Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Chronicles of Recovering from a Femoral Neck Stress Fracture (an ongoing entry)

Updated 6/30/16

When I first Googled Femoral Neck Stress Fracture, most of what I got was doom and gloom.  People who were on crutches for 6 months and still not healed... people who were still unable to run a year after the injury... needless to say, I freaked out a bit.  Fortunately I have two friends who had the exact same injury and were able to tell me about their not-quite-so-dramatic experiences.  This blog was also very helpful, as it chronicles in detail the recovery of a runner, but her injury was less severe (a stress reaction versus a stress fracture). 

What this is, is my own personal recovery timeline.  I hope that by sharing this that others with the same injury might benefit from reading about my own journey, should they turn to Google for similar stories.  I of course am not a medical professional!  This is just my personal story, and what you take away from it is up to you.  

I plan on adding to this entry with updates, workouts, etc.

4/2--Second and final 20 miler of the training cycle!  So excited to get through it.  Zero pain during run... but groin felt sore after.  What the what?  I've never had upper leg/hip pain before.  Lots of ice and gentle stretching today and the next day (yoga class as well), but nothing really was helping.

4/4--Easy 4 miler... no pain till after the run ended, then it wasn't pretty.

4/5--A very sore groin muscle led me to call my sports med doctor for an appointment.  Had to see a colleague.  His diagnosis was what I expected: hip flexor strain.  He recommended rest.

4/6--Saw my chiropractor, who agreed with the doctor.  

4/7--Easy 4 miles HURT.  Met up with a good PT friend who felt it was NOT a hip flexor issue, but rather a joint impingement issue.  Given exercises to do.  She recommended a week of rest as well.

4/8--Saw my regular sports med doctor.  She agreed with the diagnosis of hip flexor strain and said a week off should do the trick.  

4/13--Easy 4 miles for my return to running (after 6 days of zero physical activity).  Felt off and not wonderful at all for the first 3 miles.  Good for the final mile, but pain as soon as I stopped running.

4/16--my last true run.  I ran with my marathon training buddies, and we did 6 miles.  Here is my daily mile post from that run: "It wasn't how I wanted it to be... but I was so grateful to run these miles with my girls. Hip was tight for mile 1, and anytime we stopped (e.g. crosswalks) it would hurt to start back up for the first 50 yards or so. I played with the pace to see what felt best. Miles were 8:56, 8:24, 8:30, 8:35, 8:47, 8:51. I felt best at the 8:24-8:35 pace, which gives me some hope. Post-run I'm very tight. I am getting a massage tomorrow night and I have great faith in both my massage therapist and chiro, that between the two of them I'll be running a marathon in 7 days!"   And I really felt that this would be true... that I would be able to run in my marathon.  

4/18--Running trial.  After two days of being very sore, I felt quite a bit better on Monday morning and decided to try a run with Tamara.  An easy 3-4 miles turned into 0.24 miles that ended in tears.  The pain was awful... I could barely walk, let alone run.  It was that day that I realized that the marathon would not be happening, and it was definitely a difficult day for me.

4/20--official diagnosis (via MRI) of a femoral neck stress fracture.  My doctor actually called me to let me know that I indeed wouldn't be racing that weekend.  It's never a good thing to hear your doctor's voice on the phone.  She said that I would be on crutches for up to 6 weeks, but Dr. Google told me that it likely would be longer before I was able to bear weight on my left leg.  I honestly felt relief, to finally know that there was indeed *something* wrong with me, more than just a hip flexor strain like all the doctors had been saying.  It gave some validity to my pain, knowing I actually did have a stress fracture, and that running the marathon wasn't only unwise, that it was not allowed. 

4/20-5/4--For these 2 weeks, I was totally non-weight bearing (NWB).  I used my crutches 100% of the time when I was out of the house, including when I was at work.  I will admit, I did some limping around at home.  It was almost impossible to do everything that I needed to do while on crutches--making dinner was the most difficult task, for sure. 

5/4--I saw Dr. Dick for a two-week follow-up visit.  The appointment went well, and I was given permission to start "partial weight-bearing." 

5/5-5/11--Partial weight-bearing.  I began with toe-tapping for a couple of days, then started putting more and more weight on my injured leg (still using both crutches of course).  

5/12-5/18--I started using one crutch for a part of each day.  I actually had to Google "how to walk with one crutch", as I had no clue!  Fortunately, it is a very natural movement for me, and within a few days I was almost as fast with one crutch as I was when I walked pre-injury.  The best part: I had one free hand, so I could actually carry things again!  I increased the amount of time that I used just one crutch (versus two) as the week went on, so that by 5/18 I was only using one crutch for the majority of the day.

5/18--I saw Dr. Dick for a four-week follow-up visit.  Things were still looking great, and I got permission to start weaning off the crutch.  I started using only one crutch 100% of the time on 5/19.

5/19-5/24--Each day, I used my crutch less and less.  Some days I'd be a bit achier than others, so I would just use the crutch a bit more on those days.  

5/25--my first day of 100% walking without the crutch!  I wasn't at school (professional development day = sitting around listening to others talk), which was ideal for my first crutch-less day.  I overdid it a bit over Memorial Day weekend (5/28-5/30) for sure... I swam at Alum Creek twice (1.5 miles and .75 miles) and did my first true "recovery walk" of 1.6 miles with a neighbor friend.  By Monday evening I was achy and realized I needed to take things a bit slower.  Fortunately a couple of days off did the trick, and I was as good as new! 

At this point (6/6/16), I am working to slowly build up my strength and endurance again with walking, swimming, and very easy cycling (learning how to ride clipped in!).  Below is a list of the workouts that I have done since beginning my recovery (going all the way back to my first swim workout in early May):

6/8/16--I saw Dr. Dick for a seven-week follow-up visit.  Another great appointment.  Dr. Dick had me do the "hop test", which I was pretty nervous about.  I was able to successfully hop without pain on my injured leg, which is pretty phenomenal!  Going back in two more weeks and barring any unforeseen circumstances, we will be discussing my return to running!

6/22/16--My final appointment with Dr. Dick!  Things look great and I'm officially "released" from her care, at least for this injury.  She wrote a script for me to have a gait analysis done at OSU Sports Med Endurance Clinic. I am super-psyched for this analysis!  For my return to running plan, I am following this plan, which I found and decided on after a lot of Googling.  I will chronicle the workouts with this plan below as well (separate heading from the walks I've been doing).  

Walking workouts:
5/29--1.24 miles (19 minutes) @15:17/mile
6/2--1.63 miles (30 minutes) @ 18:00/mile
6/3--2.32 miles (36 minutes) @ 15:39/mile
6/4--3.1 miles (49 minutes) @ 15:50/mile **note: right foot got numb after about 30 minutes
6/6--4 miles (64 minutes) @ 15:34/mile **note: right food numbness again... wtf???
6/7--2.45 miles (34 minutes) @ 14:07/mile
6/9--3.00 miles (44:48) @ 14:57/mile
6/12--3.06 miles (41:12) @ 13:28/mile **BOTH feet numb after about 30 min.

6/13--3.17 miles (45:40) @ 14:25/mile **right foot numb after 30 min.
6/15--3.1 miles (45:00) @ 14:31/mile
6/19--1 mile (13:48) @ 13:48/mile **after a bike as part of a "brick"

6/20--4 miles (57:08) @ 14:17/mile
6/23--2.8 miles (40:00) @ 14:17/mile

(continued below with return to running workouts)
Swimming workouts:
5/4--1200 yards pulling
5/9--2000 yards pulling
5/14--2000 yards (pulling with some drills and very easy swimming mixed in at the end)
5/18--1500 yards swimming (very very easy)
5/28--OWS (1.5 miles)
5/30--OWS (.75 miles--1:36/100)
6/4--OWS (.73 miles--1:36/100)
6/8--OWS (.73 miles--1:36/100)
6/16--OWS (.99 miles--1:44/100)
6/18--OWS (1.45 miles--1:32/100)
6/22--OSW (.72 miles--1:35/100)
6/25--OWS (race) (2.44 miles--1:31/100)
6/30--OWS (.98 miles--1:32/100)

Cycling workouts:

6/3--5.02 miles (12.6 mph)
6/5--8.88 miles (12.4 mph)
6/11--11.91 miles (15.7 mph)
6/12--20.46 miles (14.9 mph)
6/15--13.22 miles (16.2 mph)
6/16--11.85 miles (16.6 mph)
6/18--29.79 miles (16.0 mph)
6/19--10.25 miles (16.6 mph)
6/21--17.35 miles (15.2 mph)
6/22--11.84 miles (17.1 mph)
6/27--10.28 miles (16.4 mph)
6/30--11.92 miles (16.5 mph)

Return to running workouts (based on this plan):
Phase 1: Walking program (completed prior to 6/22)
Phase 2: Plyometric routine (completed 6/20)
Phase 3: Walk/jog progression
*Stage 1: 5 min walk/1 min jog x 5 (6/23 and 6/27)

*Stage 2: 4 min walk/2 min jog x 5 (6/29)


  1. sounds like you are still able to be active but just in different ways. hope your recovery doesn't take as long as you pictured it taking. thanks for the information about femoral neck stress fracture. hang in there .

    1. Thank you Maureen! I hope that you (or any of my readers!) ever have the need to read this blog due to having a FNSF, but the info is here in the event that someone does.

  2. Thank you for sharing this! These blogs give me some hope. I was injured back in December. I didn't go to the doctor for 5 weeks, so it was 6 weeks after injury that I found out from an MRI that I had a FNSF. I'm almost finished with two weeks totally on crutches, and I'll be starting two weeks of coming off of crutches next week. I'm not even allowed to exercise until March 6. I'm going crazy... I blogged about it here if you're curious of my experience. https://andrewthomasson.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/a-broken-hip/

  3. Really appreciate this. I was diagnosed with a severe femoral stress reaction just recently and am currently 2 weeks on crutches. Ironically enough, our timeline is very much the same. I felt pain on 4/1/18 and am told I'm on crutches for 4 weeks. I couldn't agree more with your full story and it's comforting to know I'm not alone :) May I ask, when you were on week 2 of crutches, did you still feel pretty severe pain? Some days I feel ok, other days (especially when sleeping) I experience shooting pain where I wonder if it is getting worse vs. better. Just curious and thanks again!