From the Hip to the Rib

I was going to blog today about the Assault on the Carolinas, including sharing a video and some other goodies from the ride. That’ll have to come later, as today I was surprised by yet another injury.

During my recovery, I had been doing some foam rolling to help rehab my hip. The hip caused most of the right side of my body to be sore, especially my lower back, glutes, and quads. The foam roller became my tool of choice for helping with managing the discomfort, and it did wonders. It may have even helped with my recovery.

In a session approximately three weeks ago, I was focusing more on my lower back, rolling it somewhat aggressively while applying a little extra body weight. As I rolled further up my back, I heard an audible pop on the lower corner of my ribcage. It sent a wave of pain through my body.

Rather than worry, I spent the remainder of the day resting, figuring that I probably tweaked a little something that would be better in a couple of days.

After a few days, it got a little better, but still had a good bit of soreness in a specific area. I would usually not feel it on a ride, so I still wasn’t terribly worried.

Fast forward to the Assault on the Carolinas. It was still an issue that I figured I could deal with. I noticed on the descents that I could not crouch down all the way, but it mostly was not an issue until later.

Around midway through the Caesar’s Head climb, I was getting sore, and fast. It was partly my hip, which was to be expected, but also my back. When I reached the top, my back was screaming at me. That was a big reason why I struggled on the way back, and why I wasn’t in a smiling mood at the finish line.

I made an appointment with the doctor for this Friday to take a look at it.

It was feeling a little better for our Tuesday group ride, so I went at it. Again, it felt fine once I warmed up. It was a little sore afterward, but not too alarming.

The next morning it hurt a lot. Toward the end of my working day, I could barely move. I even texted my wife asking her to stand by in case I couldn’t drive home.

After resting, I went back to work this morning. It was a little stiff, not too bad, until I started sneezing. Pollen is everywhere here, and I didn’t have any sort of sinus or allergy medication to take. Every sneeze reverberated through my body in excruciating agony. Again, I could barely move, and wasn’t going to make it to Friday.

I went to Doctor’s Care. After an x-ray, the doctor gave me some bad news.

Cracked rib.

You’re kidding? He showed me on the x-ray. There it was, a distinct line across the bone.

While this is nothing compared to the hip (which feels better), it is still concerning. The first thing I did was call my orthopaedic doctor to ask for a bone density scan. He had previously said it wasn’t necessary, that he could tell from the x-ray that my bones are fine.

The timing for this couldn’t be worse. I’ve had plans to spend four days riding in Brevard beginning tomorrow. The doctor tells me that I should be able to ride. The bone is going to heal on its own in 6-8 weeks, and it probably has already been healing for three. He said that as long as I can tolerate the pain, that I should be fine. Just make sure not to fall or I could have serious problems.

Can I tolerate the pain? Through all this, the one thing I’ve learned about myself is that I have a strong tolerance for pain. Maybe all the climbing helps with that. I rode Six Gap with a fractured hip after all. Now I’ve been riding three weeks with a cracked rib. I think I can handle some pain, as long as I’m careful not to go too hard. There will not be any long rides for me this weekend.

The next big question is about Mitchell. The fitness level is still not there yet. If I can continue to ride in the next few weeks, then there’s a chance I can go. The rib should be close to healed by then. I’ll also have the opportunity to consult with my doctor on 5/9.

We’ll see.


18 responses to “From the Hip to the Rib

  • kruzmeister

    Sorry to hear about your cracked rib Aaron. I know how much they suck I had one when I was doing martial arts competitions. Not fun at all. I strapped mine with rigid strapping tape to give it some support and it helped to a certain degree. I’m glad at least that the doctor didn’t ground you completely so at least you can ride. I hope it heals up quickly for you. – Simone

    • aaronwest

      Thanks, Simone. I may strap mine with some tape this weekend. It is on the lower area of my back so it shouldn’t restrict my movement or breathing. It isn’t fun, but I’ll still take a broken rib over a hip any day.

  • Doug Jansen

    Wow, sorry to hear it. Are you going forward with a bone density scan? I’m no doctor, but I think it is pretty hard to gauge bone health from regular xrays. At this point, I would be pretty persistent about it. Better to know now than to find out after something really horrible happens.

    • aaronwest

      Doug, I first asked him upon your suggestion, but he seemed convinced that my bones were fine. I will push him harder, as this is highly unusual to have two unusual fractures in such a short period of time. (Edit: they are ordering the bone scan for next week.)

  • AdorkableGeek™ (@AdorkableGeek)

    Quick healing man….btw just followed you on Strava -AC

  • bgddyjim

    Damn brother, seriously? We’re starting to look at dates for the house down in Northern Georgia, I’ll let you know what we come up with and if I have to drive to you to get a ride in, I’m cool with that. In the mean time, get better my friend, and for the love of God, stay away from sharp, hard objects!

    • aaronwest

      LOL, and I’ll make sure to steer clear of any lightning in the area. It would be great to meet up with you guys. Just so you know, I decided to take a big break (no pun intended) in June because of all these injuries, but I can possibly get away in July if you give me a little notice.

  • James Tobias

    Be careful with that foam roller. One of the first thing I was told when I started using mine was to not use it on my back, or to be extremely careful when using it on the back. There are also some other areas you can do some damage as well, even on the legs, so make sure you are keeping it on the muscles. It’s a powerful but dangerous tool!

  • Brian Lube

    Setbacks are never fun 😦 I hope you can continue to get some strength and be ready to do what you can for AOMM. I hope you are able to at least make the attempt to Marion and see how you feel at that point.

    • aaronwest

      Even if I cannot get a lot of training in, I’m going to keep my registration. Unless I have a major setback, I’ll give it a go. I should know by Marion whether I can make it up the mountain.

  • AdorkableGeek™ (@AdorkableGeek)

    I’ll be in Raleigh and Charlotte next month for work. I might also be driving to Columbia and Greenville during that trip. I hope I get to see some of your hills and any bike shop recommendations for a shop jersey are appreciated.

  • Cherry

    Sorry to hear about all these unfortunates. I used to foam roll my back as well (i own an extra firm rumbleroller – those spikey ones?) until my PT told me I’ll break my back doing that. I now use tennis balls for back and shoulders. Speedy recovery Aaron!

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