Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tinkering with Plantar Fasciitis.

This might not fall under the category of tinkering, but that's exactly what I've done for the past two years, trying to get my feet to "work right".

I'm not going to go into what plantar fasciitis is. If you've heard of it, that's probably because you have it. Otherwise, if your feet burn with pain when they hit the floor first thing in the morning, you probably have it. If your feet seem to "tighten up" when you sit still for more than a few minutes, you probably are a PF sufferer. There are a million resources out there that will tell you what it is, and a million more that will tell you how to cure it. People get varying results with different methods of treatment. I didn't have success with any of them. Here's what I tried:

Cortisone shots to the heel - Just as painful as it sounds. Helped for a few days, but eventually, these actually made it worse in the long term...I've read you aren't supposed to have more than three of these over the course of a year, as it can cause fat tissue damage. I had two in two months, and my PF became worse than ever. I didn't visit the podiatrist after that.

Insoles - I used Powerstep Pinnacle insoles. They helped a lot, but I didn't get the full relief that many report. I still use the insoles in all of my shoes.

Night Splint - This thing was big, heavy, and hard to put on. It almost entirely prevented sleep, and was too expensive to get one for each foot. I even combined this with crutches to entirely rest a foot for nearly four weeks, with no results. Talk about a waste of time!

Heel Cups - These did help for a while. I got them before a weekend where I had to be on my feet for a long period of time. Even after that weekend, I started walking in them and my feet felt great. But, as time wore on, the relief wore off. Pretty soon, my feet were back to normal...i.e., painful.

Taping - Taping helped transfer the stress from my heel to my Achilles tendon. Therefore, after a while, my Achilles tendon started to hurt, too. Less aggressive taping helped alleviate it somewhat, but it also reduced the amount of relief.

Ibuprofen Cream - Helped for an hour. Couldn't stop every hour at work to reapply, and probably wouldn't be good for me if I did.

Ibuprofen Tablets - Helped, but pretty soon, I began having sleepless nights and symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. Stopping the oral Ibuprofen cured that, but left me with sore feet again.

Icing - I read that the best way to apply ice was to freeze a water bottle and roll that under your feet, pressing hard to stretch the plantar fascia. Helped while doing it, and helped for a little while afterward. But soon, the pain returned as always.

Finally, I talked to a friend of mine at work. He had PF and had been taking a strong anti-inflammatory called Diclofenac (Voltaren) for some time with great success. About that same time, I saw an article about a fellow who wrapped duct tape fairly tightly around the middle of his foot, and he claimed that it cured his PF.

Well, duct tape wasn't adjustable once you applied it, and it tended to leave a residue on my socks. So, I took a pair of elastic velcro straps from yet another set of night splints and wrapped them around my feet as shown in the picture.

And, I asked my doctor to prescribe Diclofenac. Once I was doing both, the pain of my PF greatly diminshed. It is now to the point where I don't even notice it most of the time.

I'm up to walking a mile a day now without trouble. I'm also starting to lose weight, which helps too.

Keep in mind, I'm not cured yet. If I stop the Diclofenac, or the wrapping, or both, my pain increases. I know I have to keep doing this, but I don't mind, because at least I can do SOMETHING. And hopefully, continued weight loss will make a long term difference.

If you have PF you've tried everything, I suggest you give both of these techniques a try. I don't know where you could get the elastic straps, but in a pinch, an Ace bandage wrapped several times would probably do the trick.

Let me know if this works for you.

EDIT: I got a new pair of shoes, which I wore without the Powerstep Pinnacle insoles in them. Guess what? My heel pain returned. So, it seems that the insoles contribute to the relief as well. Time to order a new pair.

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