Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Doubting The Diagnosis

Yesterday was a long day so I didn't get to put up a post. I was also hoping to have a copy of my x-rays from the chiropractor to add. I got a copy of the x-rays but for some reason, my computer doesn't want to read the disc so no pics of my insides again today.

My back was feeling pretty good yesterday. Only very specific movements caused any kind of discomfort and the majority of the day was pretty comfortable. I met with the chiropractor after work for the verdict.

The doc pulled up my x-rays and reviewed my list of symptoms. He proceeded to explain that I have Osteoarthritis in the joint between my L4 and L5 vertebrae. OSTEOARTHRITIS! I'm 31!!!

He showed me the nice, fat gaps between my other vertebrae and then the more narrow gap between my lowest two vertebrae. He explained that this is because of a build-up of extra bone due to an old injury (likely from when I played rugby in college). He said I probably hurt my back years ago and my body responded to instability in that joint by growing extra bone... because bone is a stable substance, of course. The doc was clear that the injury wasn't a result of running. In fact, running has probably helped keep the joint mobile which is a good thing. But now the condition has progressed to the point that I might have flair-ups of pain like this. Osteoarthritis is treatable but not curable. The condition can't be reversed, but you can delay further degeneration.

What was the suggested treatment? 25 chiropractic sessions over the next 15 weeks. Each session would include a short massage and "an adjustment". I went ahead and had a session while I was there so I could get a better idea of what I would be in for. The massage was much more helpful this time. It focused on my lower back and the top of my butt and felt awesome. Apparently, the last massage was a mistake. Then I went back into the doc's office for the adjustment. He had me lie down on the table and he popped my back. I changed positions two more times and he popped my back both times and we were finished. The entire adjustment took less than 30 seconds.

So now I'm left to decide if I believe this is what's wrong with me and if I'm ready to shell out $1,000 to have a bunch of massages and my back popped. This treatment would probably be helpful. I'm sure the doc is knowledgeable and he doesn't seem like he's only out to make money. I'm just struggling to accept that I have a condition that I shouldn't have for another 30-40 years.

My little brother is a doctor (and from what I hear, he's quickly becoming a very well-respected doctor) so I gave him a quick call and ran it by him. He suggested a second opinion from a sports specialist or physical therapist. He also named 3 or 4 other problems that could cause the kind of pain I had. He suggested 5 days with high doses of ibuprofen and avoiding impact on the joint to see if killing the inflammation solves the problem.

So, here's my plan:

Writing this blog was intended as a way for me to stay motivated through my training and to log my journey to New York (and hopefully, Boston). I've heard from several people who are checking in on the blog and I now have the added bonus of feeling somewhat accountable to friends and family that are following my progress. I also feel some responsibility to provide a good example for anyone that might consider training for a marathon some day. So I'm trying to be smart about this injury and do what I would want someone I cared about to do if they were in my shoes.

I'm following Ben's advice and loading up on the ibuprofen. I'm also planning to take another week off from running to avoid any aggravation of the joint until the inflammation is dealt with. I plan to swim and bike a lot this week so I don't have a drop-off in my fitness. This week is a scheduled Recovery Week anyway, so I'm not missing a lot of serious mileage.

I plan to call the physical therapist that treated Liz's runner's knee. I'll get a second opinion and weigh my treatment options.

Today was almost completely pain free (following two doses of ibuprofen) so I'm hopeful that the problem isn't as serious as the doc says. I guess time will tell.

Goal For The Day: Rest.

Goal For The Day: Swim
Distance: 1,000 meters. (5 x 200m)
Location: Fenton Rec Center Outdoor Pool

Notes: My back feels really good today. It's going to be hard to stick to the plan if I feel this good all week. Some light lifting at the gym before swimming with Liz. It was nice to have a warm, but not hot, day to swim outdoors. A good workout but relaxing!

Daily Miles: 1,000 meter swim.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 160.84 Miles.
  Bike - 82.17 Miles.
  Swim - 7,200 meters.

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