T Nation

Non-Healing Injury

I am a (former, I think) sprinter… six months ago I attempted to resume training after a 30 day jail-related layoff and quickly I incurred a serious injury to both lower legs which I identified as classic medial shin splints. I have not run a step since September and the injury has still not healed. It’s like I’m trapped in the acute or subacute stage the fuckers just won’t heal. My condition has degenerated to the point where it now hurts to walk.

I went to PT about three months ago and it was so worthless that I refused to pay. I subsequently consulted a podiatrist. An MRI revealed swelling in and around the tibialis posterior tendon. First he put me in custom orthotics, which didn’t help at all with the pain, but rather simply made me dependant on the artificial support. He later put me in fiberglass casts to immobilize my subtalar joints, and I endured that miserable shit for 21 of the most uncomfotable days of my life. The casts actually seemed to help a lot with the injury and I did not experience any pain at all while wearing them. A few hours after I got the casts removed, however, the injury began flaring up, and 24 hours later I am in about as much pain as I was when I first had the casts put on. Worse, my feet and lower legs are severely weakened- I have easily lost several inches off of my calves and my feet are as weak as all fuck to the point that I can’t take a single step without my orthotics.

This situation is totally fucking bizarre and ridiculous. I am largely debilitated at this point- I can neither work nor go to school, nor do any type of exercise other than weight training (elliptical and cycling both aggravate the injury, and I don’t have access to a lap pool). Also, I can’t squat or DL. I have gained at least 15 lbs of fat and it is extremely distressing to someone who is used to staying lean.

I am totally lost at this point and my faith in doctors is exhausted. Their treatment has only made me worse. Before seeking medical help the only thing I couldn’t do was run; now I can barely fucking walk. And I am not into any kind of stupid fucking alternative quackery. If anyone tells me to find an ART practitioner I am going to stick scissors in an electrical outlet.

I understand that, having not responded to conservative treatment, I should be a candidate for surgery that this point. The problem is… TPT surgery is usually only performed on women over 40 who have either tendon fraying or rupture. I have no structural problems; only some fucking swelling. Cutting into that tendon will cause it to scar up like a motherfucker so, lacking the absolute necessity to do this, it would probably cause more harm than good. Cortisone injections in the TPT carry a very high risk of rupture so that it a really fucking bad idea. Also, I am very much opposed to using steroids, because it has been proven that they do not facilitate healing and may actually inhibit it. I refused to take Medrol when my doc recommended it and consider him incompetent for having done so.

Anyway… now that I typed all this shit, I really have no idea what I was hoping to achieve by posting it… it is unlikely that I will find any good advice on a message board if I can’t get it from trained professionals… but, I don’t know what else to do at this point, so it’s worth a shot I guess… any well-informed advice would be highly appreciated. I am desperate and depressed.

It is not even about running anymore. I will probably not attempt to return to running if this is the kind of risk it carries for me at this point. I just want to be able to walk and do normal fucking things without relying on artificial support such as casts, orthotics, etc. Running would be great but I am not even entertaining the idea right now. It’s just intangible. I am 22 and this shit fucking sucks.

Holy shit man, I never knew shin splints could turn into such a problem. Good on you for keeping up the motivation to search for an answer though!

Honestly I don’t have a magic bullet of information for you, but I have figured out the one things that tends to give me mild shin splints…

I only seem to get it when I’m on PCT, after a cycle. I understand you’re against steroids, and I respect that, but I’m giving you my experience on the off chance it may lead to something for you. During PCT (post cycle therapy) one of my aims is to dramatically (and temporarily) reduce the amount of estrogen in my system. Without fail, during PCT I will always get shin splints. After 4-6 weeks of PCT, the chems stop, my body’s hormone levels stabilise again, and the shin splints go.

Just my 2c. I have no idea if that will help at all… never know I suppose.

Good luck, and stay strong.