As 2018 winds down and many athletes enter the off season, I’m doing the same with a little extra emphasis on recovery.
My left foot continued to give me issues and did not seem to be improving even with months of rest. I decided it was time to get yet another opinion and look for some more aggressive approaches. I met with a doctor that does regenerative procedures and he did (another!) ultrasound examination of my foot, but he clearly knew how to read an ultrasound. The news was not good. I had a serious tear on the lateral side of my second plantar plate. It’s not a commonly diagnosed injury but the plantar plate is a deep fibrocartilaginous structure which originates from metatarsal head and attaches to the proximal phalanx through the joint capsule within the forefoot. Basically, it holds the toe in place. One of the most common symptoms of the injury is a “v” between two toes, which occurs when there is a tear on one side causing the intact side to pull the toe in that direction. Sadly, this injury is mis-diagnosed many times as a neuroma or metatarsalgia. The treatment is different for all so if you have a similar symptom and one of these diagnoses, I encourage you to get a second opinion.
The doctor wanted me to visit his surgeon to confirm that surgery is not a good option. The surgeon did confirm that surgery would likely bring on more issues and further limit my ability to run. So, the best option is a stem cell injection. As I usually do, I began to learn everything I could about stem cells, the best way to use them and how they can help heal my injury. The doctor and I discussed and decided to do a combination of adipose tissue and bone marrow stem cells. Another option would be to combine adipose tissue stem cells with the growth factors in platelet rich plasma (PRP) but there are growth factors in bone marrow plus stem cells so we decided this would be the most aggressive approach.
The procedure was not as painful as I heard it could be and everything seemed to go well. The biggest issue is that I need to be non-weight bearing for 10-14 days. Since I’m not good at staying in one place I opted for a knee scooter. Apart from my son taking it for joy rides, it’s worked out pretty well and I’ve had a good attitude about it all. The only really sad moment was when I couldn’t dance with my son at cotillion. My husband had to take my place, which was pretty cute to watch. :) I have a good recovery plan in place with the goal to start training on the Alter-G treadmill in 6 weeks as I have Boston coming up in April.
I’ve had some fun training and racing in 2018 and made the best of it with my bike, but I’m really looking forward to 2019 and running again. I may never be able to run as much as I did in the past and that’s okay. I just want to be able to run a bit and will cherish every moment that I’m able to… the good, the bad and the ugly. Here’s to those little stem cells getting the job done!