer, but thankfully very treatable.
People who suddenly increase their level of activity, such as runners who increase their mileage, often develop iliotibial band syndrome. Others who are prone to ITBS include individuals with mechanical problems of their gait such as people who overpronate (source). I fall into both of these categories and have definitely learned a very valuable lesson about over training. As I mentioned in my last post, I covered way more miles in January than I have ever before while not cross training as much as I wanted to. While I’m still proud of powering through all of those miles, I really did set myself up for this injury. Actually, my doctor was shocked that I didn’t feel any pain prior to Tuesday. Apparently my tendon was so inflamed that he thought I’d been hobbling around for weeks.
Whats happening now: Yesterday I received a cortisone shot in my knee (since the tendon was extra-inflamed the good doctor decided to hop right in with the shot, even though it’s typically a second appointment treatment) that was extremely helpful (albeit extremely painful) and some prescription anti-inflammatory pills. I’m not allowed to exercise at all until Sunday, which is the Super Bowl so I’ll take an extra day off. Next week, I’m going to start incorporating a whole bunch of IT band stretches into my daily routine along with some light cycling (sadly no spin class, I’ll be the person hanging out on the recumbent bikes reading a book) and that’s it. No running for 10-14 days. Last night, I was pretty “woe is me about this”, because I had big plans for a Valentine’s Day 5K PR with the boyfriend. While the race is 11 days into 10-14 day run ban, I could probably jog/walk the 5K, but I’m not really sure if I want to, though BF said he’d walk the whole thing with me if I decide to participate (awwww). I have a lot of races planned for the spring and I really don’t want to miss out of any of them because I didn’t give this time to fully calm down. 10-14 days off from running is a pretty light sentence for ITBS, I need to be very thankful for that. I promised the doctor I’d use common sense in deciding when to get back out and I should make good on it.
Have you ever experienced ITBS or another running related injury? How did you pass the time while you weren’t allowed to run?