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Help with Psychological effects of PF

Posted by Dave on 5/14/98 at 13:22 (000143)

While it's exciting to read all the success stories of people who have tried different things to relieve their pain, no one seems to talk about the kind of long-term psychological damage this injury can cause.

I was disgnosed--if one can even be sure of that--with PF in my right foot in January and followed the usual conservative regimen: no running for three weeks, then orthodics, then three more weeks of walking and stretching, then a few short runs of about two miles a week for two weeks, more pain, an orthotech walker an no running for two more weeks, and now I'm in a cast and hobbling around on crutches. The cast comes off next Saturday. If that fails, then it's the knife.

Running is my great stress relief, time to ease off the brain, get physical, boost my self-esteem in the summer months by shedding a few pounds. I'm no super-marathoner (I've run six in four years, averaging about 35 miles a week), finishing around 4:30 with the other slugs. I haven't missed more than two weeks in the past five years. I haven't run a step since January and I feel like I'm going crazy. I've supplemented running with biking, weights and swimming, but in the end they're cheap substitutes. And now that I'm on crutches I'm almost totally immobile.

What's most frustraing about this injury is that, despite all the postings and proclomations by wise and seasoned doctors and patients here, the cure remains elusive. Some days it hurts more than others, and the pain varies in severity and location. Laying off it for all these months seems to have eased the pain a bit, but I can't be sure. X-rays and MRI tests came back negative, but my doctor quickly added that they can miss things. IT could be a tear which, I am told, must be repaired surgically. So, in other words, X-rays and MRIs are totally worthless. It's a frustrating feeling, diminished hopes, helplessness. My doctor keeps telling me to try everything short of surgery first. I know he's probably right to play it safe, but some days I want to storm into his office and DEMAND he fix it NOW.

I don't mind the long recovery period; what I mind is not knowing whether I'm getting any better. I've already written off my running season this summer and I'm starting to feel like I'll never run again. Doctors seem to forget that HUMAN BEINGS are attached to the feet they treat, and that the loss of mobility can be a crippling experience--physically and otherwise. All too often they nod and give you that 'I feel your pain' look, then hop into their car and drive home to play tennis.

Has anyone experienced similar feelings? And how did you overcome them? I'm at my wit's end.

Re: Help with Psychological effects of PF

Annette on 5/14/98 at 15:24 (000144)

The psychological toll can be ENORMOUS! Especially with unsympathetic doctors. The best thing to do psychologically is to be DETERMINEED that you are going to beat this thing. You are in a war and you are going to win and NOTHING is going to stop you. 4 months is not very long to have PF. It may take you a year to get better but do not dispair! Try everything and anything recommended on these sites. Try nutritional supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin and calcium, magnesium and zinc. Try to get better by appliances like orthotics,
massage, stretching, physical therapy etc. If you are not satisfied with your doctor see another one. Maybe you might not be able to run for a while. Can you tolerate fast or power walking? When you get off the cast see what exercise you can tolerate. Low impact aerobics?
Maybe not what you are used to but it's at least something. You may never be totally pain free again. Can you tolerate some pain? Don't ever give up fighting to get better. Have surgery ONLY after a year or more of no improvement. Doctors kept telling me to go back to the psychiatrist because the pain was 'in my head' BS! I said screw them and kept fighting! I still have some pain but I am GREATLY improved.
It was a combination of trying several things.
The glucosamine and chondroitin helping the most. Give them a try. They are not cheap, but surely worth a try! Good luck!

Re: Help with Psychological effects of PF

LindaG on 5/14/98 at 15:39 (000145)

Me too. I've had to work as hard mentally as physically. It's been almost 3 years now and the inflammation has finally went down in my feet to where there my be some light at the end of the tunnel. I've tried close to everything on this site. Don't know if it's just my turn for a little relief or my latest is physical therapy that taught me some wonderful stretches. I also was given prolene XL a anti-inflammatory. I've been wearing orthotics for 2 years. I absoutely refuse surgery. I came real close and got really aggressive I even through in 6 acupuncture treatments the same time as PT, massage, and anti-inflammatories. When I was at my lowest, I went to a new orthothotic place and when I saw people with no feet I found gratitude that day. Hang in there and keep active on this site.

Re: Help with Psychological effects of PF

scott r on 5/15/98 at 06:35 (000147)

From what others have written, it appears some doctors are more likely to 'attack' the patient when they are running out of treatment options.

In addition to the psychological effects the others have mentioned, I would like to add that friends, family, and co-workers routinely claim or imply that it's in my head. Stuff like 'all you need to do is walk it out' or 'you're just trying to get out of work'. Does anybody else get these sort of comments?

Re: Help with Psychological effects of PF

Melissa on 5/15/98 at 16:20 (000149)

Yes, I get those sorts of comments. PF is the third foot problem I've had in the past year. It's to the point that I don't talk about my foot problem to anyone except fellow sufferers anymore. I have one colleague with foot problems, and we support each other by eating lunch together everyday. If people do ask me about my foot problems, I usually lie and tell them I'm doing fine. My podiatrist has chronic back pain, so he is compassionate toward patients. If something doesn't work, he tries something else and doesn't take it personally. I had a terrible doctor last year who became nasty if something he tried didn't work. The best thing I ever did for my feet was switch to the podiatrist I have now. I think the people who frequent this board are very helpful and supportive, so this is a good place for people to come and let off steam about their PF.

Re: Help with Psychological effects of PF

MERLYN on 5/15/98 at 23:20 (000151)

I can certainly sympathize with you. In this day of modern medicine you would think they could come up with something. I've tried everything including antidepressants. I too was active and not overweight...however I have gained thirty pounds to add to my misery. Every day is filled with pain...my plantar fascia ruptured and my arch has inverted...ever seen an inverted arch on xray? PF hurts like hell and now it feels like someone beat the bottom of my foot, can't even bend my toes at night without waking up...I keep trying to look on the positive side...but I sure miss my old life and all the fun things I took for granted...waiting for the next gimmick on the market.

Re: Help with Psychological effects of PF

jill on 5/16/98 at 15:26 (000152)

This has certainly been one of the hardest years of my life. I always say to people my mood is totally correlated with my foot. when my foot is doing a bit better and i am hopefull, i'm happy and when i'm feeling chronic pain and can barely walk, despair and depression. its great getting support from this site and not feeling totally alone or crazy. fortunately, my friends and family have been very supportive and helpfull. i found myself saying to a friend the other day that the only good thing about my pf has been that feeling more vulnerable with this condition has brought me closer to friends. i suprised myself by citing something good-yikes! good luck to all of us.

Re: Help with Psychological effects of PF

Marie on 5/17/98 at 15:02 (000155)

I've had PF for 2 years now, have tried everything possible except surgery. I have not had one day when I haven't had excruciating pain. Depressed doesn't even come close to what I feel like some days. Yes Scott I have heard the comments also about I should walk it off, if they only knew what it was like to feel like you're walking on the set of steak knives that are sitting on the kitchen counter. I had one orthopedic dr. I was seeing for about year and half, and all of a sudden he started to become very sarcastic with me, so I dumped him. Am now seeing a podiatrist, who has done more for me in the past 3 months than that other guy had done in the year and half. Good riddens. Some days I feel like taking/buying a gun and just shoot the damm foot off. I beginning to get jealous of people with prostetic legs, they are out running races, skiing, and having a grand old time, and here I sit. Well anyway, thanks Scott for this wonderful site, it has been a blessing to know that other people are out there, even though I wish we weren't, that is I wish none of Us had this horrible condition.

Re: Help with Psychological effects of PF

Brenda on 5/17/98 at 23:20 (000161)

Hello fellow PF sufferers. I too have been dealing with PF for 6+
years. I am either accepting the minor pain as a way of life and
dealing with it, then complaining mostly when I have bad days.
My PF has been associated with my work and I've been to 6 Drs. The
last one that W.C. sent me to said that I had reached Maximum Medical
Improvement. Meaning to me that he himself knew of nothing else to do.
I had a cast for 1 weekend and couldn't stand the pain. I drove home
about 30 miles after having it put on my right foot. Go figure he never asked if I had anyone to drive me home, said just to be careful
When I went back he just took it off. I took my daughter with me to drive and he didn't try another one. I suggested things I found out
through research and he would say didn't I do that? and never did.
He did give me a permanant prescription for shoes and orthodics each year, also he put me on permanant 80/20 standing/sitting restrictions.
Now W.C. will not cover anymore Dr. visits and I still have trouble with swelling, pain and can't stand very long at a time. My life has
changed greatly because of the foot and I am going to consider a job change and hopefully take some courses to insure my ability to stay in the work force. Good luck to each and every one of you.

Re: Help with Psychological effects of PF

Margaret on 5/18/98 at 10:59 (000163)

Yes, I can tell everyone that the psychological effects of PF are like no other that I have ever experienced in my life.
I have been suffering from PF for 10 years and tried all kinds of remedies to no avail. I found a web site one day that talked about EPF surgery. It made it sound like a breeze... Back in your shoes in 3-5 days, back to work in a week and back to normal activities after ONLY one month.
I thought this was the answer to my suffering and went to see a specialist who booked me into the procedure within a week. I thought that this was great. Little did I know what was ahead of me.
It is now FOUR monnths since surgery and I can barely get around . The pain from the surgery has never let up. The specialist is one of those real jerks who only wants to see excellent results and therefore wants no part of my suffering and gives me absolutely no help or support in finding any relief. I'm on my own to get through this mess.
I foolishly had placed so much hope that this surgery would be the answer to my future happiness and what a letdown it has been. I would give anything to do it over again. How I wish I had read this web site before .
Things have gotten so bad that I went to see my family doctor who put me on antidepressants . I've been on them for a month now and they have helped a bit with my mood but if only I could get rid of some of the pain.That's my next dilemna since I don't want to turn into a pill freak.
I have been through other crises in my life ,as everyone has been and come through them strong and healthy but this one has just knocked everyhing out of me. I used to be a strong , outgoing person who enjoyed life even with the restrictions that PF puts on your life but now I dread getting up everyday to face the pain and immobility that this had placed on me.
I know that I will find a way to get through this. What keeps me going is the hope that I will wake up one day and soon and find some improvement that continues. I don't expect to ever be without pain but am willing to settle for anything at this point.
My advice for everyone is to thoroughly check out all the consequences of this new surgery and ASK QUESTIONS before you do anyhing . I would love to get the day back that I agreed to believe everything my surgeon told me just so he could experiment with a new procedure that I am now convinced he knew very little about. He has demonstrated that this is true by the way in which he has dealt with me since the operation .
Thanks for letting me get this out. I feel better. Good luck to all and take one day at a time . It's the only way to get through all of the ramifications of this affliction . We are the only ones who understand the way each of us feels . I'm so glad that we have this forum to let us know that we are not alone

Re: Help with Psychological effects of PF

Cindy on 5/18/98 at 14:14 (000167)

Marie: I know just what you mean about being jealous of the folks with prosthetic legs - I saw a show on TV about a young girl with prosthetic legs, and she was running track! I, too, have thought about shooting my feet off (I don't have a gun, either). I also saw a show about a m;an who did just that - his foot pain was so bad, he blasted both feet. They saved the feet (oh, great), but did put him on a really good drug program that enabled him to walk and be somewhat normal without constant pain. I think they were using morphine. It is very controversial, the use of these narcotics for folks who are not 'terminal.' That's what the show was about. I have also considered trying to find a dr. who would prescribe a lifetime of those powerful drugs. I also daydream about buying a better wheelchair. I saw some on TV that can go on mountain trails, so you could go 'hiking' and really get around. It was kind of like a mountain bike wheelchair! I would love to have that

I find that a change of scenery is my best medicine when I get really down. We take lots of little trips. Went to Grand Canyon last week (I couldn't do anything, but I could see it). Went to the ocean the week before (yes, these trips always remind me of how I used to be, running and walking on the beach, or hiking). But, its still better than sitting around the house, eating and gaining even more weight
Hang in there.

Re: Help with Psychological effects of PF

liz on 5/22/98 at 15:31 (000612)

Don't give up quite yet. PF takes time and patience to get over. I am a triathlete and I took 6 mo. off from running to take care of my PF. As a result, I was able to race last weekend AND I found out that I really had not lost too much speedwise. During my time off from running, I kept fit by agua-jogging, biking, swimming, and lifting (concentrating on my legs more than normal). Mentally, you need to look at these activities as a way to stay active, not as a 'cheap substitute'. I know it is VERY frustrating but you need to keep a positive attitude. I can't tell you what type of therapy will be the answer for you but the best bet is to stay aggresive with it but hold off on the surgery. I highly recommend custom orthotics, massage, and stretching. Also, don't try running until you are pain free, without the benefits of drugs or shots, and then start back with 5-10 min. runs and work back up very slowly. Coming back slowly from an injury is critical unless you want to hurt yourself all over again. Good luck.

Re: Help with Psychological effects of PF

Paul on 5/28/98 at 19:36 (000661)

Hi read your message, know its serious but I had to chuckle my wife has jokingly been threatening to cut my foot off for quite some time now, now I can suggest shooting it off probaably quicker and not as painful, keep hoping everyday when I wake up it will be gone, if it ever happens I going to have one helluva party :} good luck!