Sudden stress fracture of shin?

Hi, I've been told stress factures come on gradually but this came on suddenly.

Basically I'm an off-road runner, I'm 62 and avoid hard surfaces and only do about 10-15 miles each week.
However, last week I accidentally did two 5km races on Saturday, on tarmac.
On Monday I did a 21 mile moorland walk/jog, with a 2 mile downhill jog to finish, on tarmac, in my trail shoes. I felt fine but a bit stiff in the hips and knees.
On Tuesday I walked 6 miles to a mountain hut and then jog/walked 1500 vertical feet back down the rocky tracks again in my trail shoes.
On Wednesday I walked to the top of the UK's highest paved road (Great Dun Fell) then jog/walked 2000+ feet descent over 4-5 miles on tarmac back down (very steep in places), again in my trail shoes.

On the way up I had felt a tightness in the lower part of my left shin but just thought it was muscle stiffness. On the way back down everything was aching but I did notice that the tightness in my shin was now a dull ache.
After getting back to my digs I went for a brief shakedown walk and immediately got a lot of pain in my lower left shin. On inspection there was a hot red spot a few inches up from my ankle. The next day a yellow bruise appeared about 4-inches across.

I suspected a stress fracture and have iced it and largely stayed off it since. Each morning it seems better, but if I do any prolonged standing I get a localised stabbing pain in the shin. Its 5 days of immobility now. Clearly a return to running is out of the question for several weeks, however I would like to get out on the bike, but i'm not sure I should until I am pain free standing.

Any advice on this ? how long until I should be able to start walking again?

Comments

  • SHADESSHADES ✭✭✭✭
    A stress fracture does happen over a period of time but the pain can come on fairly quickly, often a runner gets the pain during/after a hard race/session.

    You need a diagnosis, physio and maybe in a week or two an x-ray to see if it is a stress fracture.  I think it's no weight bearing exercise for a couple of months.
  • > @SHADES said:
    > I think it's no weight bearing exercise for a couple of months.

    Thanks @SHADES . I'm struggling with what is meant by 'weight-bearing exercise'.
    I got on the bike turbotrainer this morning which was ok until I tried an out-of-the-saddle effort, so I guess that counted as weight-bearing (bodyweight) :-(

    I'm really keen to find out how long I should sit on the sofa for. When should I expect to be able to start walking?
  • TTTT ✭✭✭
    Hi Andy as Shades says you need a diagnosis. GP? MIU which has an x-ray? 
  • HA77HA77 ✭✭✭
    Agree with others. There is no point asking for advice on stress fractures when you probably don't have one. There are any number of problems it could be and no one will be able to diagnose it over the internet. 

    To properly diagnose a stress fracture you probably need a bone scan or MRI, x-rays are not likely to show anything. 
     
    These sorts of questions are quite common all over the internet but there is only ever one correct answer - see a professional.
  • > @HA77 said:
    > Agree with others. There is no point asking for advice on stress fractures when you probably don't have one. There are any number of problems it could be and no one will be able to diagnose it over the internet. 
    >
    > To properly diagnose a stress fracture you probably need a bone scan or MRI, x-rays are not likely to show anything. 
    >  
    > These sorts of questions are quite common all over the internet but there is only ever one correct answer - see a professional.

    Thanks @HA77 I appreciate your feedback.
    However, I'm not asking for a diagnosis. I am pretty certain it is a stress fracture given the circumstances and the symptoms. And even if it isn't a stress fracture, I think my best course of action, until I see my GP next week, is to treat is as if it were, so as not to make it worse.
    Getting an MRI will probably take several weeks, I think I'm best to be cautious until then.

    However, I am still interested in other people's experience of tibial stress fractures. As this will help me to know what to expect and what to avoid.
  • HA77HA77 ✭✭✭
    I'm unsure how you can be pretty certain it's a stress fracture. The way it happened and your symptoms sound much more likely to be a tib ant overuse issue.

    I think just avoid doing anything that makes it sore. Even if it is a stress fracture, gentle walking or riding should be fine.
  • > @HA77 said:
    > I think just avoid doing anything that makes it sore. Even if it is a stress fracture, gentle walking or riding should be fine.

    Unfortunately not at the moment (6 days in) Standing for more than 15 mins results in localised stabbing pains in the shin. Walking around the house is ok but then suddenly wont be. Tried the bike turbo trainer this morning and got issues when I put any effort in. So it looks like the bike is out for a bit too.

    You're right it could be tib ant overuse. However getting a diagnosis will take a while and the treatment is pretty much the same, except for the use of painkillers - I don't want to mask the pain if its a SF and risk making it worse. So treat for worst case scenario ...

    Maybe looking at a few weeks of Netflix, pizza and beer on the sofa ;-)
  • HA77HA77 ✭✭✭
    Apologies for being a bit narky. People trying to get diagnosis and treatment over the internet in the place of seeing a trained professional is one of my bugbears and gets me a bit worked up.
  • SHADESSHADES ✭✭✭✭
    Andy - it's unlikely you'll get an MRI unless you have private medical insurance.  Phone your GP's surgery and you should be able to refer yourself to the physio, sometimes you can get an appointment quickly especially if you'll take a cancellation. The physio will advise if you need an X-ray, for a SF it's not done too soon as won't show until it starts to heal and new bone forms. 

    If it hurts standing after 15 mins then you need to avoid weight bearing as much as possible until the pain lessens.
  • bigballer69bigballer69 ✭✭✭
    I doubt you have a stress fracture. More likely "shin splints" which could mean a bunch of things.

    You went from running 10-15 miles a week to almost 40 miles in 5 days which included a 21 miles event and allot of hard assent and descent. I've been there before and I would expect most runners have, instead of admitting to ourselves we did to much to soon we jump to the worst possible conclusion it could be.   
  • > @bigballer69 said:
    > I doubt you have a stress fracture. More likely "shin splints" which could mean a bunch of things.

    Thanks for the reply. Many years ago I used to suffer with shin-splints of and on for a couple of years, and that was a very different experience to this. I understand that shin-splints covers a range of issues. In my experience it used to come on during a run then disappear overnight so i'd be able to run the next day only for the same thing to happen again. A podiatrist eventually did a little manipulation on my lower lag and I never got it again. This was so sudden and so debilitating and so painful, hence my reaction to think of the worst case - I was a bit stressed!

    However over a week on from the injury, things have started to settle down. I'm still getting some pain but definitely moving around more easily. I've still got another week for my appointment but I have spoken to a physio. Also, now that I can now move my foot without getting the stabbing pain in my shin. When I do, I can feel a crunching sensation under my hand when I hold my leg and pull my foot up and down. This leads me to think it is more likely to be and acute tibialis anterior overuse injury as @HA77 reminded me. So yeah, shin-splints of a sort I guess.

    Anyways, thanks for all the comments. As any runner knows, when you get an injury that feels bad and you cant get an appointment, and you see your plans for the next few months go up in smoke, you turn to your fellow runners for a bit of advice and reassurance. That's what these forums are for.
    Thanks guys.
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