Injuries Suck

achillesI am injured.

I was just worn out, beaten up, planned on taking a few days to recover and snap out of the rut. Now, I’m not sure. I went for an easy run with Natalie Saturday in LA. Very chill and slow, about 7 miles along the canal path down to the beach. I have run seven miles easy tons of times in the last few months without problem. But not this time. The last few miles my left big toe started to hurt the same way it did back in March. Again, at first, it just felt like my shoe was sort of rubbing, then pinching, then it hurt sharply. It was sore the rest of the day, but fine. I wasn’t too worried because my toe hasn’t bothered me in months. My heel had been bruised since Santa Cruz and the arch of my foot has been sore from the orthodics that are supposed to take the pressure off my toe and stop it from hurting — which is why I didn’t wear them on Saturday, because I was more worried about my heel and arch than my toe. But, my toe hasn’t hurt. Until now.

Still, I wasn’t worried.

Yesterday, I tried to go on my long run and two miles in my toe started to hurt. I kept running for a bit trying to decide if it was really hurting and then trying to decide if I should stop. Eventually, I turned around and I had to walk almost two miles back because it was hurting so much at that point.

It’s not exactly the same as the bone spur that put me out of commission for three months earlier this year. The pain isn’t at the base of the big toe, where the two bones are rubbing together and causing a bone spur. It’s in the tendon that runs along the top of the big toe, all super painful and inflamed. And, it hurts on push-off, not impact. So, it’s a little different, but same general idea.

Since I’m not really sure what caused it, but I am pretty sure the doctors aren’t going to have more of a clue this time around, there’s really not much to do right now besides rest, ice and anti-inflammatories. If I’m lucky, I can take this week off from running and use all the crazy anti-inflammatories I have left from before and it’ll be fine. But, I’m not super optimistic. If it doesn’t clear up, I’ll have to go back to the doctor and they’ll probably say something like, ‘Have you tried not running?’

It’s all very discouraging and I’m not excited about water running. Maybe I’ll be more optimistic tomorrow.

Things I Have Tried to Get My Foot to Stop Hurting

My foot was getting consistently better every week and I wasn’t too worried that it would be ok in time for Boston. I was mostly worried about fitness. But, since Monday, it’s been sore and not getting better. I don’t know why. I’m frustrated and mystified, obviously, but with nine days until the race, I mostly just want it to stop hurting in time.

Here are things I’ve tried now:

  • Resting
  • No running (Alter-G and water running)
  • Icing
  • Anti-inflammatory cream
  • Anti-inflammatory pills
  • Super intense anti-inflammatory Flector patches (I really thought these were going to make a big difference but they haven’t so far, so I’m starting to doubt that the problem is inflammation)
  • Hot lasers

I’m sure there are plenty of things left to try? Just to get it to stop hurting enough for a little over three hours of running.

Fixing Injuries with the Flector Patch

Monday, after the race, I was very down, slow, and exhausted. It’s easy to recognize that logically I was just tired and didn’t eat well during that day — all of which was toying with my emotions. But, that didn’t change the fact that I didn’t want to get off the couch. Floyd the Cat has been sad too because he doesn’t have any friends, so we didn’t do any work and just laid around.

Workouts have been sluggish all week and pretty much just chances for me to be a bitch to people. In my Masters lane? Chances are I yelled at you. Trying to pass me on the mountain bike trail? Want to make a clever comment while I’m doing drills after my run? Yeah, you don’t want to do that.

The only good thing had been that it seems like my ankle/foot pain (which was always sort of mysterious in the first place) is clearing up.

After my foot got irritated and pain was shooting up from the inside of my arch along the inside of ankle, I went to A.R.T. last week. It seemed like A.R.T. got a lot of the gunky shit out of my foot and heel, but it was still really sore all week. The whole area was just inflamed and tender to the touch. What do you do then? I was torn. The inflammation was pinching things and needed to heal, but I didn’t know what that meant I should do.

I did all the usual stuff — ice, stretch, roll, easy workouts — but what finally seemed to really help was: The Flector Patch.

What is the Flector Patch?

When Steve was hurt before — some kind of Achilles injury, his doctor gave him some topical anti-inflammatory cream and a couple of sample anti-inflammatory patches. There were two of the anti-inflammatory Flector Patches left, so I stuck one on overnight Friday and the other all afternoon/evening on Saturday. And, then, I was able to race without a problem.

Just slap the Flector Patch on there.
Just slap the Flector Patch on there.

The idea is that it’s a topical anti-inflammatory or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), made of diclofenac epolamine, that you stick right on the site of the pain. The medication is absorbed for up to 12 hours and bam, pain gone. It’s also, as I understand, like $75 a patch if your doctor doesn’t just give you samples.

I joked with Coach Mario that it was some strong shit and I wasn’t even sure it would necessarily pass a drug test. And, it was a joke, but hell, I’m not sure. It’s a mainstream nonsteroidal medication proscribed by a doctor, so it has to be ok, right?

I couldn’t tell at first if it worked and I’m still not totally sure. It made the area go numb and certainly didn’t hurt while it was on, then once I took it off my whole foot would feel tingly and weird. But, after the race, it barely hurt at all. Now, it seems like it’s getting better, less sore. Whatever the medication did it gave my foot and ankle a chance to recover and a break from the inflammation and pinching of tendons/nerves that was a whole mess.

I’m inclined to think it works. Steve had similar results when he used it on his Achilles last year. So, it seems like a silver bullet, even if the Flector Patch website includes this quote:

As with other NSAIDs, the way FLECTOR Patch works to relieve pain is not fully understood.

Have you ever heard of the Flector Patch? Or tried topical anti-inflammatories? Do they work for you?