That’s a Big Needle

Have I mentioned I’ve been having some hip pain since I got back from England? I’ve been kinda quiet about it because, you know, if you don’t mention pain and especially if you ignore it then maybe it will just go away…yeah, right. After running for 2.5 hrs in Great Falls Saturday (by the way, spectacular place to run), I had to admit that I definitely had a problem. I iced the heck out of the hip for the next couple of days and tried to run on Tuesday, made it a mile and the searing pain made me turn back home. Bummer.

I did some googling and diagnosed myself with bursitis. Always a good idea to diagnose injuries yourself…NOT. Good news was it didn’t seem to be a stress fracture, the thought of which was freaking me out. So I called my trusty orthopedist Dr. Pete. Dr Pete is a runner AND triathlete…he’s even done an Ironman and said it was “fun.”  Runners and triathletes like docs who are also runners and triathletes because 1) they don’t look at us like we’re crazy when we mention that we ran in pain for oh, 13 miles; b) we can chit-chat about races and not sound like obsessed freaks; c) we’ll believe them if they say we should stop running…which they rarely do. Case in point: one time about 15 years ago I went to my husband’s orthopedist (shoulder-specialist, not a runner) who took one look at my hip x-ray and told me I must stop running immediately…something to do with wearing away my joints. Yeah, right. After that I found Dr. Pete.

Anyway, Dr. Pete did some functional/strength testing, which I passed with flying colors (yay for strength training and my PT exercises which of course I’m doing diligently)  and concurred with my diagnosis of bursitis. Then he did a hip x-ray just in case. The x-ray showed that I do indeed have hips and a ball and socket joint although the socket’s a bit shallow and that scary arthritis word was mentioned…shhhh…if I don’t say it, maybe it will never happen.

Then Dr. Pete laid out my options. 1. Surgery – not considered necessary. 2. Don’t do activity that hurts it (running) and it will eventually heal. Hmmm….didn’t like that one…reminded him I have a 50K in 3 weeks. What was behind door #3, I asked?

Of course, that would be the cortisone injection. Having never had one of these before (or even been offered one!) I was intrigued. Could this really fix my problem? I decided I was willing to find out, especially as I didn’t like the other options. I also thought it would be useful to know what a cortisone shot really feels like so I can report candidly.

Once I told Dr. Pete I was going with door #3 he wasted no time grabbing the needle and was back in a flash…wonder if he thought I might have second thoughts if he hesitated? Anyway, he found the painful spot after some poking and me realizing it would help if I said “ow, that’s where it hurts” rather than trying to be my usual stoic self. I tend not to mention something’s painful unless it’s really killing me, so I forget that it can be helpful in such instances to let the professionals know where the pain is.

Anyway, I kinda glanced over and noticed that the needle was very long. And I’m not gonna lie – it hurt. But only for a second so no need to freak out or practice the special yoga breathing, which I tend to resort to if something hurts. To be honest, what hurt more was the drive home – 30 mins with increasingly worsening hip/butt pain. Note to self – if I have to do this again take an ice pack with me…or ask for one before I leave. Once I got home I grabbed the big ice pack from the freezer and laid down with that on my hip for a while. Almost 12 hrs later, it just aches, although I’ve been told day 2 can be worse. Day 3 better not be bad because I have a race. Dr. Pete told me that was ok. 😉

Have you ever had a cortisone shot? How did it go? If not, would you get one if recommended? Is your doctor a runner/triathlete? 


  1. Thanks for sharing the info about the cortisone shot. Give us an update and let us know how you feel. I had hip bursitis in the past and it eventually just worked itself out. Hope all is healed by your 50K!

  2. That would have been my choice too. Glad you have a doc you can work well with. I did cortisone for PF one time…it hurt like a mother, I’ll tell you. And yes, a couple of days worth of pain after as well, but hopefully it will calm things down for you.
    misszippy1 recently posted..They won’t’ always get itMy Profile

  3. I would have chosen the shot too. I had one in a neuroma in my foot years ago, just before the Goofy challenge. The pain magically went away, the race went well and I have never (knock wood) had that pain again.

    Hope it works for you too!! Go Rock Annapolis!
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  4. Ow, that sounds really painful! I hope the shot works for you!
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  5. Patrick says:

    I had a cortisone shot in my left knee (anterior pain after 10+ mile runs) while rapidly transitioning from road cycling racing to marathon training. After about two days, the pain was gone form my left knee for about 6 months. This was more than long enough to complete the marathon.

    Ended up adopting a daily regimen of stretching that ultimately ‘fixed’ the issue which was quad tightness – muscles pulling the knee out of proper motion.

    I got help from the Speed Clinic at UVA and their 3D gait analysis to put the issue to rest. I certainly recommend the cortisone shot while another fix is employed. No surgery.

    • Racingtales says:

      Hey Patrick, glad to hear that worked out well. Thanks for the reminder that some strength and stretching are also required to fix these problems!

  6. After my first 1/2 that I was totally unprepared for, I started having hip pain. Everyone pre-diagnosed it as IT band issues and would give me stretches. No help. Reluctantly, went to our sports medicine place and he gave me the diagnosis for bursitis. Gave me 2 option: wait a bit and it will go away– could be a week or more, but no running or a shot and you will be running in a day. Door #2, please. He gives me a referral, but due to HMO, I had to have a referral from my PCP…so I go to there. Low and behold they can do the shot there. Awesome. Enter Dr. (now, from here on out, when the Dr speaks, you have to do it as a small little indian dude in an indian accent). “Yes, Jennifer, you have hip bursitis, why?” “I ran a 1/2 marathon this weekend” “why would you do that?” “no good reason, just wanted to try, so what are my options” “I can give you shot, get undressed and I will come do it” In comes aid and she lays me on the table and stands there. Really? Then he comes in “I am going to ice it” (thinking, ice, ok, I do that and then he sprays REALLY cold crap on my hip) “Are you numb” “I hope so” Enter shot “it will feel a bit oozy, I hope, does it feel oozy”…”uh sure doc”…Gets done with shot and tells me to get dressed.

    “Jennifer, let me show you something funny– HOLDS UP BIG ASS NEEDLE— hahahahah, bet you wont try this again”

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? That sucker was LONG!!!

    Running again in 2 days, and have another half coming up. Please dear lord, no more bursitis!!!!
    Running, Our Way recently posted..Diva BoundMy Profile

    • Racingtales says:

      Oh my that’s so funny, I’m laughing out loud! BTW, I didn’t get offered cold crap before I got the shot. 😉

  7. Sorry you’ve had to deal with that! I hope it helps! This post terrified me. I hate needles. I would have asked for laughing gas.
    Alyssa recently posted..Triathlons are scaryMy Profile

  8. Oh wow those needles are big. Seems like surgeons are always trigger happy with the world surgery. I just found out ankle arthritis will be in my future.
    Amber recently posted..Where Did You Go?My Profile


  1. […] looking forward to it. First, it was getting in the way of my 50K training. (Mind you, so was the hip…) Second, I felt very unprepared for a sprint tri as I hadn’t practiced transitions and […]

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