John's Story

UH Orthopedist Helps Heal Runner's Hip Fracture; Patient Runs His First Marathon

John's StoryWe all know that exercise is beneficial. It's good for your cardiovascular health; helps maintain a healthy weight and even improves mental well-being. But you can also overdo it and injure yourself. That's what happened to 23-year-old John Dickens.

An athlete in both high school and college, John used distance running as a means of training for those sports. After he graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in June 2014, he started running more seriously.

"This spring, I was training for a marathon," said John. "I began upping my miles during my last quarter and really pushed myself." He continued, "That's when I started to have sharp pain in my right hip."

Originally from the Chicago area, John moved to Cleveland after graduation to take a job as a chemist with a local manufacturing company. He continued to run, but the pain didn’t subside. It even got to the point where he was having difficulty walking. He knew it was time to see a physician.

“I was aware that University Hospitals has a great reputation in Northeast Ohio, so I called their patient support line and asked for a recommendation for an orthopedist near me,” said John. “They recommended Dr. Cupp.” Sean Cupp, MD, is Co-Director of Sports Medicine at UH and Lead Medical Physician for the Cleveland Browns, as well as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Sports Medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

John describes Dr. Cupp as “very friendly and casual in a good way.” He continued, “It never felt like he was talking down to me.”

John's StoryWhen an X-ray of John’s hip came back normal, Dr. Cupp ordered an MRI. The MRI revealed a stress fracture of the pelvis. “The fracture was so small that it could not be seen on an X-ray,” said Dr. Cupp. “It’s rare for someone of John’s age and gender to have this condition.”

Because the fracture was located in a place that held the risk of becoming worse with overuse, Dr. Cupp requested that John stop all exercise for eight weeks. He also prescribed a high dose of vitamin D to help with bone healing.

Every few weeks for two-and-a-half months, John met with Dr. Cupp at his office at University Hospitals Westlake Health Center. There, Dr. Cupp performed various tests to check on John’s mobility and strength as his pelvis healed. “The pain I had felt while training for the marathon disappeared,” said John. After an eight-week period of rest, John began cross-training, but kept his routine low-impact, such as swimming and riding a stationary bike.

Dr. Cupp gave John the all-clear to resume his training the weekend of July 4. With no more pain, he was able to successfully complete the Chicago Marathon – his first marathon – that fall.

“I’m really happy with the care I received from Dr. Cupp and UH,” said John. “I have a tendency to downplay my injuries and then make them worse.” He continued, “Dr. Cupp was very good about keeping me informed of my progress and making sure that didn’t happen.”

To learn more about the Division of Sports Medicine, Department of Orthopaedics at UH, please visit For an appointment with Dr. Cupp or any of the sports medicine specialists at UH, please call 216-983-PLAY (7529).

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