It looks like I will be getting a shot.
Cathy (my physical therapist) yesterday referred me to a physiatrist. I had never heard of this medical specialty before; it's an orthopedic MD who specializes in non-surgical solutions to bone and joint issues. Today, I had an appointment with the physiatrist's physician's assistant, Jim. He listened to my long boring tale of back woe, looked me over and said I had done all the right things by trying PT, core work, ice, and ibuprofen courses--but that at this point I am definitely a candidate for a steroid injection. What started out as a sacro-iliac joint issue, he says, has caused chronic inflammation around my lumbar vertebrae. The injection should bring that down.
First, though, I have to have an MRI to confirm his diagnosis, rule out cancer and other unlikely problems that a shot wouldn't help, and also to reveal exactly where my inflammation is. That MRI is scheduled for Friday. The physiatrist, who will be the one to administer the shot, is on vacation for two weeks, so we're looking into August for the shot itself. (I shared all this info with Darren, and once again felt so glad I had hired him.I'll apparently have to take a week off of intense exercise after the shot. I'm hoping Darren can bring me back fast from that. I hate the idea of taking even seven days off!!)
Jim, the physician's assistant, happily, is pro running. He says running is actually not bad at all on its own for my kind of back problem. And he thinks as long as I keep my core strong (and you can bet I'm committed to that--Pilates forever!), I'm likely to be one of those people who doesn't show up again in five months needing another shot.
Fingers crossed that he's right!
On Darren's advice, I'm also going to see an ART (active release therapy) guy next week to deal with my recalcitrant right hamstring, which has been needling at me just a tiny bit for a couple of weeks now. Darren wants NO hamstring issues as we move into real training. And now that I know the prognosis for my back, I'm ready to deal with the hamstring, too.
Though I'm SO grateful to live in a place like Boulder, where sports injuries are taken seriously and there are plenty of skilled doctors, PTs and alternative practitioners around, I will say I'll be glad to move on to a few months with no doctor visits, no co-pays, no trying to fit appointments in between my job and my family obligations. I just want to work, raise my kids, enjoy my husband....and run.
It's time to get healthy!