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hip pinning

Hip Pinning Recovery! Read this!

Preface: This is, in a nutshell, my broken hip story, start to “finish”. I get tons of clicks on the blog from folks googling hip pinning and recovery and recovery times and etc. Read this if you want my whole story about how long it took me to get back running. (Yes, googler, this means you! Feel free to comment or email me via the links on the page if you’d like more info or just to talk about your injury)
        Not every day is a good day, there are days when it gives me a fit. I have “phantom pains” frequently. I don’t really know how to explain them, other than to say they are infrequent and not severe, and if they do hurt badly it doesn’t last long. Most days are uneventful, I get up go running and then go to work. I still do my old factory work job, no problems there, but I do notice it a little more quickly when steel toe boots need to be replaced. I seem to get more pains when they’ve gotten worn down.

      I think my original problem was a stress fracture  that was a result of bad bad form running (more like sprinting) on a downhill. I just pounded it out, and I really truly believe that’s where my problem started, even though I didn’t experience any pain for a week or more afterwards. I’m not yet as fast as I was before I broke my hip, but I also haven’t pushed the envelope as hard as before either.  Even now on a steep downhill I will catch myself not opening up my stride, I fight the hill. I won’t let myself break loose anymore.

     As of this post, it’s been 4 years since the surgery; and I’m doing great! I’ve ran 2 half marathons this year (2015) and have a full marathon coming up in May of 2015. 

     This was written as an entry for an award for the Martinsville 1/2 Marathon in 2011, and is formatted as such. I wasn’t writing this for an essay or for a blog post, it was an email to the race director personally. He had been after me to tell my story since he first heard about it. I kept postponing it, I didn’t think I deserved an award for being a fool running a race.  At any rate, I submitted it, and won. Go figure.

Click around some here on the blog to read more about the recovery and training and current schedules for running and racing.

Here’s my story–

Back last October, I caught the distance bug. I ran my first half marathon. It was the Cannonball Run Race in Greensboro NC. I had a pretty good race, I finished 78th out of 418 runners with a time of 1hour 45 minutes. I decided that for my next half (which would have been my hometown half, here in Danville VA) I would train harder and do better. I got up to running a 13 mile long run every week between the Cannonball Run and the Danville Half. Then 3 days before the race I felt a small twinge of pain in my right hip after a pretty hard 4 mile run to shake the nervousness about the upcoming race on Saturday. I shook it off as an improperly stretched muscle, and went ahead with the race.

Saturday morning started off like any other race day. Up at the crack of dawn, can’t eat like I know I should, general race jitters. I warm up, no pain. The gun goes off–I took off in the lead pack. I was in 5th place when the pain set back in. It was before I hit the first mile marker. I kept on trucking it, promising myself a couple weeks rest after this race. Just finish this race strong. (I was gunning for a sub 1:35 time). By the third mile, my smile was gone, but the hip pain wasn’t strong enough to slow me down.

Somewhere between mile 5 and 6 I stopped for the first time, on the race course, and did a hip abductor stretch. Confident it’s a muscle cramp, I get up and keep going. Up until this point, I was well on my way to reaching my goal time. But it was all downhill for my race from that point. I slowed from 7 minute miles to 10 minute miles. I came limping/walking/hopping through the 6 mile water stop. It was in a big parking lot. I remember 3 or 4 people on the sideline encouraging me to throw in the towel. I can remember one guy above the rest saying “A DNF today is better than 6 months of no racing because you finished”. I wanted to finish. I was 36 minutes into the race at the 5 mile point. I told myself, even walking, I can beat the 3 hour course time limit. I kept reminding myself of the Chilean miner who had just finished the NYC marathon like a week before, with a messed up knee. I told myself that if he can run a few miles a day in a mine for 3 months and still run a marathon, my gosh I can finish this half no matter what.

Up the only major hill in the Danville course I went. Man let me tell ya, that hill is ROUGH. On the way up, one of the course volunteers on a bicycle stopped me and asked if I was ok. I said yes, it’s just a muscle crap in my hip. He offered first aid. I took an ice pack and kept going. A mile later, I see him again. This time, I was in substantially more pain. I’m not running anymore, more of a hop/walk trying to make progress. My last mile lap time was 16 minutes and some change. This time I took an advil and another ice pack. I’m confident again that I can finish now that I’ve taken something to help ease the pain. I try to run. Just like the last few times I stopped and started again, it hurts worse to start back up. I trot maybe 100 yards. I’m finally contemplating quitting. But then I saw the 8 mile marker. I can go that far! I know I can! I run. it’s painful to a degree I haven’t experienced before. I stop to stretch.

By this time, most of the racers have passed me by, and most of what’s left are the “I’m going to finish this darn thing no matter what” crowd. –that’s an awesome crowd to be in, by the way. They’re friendly, non-competitive, very talkative, and encouraging. A familiar voice calls my name, it’s a friend I met at an earlier race. She asks am I ok. I say no. She offered me water while another lady beside her helped me off the ground. The lady with her promptly threw her arm around me and said–“My race doesn’t matter. I’ll finish with you”

And we walked. I used her for a crutch. I made it less than a tenth of a mile past that 8 mile marker. I collapsed on the ground. I was fortunate enough not to have to stay there long, a Danville city police officer happened to be coming down the road at about that time. They flagged him down for me, helped me hobble into his patrol car, and he gave me a ride back to the start of the race.

At the start/finish line, the crowd I should have finished with was just arriving. Two guys carried me to a massage table, per my request, to try to massage out this awful awful muscle cramp. 20 minutes later, I’m still no better.

That’s when my wife decided it was time to go the doctor. I was extremely reluctant, but she insisted. We went to Primecare where the doctor did an x-ray and decided it was a broken hip. I argue with him and tell him he’s nuts. He sends me to the ER to have an MRI done of the leg to be certain, and while I’m still waiting for results from that, they start admitting me to the ER for surgery. I still didn’t have a clue what was going on.

They operated that night, putting 3 pins in my hip. When asking the doctor about returning to work and running, he said 4-6 weeks before working, and 6+ months before running again. Well turns out he was wrong on both. It took 8 weeks of crutches, then a cane, then walking on my own before I could get back to work. But when I finally got there, I was still hurting some. I do factory work, so I had to be on my feet for 8 hours 6 days a week on concrete. I was really tough those first few days or a week.

Then the last week of January, 3 months after surgery, he said he wanted me to start running. Slow, short distances, but to start. 3 miles, 3 times a week for the first two weeks was all I was allowed. That left me with 6 weeks to get back into shape for the Martinsville half.

I searched the internet, and found an 8 week training plan that I thought I could pull off to get ready. It’s has me running 3 times a week, two short and a long run. This week is my longest week; the schedule has me down for two 5 mile runs and a 10 miler on Sunday. Being one to push my luck a little, I did 7 yesterday, and will race a 5k tomorrow, then run somewhere between 10-12 miles Sunday depending on how I feel. I actually plan to come to Martinsville to try and get a sneak peak of the course on Sunday.

Pitiful I am not. Sympathy isn’t what I want. Don’t feel sorry for me, please. Even on crutches and a cane, I did as much as humanly possible alone. It was a challenge then. Running seems easy in comparison. It comes a little more naturally.

But that’s my story. On day 133 after breaking my hip, I will return to running the race distance that broke me. This time, I will beat it.

“You will run. You will finish. It will be good” –Running Mantra

–Patrick T



9 thoughts on “Hip Pinning Recovery! Read this!

  1. Hi Patrick,

    Thanksgiving morning 2011 i was running a 5k and a few days later on my next run i noticed a sharp pain in my hip. Long story short and a few doctors and MRIs later i’ve been diagnosed with a stress fracture close to my femural head. I believe i did it running hills as well (and I’m 50 so i’m sure that doesnt help). From what the Ortho surgeons have told me its a very common running injury.

    I saw a surgeon in December who suggested trying to let it heal on its own, get a 2nd MRI in March and compare that with the first MRI, then decide where we are. This has been the most depressing, most painful injury. its not healing and i’ll likely need surgery. i’m hoping i can run by the end of the year, if not at least walk a few miles with out the assistance of a cane or crutches. i worry about getting back the my fitness level before this happened. i was up to 7 miles 4 times a week at about 9 minute miles. not great, but i was improving.

    I hope youre feeling better soon. I’m going to follow your blog and see how youre doing.


    Posted by Heidi Carrens | February 16, 2012, 4:57 pm
    • Heidi–
      I’m very sorry to hear your misfortune. Surgery isn’t so bad, I promise. I was fortunate not to have to hobble around for months at a time like you are, I ran thru it at first and completely broke my femoral neck right off the bat, leaving no option but to immediately operate.

      I have no doubt that if you had surgery in March (let’s say) you’ll be without crutches and walking by the end of the year. Very likely to even be running again.
      As far as speed goes, you’ll get it back, but everyone is different in regards to how long it takes to regain that speed.

      Let me know how it goes and what the MD says about surgery!


      Posted by Patrick | February 16, 2012, 10:05 pm
  2. So glad I found your blog. I am 11 days post op on a hip pinning to my femoral head. I am a 41 year old female runner and just completed my first half marathon in October 2011 and was currently training for my first marathon this May 2012. Unfortunately, pain came to my hip and ended my training . After3 weeks time off, ice and anti-inflammatory advil and not much change I saw an ortho, had my mri and the results showed two stress fractures in my femoral neck…one fairly deep hence the surgery. Post surgery has been harder than I thought it would be. Mostly the soft tissue and muscle tightness that leaves me with limited range of motion. I am stretching everyday hoping that over the next few weeks I will feel the difference. I am down to one crutch which feels positive even though I am moving quite slowly and feel very week in strength on the operated hip. I guess it is better than the 12 weeks no weight bearing and on crutches if I had opted out of surgery. I relish in the day I can get back on my running feet. How soon after surgery did you get your first run in? Or even your first bike ride….my muscle tightness will not even let me do a full rotation on a stationary bike…I know it is still soon after the surgery but I am inevitably inpatient!!

    Posted by beth | March 24, 2012, 10:21 pm
  3. Thank you for posting your story. I’m on day 14 after hip pinning surgery. Today has been, probably the most difficult day emotionally. I went from being a person without enough hours in the day (Running a home business, going to school and working a full time position plus my Mother has been ill and in a nursing home this year on top of training for a run in May) to what feels like a complete stand still. Just the thought of being incapable of walking on my own or driving for several more months makes me want to break down. No summer classes ( I had to cancel them), all that training time lost, I can’t get to my Mother, My home business is photography so that’s virtually closed for any appointments. My husband has to pick up where I can’t in the garden, taking care of goats, etc.UGH.
    I do return to my work this week because I can stay seated in my position so I’m hoping that will help by getting me out of the house.
    I started to cry as I read your story… The guy that said a “A DNF today is better than 6 months of no racing because you finished” really got to me because there’s NO WAY I would of kept running if I would of had any idea that the reason I hurt so bad was a stress fracture. I would of gotten a substitute for our race (It was a relay – DWD Gnawbone).
    I, like you, didn’t realize I had a stress fracture. I was in a considerable amount of pain for about 6 weeks before my race. At first I thought it was pulled muscles so I rotated ice and heat, got a deep tissue massage… nothing worked, but I hadn’t stopped running either. I went to my chiropractor and he told me I had a pinched sciatic nerve. I ran my PR 5K the Sunday before the race. It hurt like hell, but there’s not much you can do for a pinched nerve so I ran through it. I actually told everyone that was concerned about the race “I’m not going to do any permanent damage. It’s just going to hurt.” I started the race believing that. Even when I could barely walk and runners were checking on me to see if I needed aide I told them it’s just an pinched nerve. I stopped several times to “stretch it out” and eventually ended up using a tree limb cane and then I reached a point where I couldn’t straighten my leg or put any weight on it without screaming. I thought maybe it was dislocated. I told my dear friend I would go to a hospital after I saw our team finish, which I did. I was surprised to find out it was fractured and separated.
    Again thank you and those who posted replies… I guess I needed a reminder today that this is not forever. Normally I am the “look at the positives” kind of gal and I’ve been pretty good at that the whole time, but today… I am really thankful for your posts.

    Posted by tcmers | May 28, 2012, 2:56 pm
  4. Hi patrick,

    very useful info. I had fallen in my hotel and sufferibg from hip fracture in this year may 17th and got surgery done on 18th may. Doctor placed 3 screws in my hip and as of now am on bed rest and completed 5 weeks.

    Any tips or advice you can give?

    Have you started going to work immly after 8 weeks? Pls confirm.

    raghavendra, india

    Posted by raghav | June 19, 2012, 5:20 am
  5. Hey Pat ~ Thanks for sharing your story. I was diagnosed with a femoral neck stress fracture that quickly turned into a full displaced break and needed emergency surgery about a week ago. I’m in bed much of the day and in recovery now. Its really frustrating, after averaging about 40 miles/week all year I feel like a chained up animal. Its a painful and frustrating injury, but I know that with patience and perseverance I will overcome it. Your story gave me encouragement. I won’t be able to participate in the October Marathon I was registered for this year, but I plan to crush it next year 🙂 Keep on running and enjoy each mile for me.

    Posted by Melissa | June 19, 2012, 3:40 pm
  6. Wow!! Your story almost completely mirrors my hip fracture except it took a bit longer to realize I had a broken hip. My fracture (I suspect) completed at about mile 8, but it was the most grueling and painful limping walk to the finish of my life. My main difference is that I never imagined it was a broken hip, went to a sports therapist who overlooked that and FINALLY went to a sports medicine doctor after 4 weeks on crutches and no improvement. Needless to say they had me in surgery early that next morning. Mine was also a stress fracture turned full break due to overtraining on hills and hard surfaces. The doctors main cause for surprise…I was a healthy 29 year old female. The surgeons youngest hip patient. I later found out I also have bone density loss in my hips. Will probably never run marathons again, but I will never quit running. As you know…its a passion that only runners understand.

    Side note: Get the random pains. :/ Doctor told me it would probably be for the rest of my life. Do you ever get sore in that hip after strenuous exercise? Considered getting the pins removed?

    Nicole R.

    Posted by Nicole | June 22, 2012, 7:18 pm
  7. Patrick,
    Do you still have pain in your hip now when you run on the road? I had hip surgery a year & a half ago because of a stress fracture in my right hip because of running. Also because my left leg is almost an inch longer than my right leg. When I got the clearance to run again, I found it painful in my hip to run on the road, but not on the treadmill. It’s strange how certain surfaces make my hip hurt worse then others. I had a titanium rod and screw placed in my hip and have days where it just aches. I have had several shots of cortisone which help for a little while.

    Sumter, SC

    Posted by Kim Ann Wright | July 11, 2012, 11:39 am
  8. It is so nice to read a positive story about coming back from a hip fracture. I am 41 and have been running for 3 years. While training for a 10k, I noticed a pain in my hip area that I attributed to a pulled hip flexor. I decided to “suck it up” and run through the pain because I did not want to fall back in my training. After three weeks and no improvement, I began searching for a self diagnosis and solution. I read that muscle pains will likely disappear while running because of the adrenalin but pain from a broken bone will not. I made the earliest appointment with an orthopedist that I could (it was 2 1/2 weeks later) and continued to try to do short jogs.

    After missing the race, I went to the orthopedist. She examined me and gave me an xray. She said she saw a little bit of “lucidity” on the xray and ordered an MRI. I then got an urgent call while I was at work from the orthopedist that I needed to immediately get to the hospital for emergency surgury. My femoral neck had several fractures on the inside, weight bearing portion. The surgeon (who is known for being extremely conservative with surgery) explained to me that while bed rest for three months or more might allow this to heal on its own, he strongly recommended surgery (three hip pins) as there was a possibility that after the three months, I would still need the surgery. He said that if the fracture was on the other side of the femoral neck, I would not have to have the surgery and instead be on bed rest for a month.

    I am now two weeks post op and I stopped using the walker I was given around two days after the surgery. I am have had physical therapy four times and he advised me that my recovery is impressive and I should start going on very short walks on my block.

    The doctor had advised me that I will not be allowed to run for two months to allow the fracture to heal. I have been searching the internet for similar situations to see what I could expect but I have not seen anyone with a recovery like mine. I am walking with a slight limp and walk up the stairs with a little “hitch” on my bad side. I think I could do even better but my main problem will be my lack of confidence in my body now. I worry about every little pain and the thought of actually running scares me tremendously. I just keep thinking about what could have happened to me when I was out running with the fracture (most times I didnt have my cell phone with me). The doc had told me if I kept running (or even walking) the fracture would have cracked through the bone and displaced. Getting over these gruesome thoughts and the fear is going to be a big challenge for me.

    I am glad to know that you appear to be back to normal and I am sooooo looking forward to being back where I was. Good luck to you and thank you for writing this informative blog!

    Posted by Shari | October 14, 2012, 8:21 am

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