My success storyPosted by Kelly C on 12/05/01 at 11:40 (066205)
I have only posted a few times here. Some background: I'm a 39 year old man and this case of PF has lasted about 6 months. I was running last spring and didn't buy new shoes when I should have. BAM, my 4th case of PF since I was 24.
I've tried a lot of different approaches this time, since the regimen if stretching plus ice didn't seem to work as well as previous cases. In hindsight, I think if I had stretched more often and iced my foot more often, that approach would have worked.
I'll list the treatments in the order of effectiveness, most effective first.
1. Night splint. I got a prescription night splint that is one of the tall white plastic jobs, with a little wedge under the toes to keep dorsiflexion. I tried it one night and gave up on it, the straps hurt WAY too much. I also bought one of the N'Ice night splints that are sold from this site, and that thing was just laughable. I could point my foot all I wanted with that thing on. A physical therapist finally told me that the prescription night splint would probably work well, but I shouldn't expect it to keep my ankle at 90 degrees. The important thing was to *prevent* the foot from pointing, which allows the calf and foot muscles to tighten overnight. The PT provided some additional padding for the night splint, and I started using it regularly several weeks ago. The results were astonishing. Even when my PF was getting better, I would still get up in the morning with my PF foot feeling stiff and tired. Using the night splint changed that completely. I now get up in the morning with my PF foot feeling just as good as my other foot.
2. Alzner orthotics. A massage therapist I see (more about that later) and trust told me about the Good Feet orthotics. I was *very* skeptical, due to the 'one treatment for all feet' and the hard sell approach. But the idea does make sense; rather than molding a prescription orthotic to a foot that has biomechanical faults, get the foot accustomed to an orthotic that represents a healthy arch, biomechanically. I took a week to get my feet used to the Alzner orthotic, and I was glad I did. They make my feet MUCH happier. Now when I wear my prescription orthotics, my feet hurt more.
3. Stretching, hot water, and icing, a LOT. The physical therapists told me to stretch my PF foot and leg a lot more, especially my gastrocnemius muscle. I only could bend my foot (sitting with my legs out straight in front) up to about 5 degrees past 90. Not so good. My healthy foot could go at least 5 degrees farther. I haven't stretched nearly as much as I should, but when I DO stretch (calf stretches, hamstring stretches, hip flexor stretches, and quad stretches, they are all important) my foot feels better. No question. And when I go dancing, I ice my foot afterwards. I ice by putting my foot in a bucket with several inches of water and 2 trays of cubes. No other method is as effective for me. If I don't ice my foot at night, after dancing, I do a 10 minute hot water soak the next morning in the bathtub, as hot as I can stand having my foot in the water. Then I ice after that. The heat/ice combination seems very effective.
4. Deep massage. A friend from my rollerblading club who is also a runner, told me about his case of PF. He went to a massage therapist who does serious hardcore deep tissue massage. He said it hurt like hell, and he was right. I have had 6 or so appointments with her, and it is NOT a pleasant massage for the most part. She doesn't just massage the foot, although she does spend a fair amount of time there. She finds tight areas all up and down the calves and thighs, and I have to do very concentrated breathing/meditation to deal with the pain! But the benefits were immediately obvious. Only after one session did my foot hurt more, and I think she just overdid it a bit that one time.
5. Rest. When I really had serious pain, I had to avoid dancing. I took most of a month off of swing dancing, and the benefits were obvious. Now, I can dance anytime I want, but while I still had heel pain, I simply had to take time off from the things I loved to do.
6. Ibuprofen creme. When I really had bad heel pain, this didn't help much. But now, when I get a little bit of pain, I find the creme does help. I'm also using a LOT more of it than I did at first, and spending a good 5 minutes rubbing it into my foot. I use several large dollops, rubbing each one in and then applying more.
I hope all of this helps someone! I bought some of the Chinese herbs to try, quite a lot of each one, but never tried them. If anyone is in Wisconsin and wants to try them, let me know and I'll try to get them to you.