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What if my heel pain is long-lived but not excruciating?

Posted by Laura M. on 6/13/01 at 20:29 (050660)

I've just been reading this message board for the last couple of weeks and finally decided to take the plunge and post my boring story. It seems like a long time ago now, but once I was a runner. I was getting kind of macho and doing hill training runs, running for up to an hour a day and really enjoying it. Then a little over a year ago I started getting the typical morning heel pain, but pretty much ignored it. I ran through last August when one long run took me off my feet for a day or two in serious pain.

I've been to a podiatrist for rigid orthotics ($400) which didn't help at all, though he said they were the only thing that would. He said I pronated.

Went to an orthopedist. He said my arches seemed pretty high. He told me to wear gel heel pads, do the stretching and wear a night splint. Maybe a little relief here. Later he gave me a cortisone shot and sent me to physical therapy. I know I felt better after the shot (which in and of itself didn't bother me at all), but I also think the ultra-sound and iontos (sp?) the therapist did helped too. Therapist had me icing a lot too along with stretching, including the 'terrible toe stretch' from yoga.

A month or so after the shot, and while still doing physical therapy, the pain seemed to get worse again. Then, because I was discouraged, tired of wearing 'sensible' shoes (my ten year old daughter calls them my 'grandmother shoes'), and because it was warm, I started wearing my birkinstock sandles with the bumpy foot bed, massage sandals. I couldn't tell if the sensation of wearing these sandals just masked the pain or if there was something about the massage that really helped. Anyone else have this experience with these 'pressure point' birkinstocks?

At this point I'm on a good day/bad day kind of routine. But I don't think I'll be able to wear the birkinstocks much past the end of summer and I'm wondering if I'm just going to spend the rest of my life with this non-debilitating but noticible pain. Am I going to have to avoid playing soccer with my kids and give up on ever running again?

At this point I feel like I know as much as any of the professionals I've seen (thanks in large part to this site). But I'm trying to get up the emotional courage to seek more medical help. Any advice on what kind of help that ought to be?

I did try acupuncture which left me feeling centered and peaceful, but my feet still hurt. The acupuncturist had me try heated castor oil packs (very soothing to the spirit, but not terrible helpful for the heel pain). She also suggested magnets, which a plumber who happened to visit my home swore by. I haven't tried them yet. Maybe I'll try to get some of the jade balm, soak the magnets in it, and tape them on in the manner of Scott's drawings.

Re: What if my heel pain is long-lived but not excruciating?

Nancy N on 6/13/01 at 21:02 (050665)

Laura--

Are you seeing a doctor now? If you've seen a podiatrist, you might want to try an orthopedist, and vice versa. Sports medicine is another popular choice. Read up on ESWT on this site, too--if the injection helped, you might be a good candidate for that as well. Good luck--let us know how it goes and if we can help.

Re: What if my heel pain is long-lived but not excruciating?

Milo_V on 6/13/01 at 22:24 (050680)

I'm not sure what other medical advice you should receive, but there are a lot of options on this board. (Other than 'heal thyself', kind of corny, eh :)

In your detailed list of treatment, I didn't see rest. I've found taping to really help rest that PF ligament even though I was skeptical at first. Like you, I had over done it with exercise and it took 8 months to get back to normal, pseudo-normal I have no pain and am slowly working up in my fitness levels. In the last 2-3 months of that block of time I religiously taped, spot iced, massaged, stretched, and took ibufprofin to reduce the swelling.

I had a physio therapist friend who helped me along with the treatment and showed techniques for massage, stretching, icing, exercise and things. I found it was great to have someone to talk to, listen to me and just explain things.

Cheers
Milo

Re: What if my heel pain is long-lived but not excruciating?

john h on 6/14/01 at 09:03 (050701)

sort of agree with nancy. sounds somewhat like my story. i continued to run because the pain was not that bad and progressed to the point my condition became chronic and worse. REST for several months at least. No running,no soccer, and wear good supportive shoes sandals (airizona birks a good choice for many). you are at a point you can still get control of this monster. concerning hard orthortics that was the first thing the doc prescribed for me and i got worse. they went into the trash a long time ago. a lot of different opinions on which orthotics but i have not seen many post that recommended them.

Re: What if my heel pain is long-lived but not excruciating?

Laura M. on 6/14/01 at 10:32 (050706)

I'm not currently seeing a doctor, but would like to find a good sports medicine type. Anyone in the Washington, D.C. area have anyone to recommend? I have seen both a podiatrist and an orthopedist (and an acupuncturist and a physical therapist).

Re: What if my heel pain is long-lived but not excruciating?

Rock on 6/14/01 at hrmin (050716)

Laura,

A lot of PF persons kind of miss the main target of healing themselves by thinking that if they 'rest' for weeks or even months they will heal up, often without success That might work if one single activity, such as running was really what was causing excessive motion that was causing their PF.

Instead, I suggest that you identify EXACTLY what activity is causing the overstretching of the tissues of your foot and avoid it or modify your behavior.

Example #1: Running uphill causes PF pain (the next day)
Solution #1: Hike up all uphills

Example #2: Wall push-offs while swimming causes PF pain (the next day)
Solution #2: Push off walls with heels (never toes)

Example #3: Squatting down working on car causes PF pain (the next day)
Solution #3: Never ever squat. Get a stool !

I hope this helps.
Rock.

Re: What if my heel pain is long-lived but not excruciating?

Nancy N on 6/13/01 at 21:02 (050665)

Laura--

Are you seeing a doctor now? If you've seen a podiatrist, you might want to try an orthopedist, and vice versa. Sports medicine is another popular choice. Read up on ESWT on this site, too--if the injection helped, you might be a good candidate for that as well. Good luck--let us know how it goes and if we can help.

Re: What if my heel pain is long-lived but not excruciating?

Milo_V on 6/13/01 at 22:24 (050680)

I'm not sure what other medical advice you should receive, but there are a lot of options on this board. (Other than 'heal thyself', kind of corny, eh :)

In your detailed list of treatment, I didn't see rest. I've found taping to really help rest that PF ligament even though I was skeptical at first. Like you, I had over done it with exercise and it took 8 months to get back to normal, pseudo-normal I have no pain and am slowly working up in my fitness levels. In the last 2-3 months of that block of time I religiously taped, spot iced, massaged, stretched, and took ibufprofin to reduce the swelling.

I had a physio therapist friend who helped me along with the treatment and showed techniques for massage, stretching, icing, exercise and things. I found it was great to have someone to talk to, listen to me and just explain things.

Cheers
Milo

Re: What if my heel pain is long-lived but not excruciating?

john h on 6/14/01 at 09:03 (050701)

sort of agree with nancy. sounds somewhat like my story. i continued to run because the pain was not that bad and progressed to the point my condition became chronic and worse. REST for several months at least. No running,no soccer, and wear good supportive shoes sandals (airizona birks a good choice for many). you are at a point you can still get control of this monster. concerning hard orthortics that was the first thing the doc prescribed for me and i got worse. they went into the trash a long time ago. a lot of different opinions on which orthotics but i have not seen many post that recommended them.

Re: What if my heel pain is long-lived but not excruciating?

Laura M. on 6/14/01 at 10:32 (050706)

I'm not currently seeing a doctor, but would like to find a good sports medicine type. Anyone in the Washington, D.C. area have anyone to recommend? I have seen both a podiatrist and an orthopedist (and an acupuncturist and a physical therapist).

Re: What if my heel pain is long-lived but not excruciating?

Rock on 6/14/01 at hrmin (050716)

Laura,

A lot of PF persons kind of miss the main target of healing themselves by thinking that if they 'rest' for weeks or even months they will heal up, often without success That might work if one single activity, such as running was really what was causing excessive motion that was causing their PF.

Instead, I suggest that you identify EXACTLY what activity is causing the overstretching of the tissues of your foot and avoid it or modify your behavior.

Example #1: Running uphill causes PF pain (the next day)
Solution #1: Hike up all uphills

Example #2: Wall push-offs while swimming causes PF pain (the next day)
Solution #2: Push off walls with heels (never toes)

Example #3: Squatting down working on car causes PF pain (the next day)
Solution #3: Never ever squat. Get a stool !

I hope this helps.
Rock.