Hamstring Surgery – Because There Are No Other Options Left



Plain and simple – I’m a gal that likes options.

Ask Mark. After being together from over 20 years, he can attest that something as simple as choosing a restaurant is hard. I usually want to try a new restaurant. He has certain “favorites”. This has led to some hungry/stressful decisions that have sometimes give us a meal we would rather forget.

Google led me to the following definition for CHOICE as I was creating this blog post –

Choice – an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.

It might be hard to believe but, choice has been a big part of my life this Summer. Not in terms of many of my life choices (PSA – people please wear your masks and practice social distancing) but in terms of running.

Since May the hamstring strain was a tear. For years I have had right hamstring problems (thanks Instagram memories for reminding me). I think, however, that the full damage was done during my 2nd Mckirdy Mile time trial in May.

McKirdy Mile #2

The Tear & Treatment

Thinking I was only dealing with a strain I continued to hobble through my daily 6 mile run. After the MRI confirmed the tear I stopped running because 1) I wanted to try and “heal thy hamstring” 2) There were no races and 3) It hurt too dang much.

The Tear

My orthopedic gave me several options – all of which I tried.

First was physical therapy but after my tear diagnosis I knew that I could do my PT exercises at home.  Going to PT would help but not soon after I left to drive home my hamstring would seize up – not fun.

Biking has kept me sane this Summer.

Second I had a cortisone shot injected via fluoroscopic directly into my hamstring – it did not hurt but it did not help either.  I knew that the cortisone shot was more palliative than curative, but after two weeks of no relief I knew that it did not work. Exercise during this time consisted of core work, PT, and daily bike rides (which have saved my sanity this summer).

Making sure everything is injected correctly.

I went back after 3 weeks and my orthopedic said that giving me another shot would not help, so I made the decision to have a PRP (Platelet Right Plasma) injection. My health insurance did not cover this injectcion BUT I had read positive results about treatment of athletes with high (proximal) hamstring tendon injuries. By injecting your own platelets into the hamstring, an inflammation response is elicited to start the healing process. I was told to not exercise for 3 weeks but at this point i was willing to try anything

Hitting the sweet spot

Three weeks of no exercise was tough (I did a lot of gentle walking) but again after 3 weeks not a shred of relief.

Back to the orthopedic at the end of the month I went. He took one look at me and pretty much knew that I had made no improve.

What’s Next – Hamstring Surgery

So dear readers I was left with 2 options – live with the tear or have hamstring surgery,. For me it was not even an option because at this point my injury has affected my activities of daily living. I would love to run again (really that is my ultimate goal) BUT not even being able to sit down for short periods of time without being in pain is no way to live. As Mark said- do you really want to go through the rest of your life feeling like this.

Definitely Not!

I DO feel that my body has failed me. I have done everything that others have done to heal and have not gotten the same result. How I feel now is how I felt in May. BUT as my husband aka running czar has told me time and time again – I had to AT LEAST try every option available to me. I can at least take comfort in that going into surgery.

So yes I am having hamstring surgery – specifically I am having proxmimal hamstring surgery repair on September 29th. The surgeon who performed the labral repair on my left hamstring 3 years earlier will be (hopefully) fixing me again.

Recovery and Beyond

After surgery I will be in a hip immobilizer for 4-6 w. (Please send your reading and TV suggestions). Within that ti me period I will hopefully be able to start physical therapy.

I have read up on recovery times for this type of surgery and it is pretty lengthy but luckily I don’t have anything planned for the foreseeable future. I also know that my surgeon is very cautious, which I know will only with a successful recovery.

So until September 29th I have been trying to remain active and enjoy what remains of the Summer.

Summer Fun!

Some days I feel great, but those are then ones where I am not sitting for long periods of time. I think to myself that I have “healed thy hamstring” only to quickly change my mind after sitting for any length of time.

I would say that I am cautiously optimistic that surgery will help (and I really really hope it does) BUT I have been so let down this Summer that I think at this point I am going to hope for the best and see what happens.

Onward we go—to surgery!

3 Comments


  1. Thank you for sharing your journey. I just found out yesterday I will have to have this surgery. It’s been 3 weeks since my injury, 2 weeks of physical therapy that has been I’ll effective and then finally the MRI results. I had my MRI Saturday and Tuesday they called and wanted to see me right away for the results. My orthopedic put an urgent on the request for scheduling an appointment with the surgeon and I received a call for scheduling by the end of the day and my appointment is in 4 days.
    While I greatly appreciate your story of recovery I found it lacking details of those first few weeks. I like to know what to expect moreso. Do you need constant care those first few weeks? Help getting up? What exactly did you need or have in your recovery room to make things easier? Does the hip brace keep your leg bent or do you have to focus on doing so? Should I plan to take 2 solid weeks off work? Can I drive within 2 weeks? I can’t take more than 2 weeks. How long do you have to wear the hip brace?
    You mentioned not being able to sit up, were you laying in bed the whole time? My bed is low and spare bedroom had a high mattress. Which would be easier? Many questions I have yes, but you lacked being real specific in some areas.
    Thanks you for any response.
    Stephanie

    Reply

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      Thank you for reaching out.

      I am sorry that you are going through a similar situation and hopefully the surgery will be successful.

      To give you a little more detail. The first 6 weeks after my surgery I was in our 2nd bedroom because my regular bed was too far off the ground. The 2nd bedroom bed was lower to the ground and I could pivot and swivel off it and crutch my way to the bathroom and eventually (only after the first 2 weeks) down to the first floor. I am a pretty independent person so it was hard to have to have a lot of help from my husband in terms of cooking and cleaning. Before my surgery I did left out a bunch of matching clothes so it would be easier for him (and me to grab clothes without having to bend over. Doing everything at first is going to take some getting used to – especially the bathroom and showering – not waiting to put too much weight on that side takes some practice.

      In my room I had everything I needed in a night stand next to me (deodorant/snacks/lip balm/computer/body wipes/toiletry bag/books). I bought a grabber which was a life saver for whenever I dropped something. I also bought a small computer lap desk so that I could work from home once I returned to work. I did take about 2 weeks off which was needed as I adjusted and healed. You will be tired and sore so just roll with it.

      I was in my brace for 6 weeks and did not drive until at least 12 weeks post op – and then it was only to PT and back. The brace went up to my rib cage and I kept it on all the time for about the first 4 weeks. After that I was able to remove it at PT and sometimes during the day. The brace definitely made it hard to sit up so I was in a laying position unless I got up from bed. Even after I was “free” from the brace I still had to be on crutches until December. I was not cleared to ride a stationary bike until 12/16. I did not start running again until Feb 2021

      My surgeon was very conservative and now 11 months post op I truly appreciate it. You will definitely have peaks and valleys in your recovery as you work to regain you strength but don’t lose hope. It was a tough go but i am glad I had the surgery. The pain that I experienced not only from running but from just sitting down or driving was getting excruciating and from a quality of life perspective it was necessary.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions, I am more than happy to share my knowledge.

      Anne C.

      Reply

  2. Anne thank you so much for the reply. It was very helpful. I’m independent as well and your plan seems close to what I’ve been thinking about. Preparing a room and making sure the space works for everyone. Putting clothes out. Ingenious. I had not thought of that. I also saw where you mentioned rip away pants and I’ve already ordered a couple pair from Amazon.
    The brace. Yikes that is my anxiety. To have to wear it so long. I have my left leg injured so hopeful I’ll be driving sooner.
    I’ve ruptured my hamstring tendons and they will be reattaching to the bone.
    You mentioned having the hip brace on for 4 weeks. Does it have to be removed for bathroom breaks?
    Again thanks for your insight. I have my surgical consultation on Thursday and I know I will get a lot of these answers but it is really good to be prepared ahead of time and has provoked some questions for my surgeon.
    Thanks
    Steph

    Reply

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