Tag Archives: medicine

Strong Legs, Weak Bones

First, let me get the good news out of the way. My recovery is going well, and the doctor cleared me for Mitchell. Fitness is snapping back, and I’m even relatively optimistic that I can do well. I will not be riding with a time in mind, but I think that based on my recent performances, I could do better than I hoped. Most likely I will be within the 8-10 hour range — slower than last year, but pretty strong given my recent injury battles.

We finally got the results from my bone scan. I suspected my bone density to be on the low side, but it still came in well below my expectations. According to the test, both of my femurs are in the osteopenic range. That means that if not improved, this condition could eventually develop into osteoporosis. As my doctor put it, this changes the dialog for the last several months. This was likely the underlying cause of the injuries, and also the likely culprit for some of the pain I endured during the recovery.

I have to give a shout to Hill Junkie and all my doctor friends who pushed me towards getting a bone scan. I had asked for one in the past, but it took some persistence to get the doctors to order the test.

The question is, what caused this? It is not normal for someone my age to lose bone density. I brushed off my laptop, and did some not-very-scientific internet diagnostics last night. Here are my conclusions:

1. No Weight Bearing Exercises. Cycling may be great exercise, but it is not great for bone strength. The doctor suggested running, walking or weightlifting. A friend suggested jumprope. I’ll be doing nothing at least for the next couple months while the hip continues to recover.

2. Diet Cola. My last remaining vice is that I drink way too many diet soft drinks. My daily routine is one in the morning, one at lunch, and sometimes one in the afternoon. If I’m feeling particularly sluggish, I’ll have one before I ride the bike. The average is probably 2-3 a day, which some recent studies have said can lead to hip deterioration. That’s a warning sign if I’ve ever heard one.

3. Thyroid Issues. A good friend of mine encouraged me to check some levels in my thyroid. I have had thyroid issues in the past, so this is a distinct possibility.

The next step is more diagnostics, and probably more supplements. I’ll be working again with my family doctor to determine my needs. There’s a chance I’ll need to see an endocrinologist.

The good news is that I caught this early. If this was a problem that went unnoticed, I would have a tough time when I turn 70.

In the meantime, I’ll continue riding my bike.

The Good, the Bad, and the Angry

The Good

I’ve been long overdue for some good news. It came today. No labral tear. I repeat: NO TEAR!

My orthopaedic doctor has left the country, and my GP had the day off, so I had to smooth talk the imaging company to get the MRI results. The X-Ray results concluded that there was a likely lateral labrum tear. As I opened the envelope of the MRI report, I fully expected to find more bad news waiting for me. Not only did I expect a tear, but I thought there was an outside chance there would still be signs of the stress fracture.

The MRI definitively ruled out the stress fracture. It is gone. I won’t miss it.

The report also ruled out a tear. One thing I have to remember is that this is a radiologist’s report, and not an orthopaedic surgeon. While I have to take these results with a grain of salt, they are encouraging.

No stress fracture means no more crutches, no more cane, and most importantly, I can take Advil and anti-inflammatory drugs. It is simply amazing how much these drugs help. My pain and soreness diminished significantly with the first swallow.

The Bad

There are some other things that still need to be dealt with.

I’m reluctant to self-diagnose. I’ve learned the hard way that reading too much on the internet can sometimes do more harm than good. To be honest, I do not understand half of the report, and I agonize myself trying, but there are some things that give me cause for concern.

One issue has to do with the bone marrow in my hip. It may be related to the stress fracture, maybe not. I have no idea, and will try not to worry about it.

The other issue is that I have a small cyst in the labrum. This isn’t the cancerous type, just some swelling, which is likely the cause of the popping, snapping, and the pain. Some of my internet research shows that this type of cyst is often accompanied by a tear, so I’m not out of the woods yet, but my fingers are crossed.

This means that surgery may still be necessary, although there could be alternate methods. From what I understand, the cyst could be zapped with a shot. Physical therapy might also help work it out. While I’ll consider all options, surgery is now more of a last resort.

The Angry

When I first heard about the potential tear, I’ll be honest that I was a little miffed. Why was this not discovered months ago? If the doctor had ordered a different sort of MRI the first time, could he have seen this? Why did he give me short shrift when not seeing healing marks on the X-ray, and make me go another month on the couch?

After reflection, I’m not angry with the doctor. In fact, I feel the opposite. He actually got it right. He told me that I had a stress fracture, and that my hip labrum was ‘off.’ That appears to be the case. He said that when the fracture heals, we’d deal with the rest, which is where we’re at now.

Instead, I am diverting this anger to my recovery. I’m going to be smart, sensible, and listen to my doctor’s orders, but I am going to attack my training and recovery with vigor. This was an unfortunate and uncomfortable setback, but after riding angry, I will emerge stronger with more focus.

Ready or not, here I come.