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My Sacral Stress Fracture Story

My story with stress fractures started at the peak of my running career.  I had just done a 2:40 at the Marine Corps Marathon and was feeling faster than ever.  My nutrition was more about just sustaining the energy to get through workouts than to repair my body which was one of my biggest mistakes.  I transferred from running on the treadmill to running outside for the first time in months because it finally was nice outside…I decided to do 2 mile repeats, 4 of them on hard pavement.  That is when it happened without warning at the end of the fourth 2 mile repeat I felt something wasn’t right and was uncomfortable.  I started to jog and the pain in my lower left back/sacrum area was horrible but I managed to jog the quarter mile home.  First thought, muscle pull and I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I took a day off, iced, NSAIDS, etc.  Went to run on Saturday to see about my long run and it was the most painful 10 miles I have ever gone through and I had to stop.  I could barely walk.  Boom, a week later I went to see a doctor and got an X-ray first (negative) and then a bone scan which confirmed a sacral stress fracture in the left ala.  Just like that – I was devastated.  Banging out 12 milers at 5:38/mile pace and now I could barely walk.

A sacral stress fracture has its advantages and disadvantages in regards to healing.  The fracture is in an area of the body that is well supplied by blood which is the number one thing that can help speed up stress fracture healing, blood supply.  But, the negative is that your sacrum moves with just about every movement so it is hard to immobilize unless you are just sitting there the whole day which is what I ended up doing.  My medical school studying suffered and I felt my world was crashing down around me.  My hunger felt unstoppable because I was use to eating to maintain a 10+ mile run practically everyday.  I couldn’t even cross train for awhile.  Devastation was an understatement for where I was – very dark times.

I managed to hobble around for about 2 weeks and then slowly the pain diminished and I was able to walk without pain but I was still favoring it.  Sacral stress fractures are notorious for being nagging because they are so difficult to fully immobilize like a femur or tibia stress fracture.  I was finally able to cross train and I cycled and swam which I did find a little love for swimming but came to despise cycling indoors…its the truth…it was horribly boring and miserable.  But, it helped keep my endorphins going a little and keep me from gaining weight quickly.

At about 5.5 weeks out from a horrible sacral stress fracture – I was able to run.  My mistake was that I came back a little too quickly and ramped up the mileage within 2 weeks too quickly because I got excited and I felt a little pain after about 2 weeks.  So, I stopped and saw another sports medicine doctor who basically just allowed me to get an MRI (should have been done from the start).  The MRI was basically inconclusive but it did show increased white in the left sacral ala/wing meaning that repair was still going on but there was no fracture line.  Also, worth noting that I had an incidental finding of a Tarlov cyst (sacral meningeal cyst) that I have probably had since birth.  But, after about a week off again I slowly started back running and worked my mileage up properly this time and stuck with running on soft surfaces like rubberized tracks and sand/gravel/etc.  Everyone asks people with stress fractures whether you have any weird feelings coming back and the answer is YES!  3 months out and I still feel weird feelings and soreness sometimes.  Sometimes its a weird tingle, a tightness, a soreness, or just something indescribable but you are hyperaware that it is there.  You just have to pay attention, don’t over do it, ice, and run on soft surfaces to minimize the impact force.  Obviously, I took a bunch of different supplements and ate certain foods which I will be going over in later posts that I feel really contributed to the healing of my sacral stress fracture that hopefully can help speed up your stress fracture healing time.

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About stress fracture healing

stress fracture healing
Sub-elite marathon runner and 4th year medical student that has a passion for learning about fracture healing. As a future physician, I understand the complexities of a fracture and I want to help all those wanting to learn more about how to optimize fracture healing time, recovery and prevention.

37 comments

  1. I found your blog on the stress fracture support blog and this entry was very helpful and encouraging. I was diagnosed with a sacral stress fracture the week before the Boston Marathon this year and it was devastating. I am finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel after taking many weeks off. (I haven’t run since my last painful run over 9 weeks ago.) I started cross training a few weeks ago and recently started fast walking. Tonight I introduced just a little jogging and felt fine. I’m so ready to get back into training but I know I have to take it slow! I will have to check back with this blog to see how your recovery is going.

  2. stress fracture healing
    stress fracture healing

    I have been there and it definitely stinks. I just found that doing everything I could to be proactive helped my stress level and I truly felt helped speed up my healing of my sacral stress fracture.

  3. I read your blog reading from your comment on pelvicstressfractures.blogspot.com for me posts like these are always helpful. thanks for more advice and your experiences.

  4. Oh my goodness, someone else with a sacral ala fracture. I have been feeling VERY alone!
    I wonder if you can tell me if you still get sharp pangs even once it is healed? Or does this mean it is still not healed and I should not cross train at all?
    I was diagnosed in February and was on crutches for about 10 weeks. Now I am able to walk without pain but I am sore and I get a really intense “tightness” across my low back. It is like it locks up. Does any of that sound familiar?
    I guess I just wonder if I am ok to cross train lightly or if I need more time off? I am not a sissy when it comes to pain but the twinges make me worry it is not healed? Thanks for any advice.

  5. stress fracture healing
    stress fracture healing

    Amanda: It all sounds very familiar! Tightness isn’t bad and is NORMAL…as long as there is no pain then you are usually good. Cross training is a good thing as long as it doesn’t cause pain because it increases blood circulation. I never got sharp pains when I was healed – tingling, tightness, soreness, and every once and a awhile I would get sharp twinges but they weren’t really painful but twinges is the best way to describe it.

    I would definitely try cross training at this point – swimming and cycling because it reduces stress, increases endorphins and blood flow which all HELP stress fracture healing. It is NOT good to be completely immobile…you wanna keep the blood flowing.

    I wanna help – trust me – so if you have ANY questions please let me know!

  6. Thank you! I have never been so depresed, this has been the darkest time of my life. I have a two-year old and so resting has been tough. Your story really resonated with me.
    So, I do still have painful twinges. Not constant pain,and it is usually worse after I have had an “active ” day- like if I do some cross training. Riding a spin type bike sets it off while I am riding but the recumbent is ok. I have been doing mini walks- like 20 minutes on flat surface. But now I am just terrified that these little shots of pain mean I should not be exercising at all.
    Here is another question- did you have any pelvic pressure or heavy feeling while you were healing? I swear there is a heavy feeling in my pelvic area. I have had it checked out but the drs just say they don’t know what that might be. Ugh. I can’t help but think it is related- it started about a week after the injury.
    I am seriously going mad. I cry every day out of frustration and just now knowing what to do. I REALLY appreciate your help, it is hard when there are so few people who have been through it.
    Also, when did you start doing stretching or core work? I feel like I am tight as a drum but scared to stretch.

  7. stress fracture healing
    stress fracture healing

    Amanda: I have been there – exactly your spot. My sacral stress fracture was the darkest time of my life, ask my fiance – it was horrible. I did havea certain heavy feeling to my sacral/pelvic area. I started cross training at 2-3 weeks after diagnosis but I did not stretch much until about 6 weeks or so out. The force you are putting on it cross training is plenty to stimulate osteoblast (bone formation) – you don’t need the core training and stretching yet until it is healed.

    The most important thing at this stage is making your bone is strong as possible as quick as possible…don’t worry too much about muscle tightness and core things as these are mainly for prevention and takingforce off the area. You want to focus on doing everything you can to optimize your bone mineral density and repair which includes getting lots of calcium, vitamin D, boron, zinc, magnesium, etc. I am still in the process of blogging about every supplement I took which I felt helped a lot…I did just about every product and supplement out there to help speed it up.

  8. When did you start doing resistance /weight training? Is it ok to be doing upper body at this point do you think?
    I noticed your MRI did not show a full fracture line. Unfortunately mine definitely did. But this was back in February. It does feel tremendously improved- I could not walk without a limp, couldn’t sneeze or roll over in bed without lots of pain •
    was this similar to yours? Did you ever get a cat scan? My doctor is now recommending one
    have you heard of osteosheath? It is the calcium I am taking, a bone doctor recommended it. You are also one of the only people I have heard recommend at least 5000 vit d. Most think that is too high, but I agree, that’s what I am taking alOng with 1000 vit c, fish oil and a multi .
    Figs and almonds high in calcium too :)

    • stress fracture healing
      stress fracture healing

      Amanda: I am a marathon runner and honestly do very little weight training or resistance training but what I did do I waited until I was able to run again. But, it is definitely OK to do upper body at this point! You are correct, my MRI did not show a fracture line but this was about 8 weeks after the initial injury so it could have possibly healed up…I should have had an MRI done at the beginning but unfortunately this was not done. I definitely had a limp in the beginning (~2-3 weeks in) and it definitely was bothersome at night – I could not rollover or sneeze/cough without pain…I found it helped to sleep on my back with by legs propped up some.

      I never had a CT scan – MRI is your best bet in my opinion. I would honestly recommend an MRI to compare with your previous one to see how far along the healing is. I haven’t heard of Osteosheath…I took Calcium Hydroxyapatite as this is a highly absorbable form of calcium. I also bought some cheap antacids (made of calcium carbonate) and popped those sometimes. Just don’t take more than 2 a day because it can cause constipation. As far as the Vitamin D – it is extremely hard to overdose on Vitamin D. 30 minutes in the sunlight is predicted to give you 20,000 UI of Vitamin D. Also, personal anecdote – I was taking about 800 UI a day of Vitamin D before I had my blood tested and for whatever reason I was low in Vitamin D – my measurements were 25 and you are suppose to be above 50. So, I started taking 4000-5000 UI of Vitamin D a day and it improved as well as I felt like I was seeing a noticeable difference in my healing – whether it was placebo effect or not – I don’t know but I didn’t really care because I started noticing gains in healing when I upped my Vitamin D intake…probably because I was finally getting proper calcium absorption.

  9. Thanks a lot. I won’t be a cyber stress fracture stalker :) It is just nice to get the opinion of someone who has been there.
    I feel like this is taking too long. I mean, if you were spinning a few weeks out with no pain I don’t know why I should still be getting jolts of pain when I do a stupid recumbent bike of almost zero resistance. Horrible. Makes me want to scream.
    How long total until you were back running comfortably? I know it is a bad idea to judge by someone else’s healing time but still, I can’t believe this is going on 4 months. I was diagnose the first week of Feb and went on crutches for weeks and weeks. I am about to ask for surgery, I swear!

    • stress fracture healing

      Your not a stress fracture stalker lol :-) I completely understand. DO NOT DO SURGERY. I can’t stress that enough…I was running “comfortably” after about 12 weeks…I could run before that but was feeling weird sensations and such. There is always different degrees of stress fractures plus I did a lot of EXTRA things to help speed mine up and optimize my healing so that is another variable in all this.

      Trust me, you do not want anyone cutting into you. Healing is like running – you get what you put into it I think…rest is important but the nutritional and supplemental aspect I feel can really help. It just depends on how far your willing to go, spend, etc unfortunately. I was desperate and willing to try everything and hence why I have experience with almost every product and supplement with stress fractures and bone healing.

  10. Oh my goodness, I would spend ANY amount, eat dirt, whatever to get this on the mend more quickly. I just feel these pangs and go crazy. I just can’t imagine it is still messed up after all this time??? I am definitely someone who will push through pain (like lots of us runners it seems) but I am scared that the pangs are not normal.
    But you say you were running with no pain after 12 weeks. I am so jealous. What I would give to just be able to go for a fast walk!
    Have you ever heard of it taking this long? Seriously, I have been looking at sacroplasty online!

    • stress fracture healing

      Just my personal opinion but I would not advise surgery and this is coming from a medical student as well ;-) I have heard of it taking longer than that to heal – it all depends on the severity, the area, nutritional status, etc. There are a lot of factors. I would advise you to get on a supplement plan because at this point that is all you can really control – what you put into your body to optimize the repair process. I would also suggest trying to find a portable ultrasound machine. Also, if you are willing to – I would definitely look into buying a bone stimulator machine as a last resort before even considering surgery at all. You can get one through insurance sometimes or you can look on Ebay for cheaper ones. I never got to try out the bone stimulator bone definitely is one of the most recommended things to try (couldn’t afford and found out about it too late in the process). But, definitely look into supplements – if you have questions about all the supplements I took I would be more than happy to share – just send me an email and I could give you a bit more personalized suggestions.

  11. Thanks for all your tips. I got soem Lactoferrin and will keep you posted. I pool “walked” today and there was sharp pain. My doctor is telling me that some weight bearing. like pool walking is good bc it helps stimulate bone healing. But at the same time I really can’t believe that something that causes the injury to “spark” is beneficial??? So confusing. And hard to not exercise when I am absolutely hungering for it.
    Is there anything to the notion that laying low and just continuing to rest is best?

  12. Hi Guys- great posts to follow. Like you I am a competitive runner and triathlete. I was doing my last prep run for my second IM last year and bam – my SI gave out. I thought it was soft tissue injury as did physio and osteo. I did race the IM in Mexico but that was a huge mistake and I really could only hobble it. I am normally a 2:40 marathon guy. It took me 5:30 to walk shuffle it :) An MRI after the race showed stress fracture and insufficiency which suggested that I had not been eathing enough. I took december and january off, and started to do brisk walks in feb adn march short jogs and by april light runs. I did cross train and do weights. I am a swimmer and a biker so I pushed on in those events. I am a bit frustrated cause I thought I was out of the woods but after trying intervals on Monday (4 by 1k) with short recovery on trails and an ez 10k tuesday I have that bruised and sore feeling and uneasyness when weight bearing. I guess I will just have to lay off it even more for a while. Just curious on the supplements you used – could you flip me the names?

    cheers
    MH

  13. I’m so glad I found this thread. I suffered a fracture to my right sacral ala last July. I was seven months pregnant with my first son and ended up on a walker until the end of the pregnancy, when the fracture had healed enough that I walked out of the hospital unassisted. I have become an avid swimmer and swam almost every day of the pregnancy and since.

    That being said, I just suffered another sacral stress fracture to the same location. I haven’t run for over a year, and I think it happened because I walk a ton and lift my 22 pound 10-month-old all day.

    I haven’t been able to get through the day without pain killers, and the depression about the situation is starting to kick in – especially because I can’t pick my son up without pain.

    Do you have any suggestions for me? The stress fracture just recurred last week, so I’m afraid I’ve got a long road ahead. I saw that you recommend supplements – would you please pass the list my way?

    Thanks so much -

  14. Hi guys. I would like to add that I too have a stress fracture of the left sacral ala I’m trying to recover from. I haven’t run a step since June 1st and am taking Calcium and Vitamin D. I only swim but sometimes it feels like the kicking from swimming might aggravate it a tad but I am not sure.

    • stress fracture healing

      Hi Rob,
      I didn’t start swimming for about 2-3 weeks after I did absolutely nothing and I felt like it aggravated it some when I kicked so I didn’t kick – I just used my upper body and then week by week I slowly added more and more kicking – testing it out you could say and it gradually got better week by week.

      • Thanks that sounds great. I averaged close to 70miles per week for all 52 weeks of 2010, getting up to 85-90mpw for a few weeks in the fall. PR’ed in 2 races. was going to do a half marathon and then i started getting a knee problem in December and had to back off from all running pretty much. then after doing some cross training back tightened up and started hurting and when I got back to running a little bit (like 40-50mpw) the back was getting worse. I stopped in the middle of runs doing some piriformis and IT band stretches not knowing what the heck was going on.

        Since my diagnosis on June 1st I’ve been trying to follow Pete Pfitzinger’s swimming schedule http://www.pfitzinger.com/labreports/9wkH2O.htm for coming back from stress fractures but it’s tough to get my heart rate up in the pool up without doing some kind of kicking. And while kicking doesn’t hurt while I’m doing it, it’s tough to judge whether my low back/butt area hurts a bit more AFTER i’ve finished a swimming workout. When I get in the pool I use an aqua belt and mainly move the arms like crazy in an effort to get my HR up high.

        After my MRI diagnosis on June 1st, I stopped all running and pretty much did no exercise period for 3-4 weeks until I started some swimming. It’s been 8 weeks since I’ve run a step and while I am a bit better it really only feels like I’m like 30% better.

        • Mainly I am just really hoping to God that I can recover from this eventually and be able to run normally again without this back/butt pain. I’m now doing the right things with a Vitamin D (D2 Rx) big pill 1x/wk and calcium with Vitamin D 2x/day. Hopefully i keep this up and this will be all gone in 6 months or less. at least that’s my hope.

  15. by the way my vitamin D was also a bit low, at 26.

  16. i know how you all feel :-(
    aged 40 i was at the peak of my running life and over the summer beat my 5 and 10k PBs several time. at the end of september i smashed my marathon pb with a 3:08. i was running average of 65k per week and one morning after a very heavy week i had this pain in my butt. i dismissed it as just a strain but when i tried to run the next day i pulled up after 200 metres and then limped around for the whole weekend. on monday i had another go, necked a bunch of painkillers then ran up a steep hill. i got to about 4k and just had to give up. from there it terrible, very painful and i could hardly walk anyway. ok while i was seated.
    i went to several sports physios, a chiropactor, a doctor and an osteopath none of which spotted it but i finally got an mri referal from the osteopath. it showed a fracture in the left sacrum s1 to s3 but also fractures in my left and right pubic bones. what a disaster.
    i actually think i got the sacrum fracture not from running but from using the leg press at the gym. i was loading it to pretty crazy levels, doing 80kg each leg. and when you push with your leg at the front, your sacrum is rammed into the seat behind you. unfortunately for me, before the fracture was diagnosed i was back on the leg press (but at much lighter lights). but as for the pubic bone fractures i dont know.
    i had an xray today but will not know the result of that for a week and it may not tell me anything i dont know.
    i am suppoed to be running a 250k ultra on march the 2nd next year but havent run at all for 6 weeks. if i begin running again at the start of 2013 i wont have long to ramp it up to ultra distance.

  17. Wow, I am glad I came across this. I have been having sacrum/buttock pain for the last five weeks and not only have I not been able to run, I can barely walk. I too am 40 years old and i actually just started running in June of this year. I was more of a cyclist before that. I was doing very well until I ended up with achilles tendonitis and had to take the month of September off. I got back to running and was building up mileage (up to five miles a run three times a week) and then bam in November I felt this awful strain in my right buttock/low spine. I stopped running immediately and have not run since. It has gotten progressively worse and worse. I had xrays done but they did not show anything. Unbelievably my doctor will not schedule an mri for me. I have diagnosed osteoporosis and it really bothers me that I can’t rule out a stress fracture. She thinks I have piriformis syndrome but I don’t have any pain going down my leg at all. She wants me to do physical therapy. I can’t even get in there until January. In the meantime my pain is getting progressively worse. I have only been able to ride the stationary bike and do some weights sitting down and not bearing weight on my legs. I am at my witts end and wondering if I should get a second opinion given my history and status of osteoporosis. I am already taking loads of vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and I eat very healthy. The radiologist had commented on the xray report that my bones were unusually fragile for someone of my age. I am post surgically menopausal for the last seven years but do take hormone replacement. it is getting to wear stepping on my right leg causes me to buckle slightly. No one seems too concerned about treating my osteoporosis and I can’t seem to get anywhere with anyone. From reading everyone elses experiences here, I am almost convinced what I have is indeed a stress fracture.

  18. hi robin, i thought i was reading about myself for a moment. i am 40 and my left buttock pain stopped me walking for a while. after 5 weeks of various misdiagnosis such as sacroiliac joint dysfunction, piriformis and glute problems and a doctor refusing to refer me for an mri i finally got my own privately. and i have a fractured sacrum. but i also have smaller fractures on my pubic bones possibly caused by me switching from running to daily long and intense sessions on the exercise bike (at super fast cadence). i am waiting for results of a CT scan so that will be interesting.

  19. I am learning a lot from all your posts. Can any of you tell me whether your fractures also caused problems with sitting? Also where is you pain located in the butt. I am suspecting a similar diagnosis. Thanks!

  20. I was in a bicycle accident October 27. It took a week to get a bone scan and MRI to diagnose 2sacral ala fractures, one through the right SI and into the ilium. I have a walker that I have bonded with and I am trying to maintain my sense of humor but feel like my life is completely on hold, and I keep canceling things like upcoming, previously planned skiing and hiking trips…..not a happy camper! When does this all end?? My doc gave me a disability parking pass for 6months, I suppose that is a hint. Does ultrasound work? Can you rent a bone stimulator? I am really tired of being in pain and disabled I want my life back!

  21. Injuredrunnermarathon

    Hey,

    Great website, currently in a similar boat trained hard for a sub 2.25 marathon, was averaging 80 miles a week, 6 weeks out had pain and ache in glute, initially time off for piriformis syndrome, didn’t settle after an MRI it revealed a stress reaction in right iliac, the huge plus report said sacral is fine and no fractures. Plan is 6-8 weeks of cross training, bike, pool and focus on exercises… Any other advice, you think this is a good plan?

    • stress fracture healing

      Hey – sounds like a good plan. Definitely continue to take calcium, vitamin D at the bare minimum. Consider other smaller supplements like boron, strontium, zinc, magnesium. If you are looking to optimize the healing definitely consider those. Strontium Citrate at night 600mg – I stand by that as a huge bone builder. Let me know if you need any help!

  22. There is a very good cold laser available for under $500 called laser touch one that will help with increaseing blood flow and healing. I used it on my torn miniscus and after 3 months am able to walk 5-6 miles without pain, play golf and bike and elipticize. I’m 61. My daughter has just been diagnosed with a sacral stress fracture. She’s been cleared for swimming and yoga. Good luck to you all. Stay mentally tough and find alternatives. If you aren’t getting satisfaction with your doctor, get another opinion.

  23. I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM! I’m a basketball athlete and I was playing on the concrete and one day it just felt different not painful just different. Continued to train got worse and worse until it got extremely painful to the point of screaming in pain. Saw doctor said it was muscle rest and ice. Month later, still not healed, got an MRI, said I had cracked my sacrum and I was going to be out a while. 5 months later now still not completely healed, I can weightlift and run grassy hill sprints, but no basketball yet. I’M SO DEPRESSED with this injury I want to work hard and get better but every time I try jump shots it like swells up or something, it’s not like the pain I felt first hand, it just scares me and I cant do basketball still.

  24. Hi, I’m 35 y old. A long distance runner, for more than 15y. I did 4 marathons and some half’s.
    Recently I gave birth to my second child. During the pregnancy I kept running and swimming till the 25w ~. I stopped when it felt too heavy and then did lots of long distance walking, elliptical and swimming.
    I started to run again 4 weeks after the delivery and unfortunately “jumped” too fast to 50-60k per week fast (!) runs, in addition to long distance walking with the stroller, Brest feeding, losing weight and too few sleeping hours.
    Now I can say it wasn’t a big surprise I got a stress fracture…)-:
    Started to feel just a fine pain in my left buttock and left leg. It wasn’t a sharp pain or anything that stopped me from running. But my husband, who is resident at orthopedic surgery, didn’t “like” that weird complains and insisted on MRI scan. Actually at the same day of the MRI I had one of my best runs… just a little discomfort.
    The result of the MRI was stress fracture in my left sacrum, with incomplete fracture line. I stopped immediately to run )-:
    It was 3.5 month after the delivery.
    Since then I just swim (free style only) and this week, (3 weeks after the diagnosis) started to ride an indoor bike and do elliptical.
    I also take VitD and Calcium. Stopped breast feeding and stopped the long distance walking’s with the stroller.
    Now, 4 weeks after the results of the MRI, I don’t have any pain but DO have a weird discomfort and heaviness at the area. I really want to start running again.
    Very much depressed from that injury !!!
    I found your blog very helpful and encouraging. Felt very much alone with this till now.
    Few questions –
    I planned to do a very short and easy run this week (4k, 6min/k). 4w after I stopped running. As I mentioned before I don’t have any pain now, besides this heaviness feeling in my left buttock and leg. Do you think it is too soon??
    How did you decided it’s time to try running ?
    How did you start running again? What was the distance for the first run and how did you decided to run longer?
    Have you heard about anti-gravity treadmill running ?
    I’m really afraid to do it too fast but REALLY want to run again.

    Thank you for your blog !

  25. This blog is very informative and helpful. I am a 52y single male with 30+ years running and working out. My injury occurred 7 weeks ago. I did an intense hour of running on the treadmill and then a very intense 45 minutes on the rowing machine. The seat on this machine is hard as a rock. It was the last 5 minutes of rowing that I felt a moderate soreness on the left side of my sacrum. I finished the workout and enjoyed the rest of my day without incident. It was the next morning that the darkest, most painful and depressing period of hell began for me. When I tried to get out of bed my lower back was totally locked up. It hurt to bend over and then it was agony to stand straight again. Walking hurt, sitting hurt, everything hurt. The pain was in the lower back and would shoot into my groin, but never down my legs. I thought I had pulled a muscle or my back was out of alignment. I did 8 chiropractor treatments over several weeks with very little improvement. These treatments had always helped lower back pain in the past so it became very discouraging to me and to my chiropractor. He suggested it may be something more serious so I started researching and this injury jumped right out at me. I had all the symptoms. I have lousy insurance so I couldn’t afford to be bounced around a half dozen times by doctors misdiagnosing my condition. I have no doubt I have a stress fracture of the upper left sacral ala. It is painful to the touch in that one spot. I normally stretch for 30 minutes every morning and when the injury occurred I increased it another 30 minutes at night. Stretching was actually making the pain worse, but it took me a while to accept that and to just stop stretching. I didn’t want to miss work so there were days I was on Vicodin and muscle relaxers just to take the edge off the pain. Nothing took it away completely. My whole world became getting through a day at work and then just hitting the lazy boy. The fog of pain and narcotics made my whole life a blur. As weeks of pain went by I developed a sense of hopelessness and my depression grew. I had a permanent grimace of pain on my face. I didn’t recognize the person I saw in the mirror. I went 6 weeks without smiling or laughing. That realization was profound and I wondered if I would ever be even remotely happy again. Finally, after ceasing all physical activity for about 4 weeks, the lower back pain finally leveled off. My hips are sore and my legs feel like lead but I decided it was finally time to try some kind of physical activity. I did an hour on the treadmill 3 days ago. I mostly walked but did 8 or so 3 minute sprints and ended up going 4.4 miles. Last night I did a light upper body workout. My lower back pain is marginal, but my hips and legs are sore and walking is difficult. I started stretching again 4 days ago. Moderate stretches for 30 minutes in the morning. My hamstrings and IT bands are SO TIGHT. So far it hasn’t caused the pain to increase like it had in the beginning. Yesterday I ordered a Contour Kabooti Ring – Shaped Seating Pillow to remove pressure and stress from the sacrum when sitting. I hope it is helpful. I also ordered some USP LABS Super Cissus to help strengthen my bones because of recommendations on this blog. From all my research, this is going to be a long and painful healing process and getting back to 100% will be a real challenge. I was so active before this. Running, weightlifting, hiking, backpacking. I was an exercise fanatic, I gladly admit. It defined who I was and created my self-confidence and self-image. It is so hard to accept all those things are gone for now. It is very difficult finding anything to be happy about. The abrupt change in lifestyle and the uncertainty about whether I will EVER get back to normal are very depressing. I’ve had injuries before that put me out of commission but nothing compares to this. I needed to get this off my chest and share it with people who understand how devastating this injury is. Reading this blog was therapeutic and I did find some useful information I hadn’t come across before. I hope my story is helpful to anyone trying to come to terms with this injury. Good luck.

  26. I was just reading your post chris. im a 41 year old guy who had been running for 8 years, lots of ultra marathons and some really big weekly mileage, but it was after a very intense fartlek session on the treadmill that i developed my sacral stress fracture. i didnt even know until i got up the next day. at the time i did wonder if i had done it moving massive weights on the leg press just after the treadmill session. but as time passed i realised that was nothing to do with it, as i suspect with your rowing machine. i could barely walk and my road back was complicated. but i am back and setting PBs on my short runs. im not back to ultras yet but i am building up the miles sensibly. slightly more than the recommended 10% but i am educated now. i do a lots of core work and gym work, stretching, massages, take supplements, have a clever diet, have lost weight and cross train with a lot of cycling. i dont think of the cycling as cross training – more of a supplement to running and something i do in its own right. this all adds up to being a better, leaner, fitter, faster runner post fracture. so there is bright light at the end of the tunnel.

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