Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Um, where's my bone?

If you've been following my saga, you know that I injured my Achilles tendon in February, likely from overuse/calf tightness.

I've tried pretty much everything to make it better: rest, ice, anti-inflammatories, different shoes, stretching, massage, acupuncture, cupping, IASTM, some PT moves.

The frequency has lessened over the past eight months, but I still get a stabbing pain when I run. Since our insurance was changing in October to a lower-deductible plan, I made an appointment with podiatrist Dr. Mah, the guy who did Eryn's foot surgery earlier this year, to have it officially diagnosed and scanned.

Yesterday, Dr. Mah confirmed that I do, as I suspected all along, have insertional tendonitis. So instead of the whole length of my tendon being inflamed and irritated, it's just the part where it attaches to the bone. Supposedly, this kind is extra hard to heal. Hence the eight months with little progress. Yippee.

Wanting to rule out a spur or another growth like the one I had removed from the same heel in high school, we got a couple X-rays:
Looks like a heel to me. BUT... Dr. Mah was stumped. He said I'm missing a considerable amount of bone on the back.

After some discussion of my history, here's what he thinks happened: When I was 16, an orthopedist removed what has been described to me as a "fibrous tissue mass". Mah thinks the doctor also took off a chunk of bone. WHAT?! I had no idea.

On the left is a "normal" heel from the Internet. Compare it to my bone:
Mah said it's supposed to be square, like the one on the left. Not all jagged and funky like mine.

I called Mom, and she also had no idea they'd removed bone! It's been 22 years, but she's going to call the orthopedist's office and see if there's any chance they still have my records.

Funny thing... I have few memories of the surgery and recovery and such. But I distinctly remember waking briefly in the middle of the operation. I was laying on my stomach, and I looked up and saw the anesthesiologist sitting at my head. I had an epidural and was numb from the waist down, but I could feel pounding radiating up into my body. A few seconds later, I was back out.

I mentioned this to my acupuncturist while we chatted during a session. She said, "What in the world were they pounding while removing a tissue mass??" WELL... apparently they were whacking away at my bone!

So Mah said that while my tendon is supposed to attach the whole length of the bone, mine is anchored to a much smaller space, putting all the pressure on one area. No wonder it's irritated. Surgery is possible but not likely to help - and could make it worse.

I got really nervous, thinking he was going to tell me that I must stop running or my little tendon, hanging on by a thread, will explode. BUT... that's not what he said at all!!!!!

I asked several times, just to make sure I was hearing him correctly. Dr. Mah said that as long as I can handle the pain, I can keep running. And the pain level has never been bad, maybe a 2 or 3 on the 1-10 pain scale. And it's not constant at all - just jabbing here and there. The pain has never been the problem - I was just afraid to do permanent damage.

Mah said I need to stretch a lot to keep get the calf flexible. I also need to get the tendonitis under control, so he suggested this lovely contraption to stretch while I sleep:
Isn't it great? I slept with it for about half the night before I had to rip it off. :)

I am so, so, so happy! I have a real diagnosis and a plan. And I have a doctor's clearance to run!

Dr. Mah said he doesn't even need to see me again unless it gets worse or something. Maybe someday it will explode, and then he can do that surgery. Meantime, I plan to run and run until I can't run anymore :)

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