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long-term success...

Posted by JudyS on 3/28/01 at 11:31 (042795)

I've read here this week concerns from a few folks about 'success' stories continuing to post - and someone asked the question yesterday about 'long-term' sufferers so I thought I'd post a bit of an update on my continued recovery.
I started with PF 3 years ago. It went away the first time after about a month but returned with a vengance a few months later. I was very busy and very active and gave it no mind. THAT was mistake number one! I went with the preliminary treatments, i.e., taping, icing OTC inserts, ibuprofen for a while but always intermittently. And I never quit being on my feet. And, because I was spending 12-hour days rehabing my Alzheimer-affected mother-in-law's house, as well as caring for her, I completely abandoned a nutritional diet. I kept running and I kept playing a lot of ball. And I kept waiting for 'it' to go away. It only got worse. Finally, like so many here, I was 'crawling and crying'. And I was hearing that surgery may possibly only make things worse in the long run.
Last winter/spring I decided to take charge - I'd abandoned running by then but things were no better. The first thing I did was spend a week perusing this website - what an education! It made me more fearful of surgery for starters, but it also gave me the strongest tool I'd ever had and that was one of support.
I started vigorously devoting myself to regular, traditional treatment. I eventually got in to deep-tissue massage in PT. By then I had some really serious scaring so that massage was WAY painful. I underwent that for about 3-4 months and I think it was my second greatest tool in making progress. I developed a secondary tendonitis in the first-metatarsal joint area which I am now convinced was a result of a cast, the night splint and orthotics putting too much cramping pressure there and forcing already-high arches even higher.
Anyway, I've been writing here for the last several months that, in a year's time, I've improved at least 70%. I measure that by being able to be on my feet, with normal activities, for an entire day. I still can't cruise a mall for more than an hour or two, or take walks and certainly can't run. I can play ball for an hour, sometimes two. One foot seems to be completely pain-free, the other one still has lingering heel pain but reasonably minor. That's why I got a cortisone shot the other day - to see if it would help this last bit. I think it is helping but I'm not sure as I get a twinge a few times an hour.
When I got that shot it was by my THIRD podiatrist. The first two, after 2 years of seeing one then the other, had contradicted each other re: surgery, orthotics and treatment so I was hoping for a tie-breaker opinion. This guy had something very interesting to say and I think he was willing to say it because of my 70% improvement. He said that, in the VAST majority of cases, PF heals over time. Time being the critical factor. The other critical factor - using the feet no more than necessary. If I'd stopped running, etc. way back when I would not be here 3 years later. He also said that this doesn't mean staying completely off your feet - just whenever possible as atrophy should be avoided. That 70% is why I'm pretty much no longer a candidate for surgery - if I was going to have it it should have been a year and a half ago. But with my current rate of recovery, the year it takes to recover from surgery is also the year in which I should experience quite nearly 100% recovery without surgery and by maintaining my new 'foot habits'. He said that the reason people, like my husband, have surgery after 9-18 months of pain is simply because they can't 'take it' anymore - understandably so. I was lucky in that I don't have a job that has me on my feet and I do have the luxury of getting off them whenever I want. But having to give up running, walking, grocery shopping, cleaning house, or even going to a pro-game at the stadium was trying - as all of you well know. To have added child-care or job demand to my mix is unimaginable to me.
The point being that PF is an 'itis' and, like tennis elbow or a pulled hamstring, it can be treated - assuming biomechanics or other physical issues are dealt with or are not a problem. It's just impossible to give the feet the same rest that one can give an elbow or hamstring so healing time is exponentially longer.
To a degree I think I did make a mistake in not doing the surgery at least a year ago if not more. My chances of resuming normal activities and physical activities may well have occured much sooner. But that's water under the bridge. I'm not sure I'll become a runner again and I won't even consider it for at least another 6 months. I have trouble with my 'other' tendonitis on a bike because of the 'toe-point' rotation of the pedals so I've avoided that. I am hopeful though that, like John h, I should be able to have a decent walking program fairly soon.
Last, the other mistake I made was in giving up too much. I gave the PF way too much control. I could have stayed with weight training, etc, I could have intelligently kept my weight down but I really gave up and as a result, got pretty depressed at least twice. It wasn't until I decided to develop a take-charge attitude that the PF started improving.
I guess that's my long-term story. And I can only attribute it to three things, conventional, consistent therapy, this board, and waiting. And, of course, tring to keep a 'take-charge' mentality.
The only distressing thing I heard from this third doc was skepticism of ESWT - which he admittedly knew little about. As I did with the others, I handed him a file re: ESWT, told him it'd been proven effective for years abroad and was FDA approved here. And, just as the others did, he said that I clearly knew more about it than he did! So why the skepticism? They actually think it's a flash-in-the-pan gimmick!