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Better with time????

Posted by Christine F on 2/05/02 at 16:08 (072662)

I don't think I would be as frustrated with my bilateral p.f. if this chronic pain that I have had for,.....going on 8 months now was getting any better. Does anyone get better with time? It seems as if it is only getting worse, is that possible even if I am constantly steaching, doing physical therapy, icing, booting both feet at night, and not standing for longer than a few hours throughout the whole damn day??? I am 23 yrs old and I don't think I can handle this for much longer. With all of the complications with surgery, how long do most people wait before they go crazzy or just are completly out of options. I am even trying things I never thought I would,...Chinese Herbs, Magnets ect..... It just keeps getting worse, will I ever get another day in my life without pain, I don't even remember what it feels like?

Re: Better with time????

dora on 2/05/02 at 16:38 (072665)

Hey there,
I feel your pain and mine too :)(as I sit here icing my feet). I am new to PF and am so frustrated that I am willing to try anything.
I have noticed that complete rest helps me some. Nothing hurts my feet more than standing or walking around. It's just unbearable when I sit down.
Anyways, to answer your question, I don't know how long it will take to go away. It seems as if the majority of the people on this site have had this condition for quite some time.
I asked my podiatrist how long it would take to heal. He basicaaly avoided my question. (no surprise there) However, he did say that if I was to take 3 complete weeks off from walking and standing, I would see a drastic improvement. Of course for most this is impossible to do.
By the way, have you tried accupuncture? I think this is going to be my next new attempt to rid myself of some pain.

Re: Better with time????

dora on 2/05/02 at 16:44 (072669)

Christine,
How could I have forgotten. TAPING. This is helping me immensely. I just had my feet taped here recently. My podiatrist uses a different method than the one found here, but it feels GREAT. I would not be walking/standing without my tape.

Re: Better with time????

D.J. on 2/05/02 at 17:12 (072672)

Christine,

I can understand your frustration. I am 25 and have been suffering for almost two years now. If anything I think I've gotten slightly worse and I have gotten more and more frustrated over the years. My whole lifestyle has been changed severely similar to the majority of readers on this board. Two years ago I was competing in college cross country and track competitions, now it is painful to walk across the street to get coffee. I have worked with some of the best physicians in my area and they are all stumped. Even though I am pessimistic at times, overall I am confident that eventually I will be cured or at least improve drastically. There are many people on this board who have managed to improve using a combination of different treatment options. Since finding this web site I have become more persistent than ever at finding new doctors and experimenting with different treatments. I would continue to see different physicians and ask people on this board for recommendations on physicians in your area. Keep experimenting with new treatment methods knowing that it may take time and plenty of patience before you find relieve from the pain but you WILL eventually get better as many others have on this board. Good luck!

Re: For some people, yes, but others need more

Carole C in NOLA on 2/05/02 at 17:34 (072675)

Christine, I am one of those who is improving pretty rapidly. I got PF on 9/22/01, and on 11/21/01 I saw a doctor and the x-rays he took showed heelspurs. My pain has decreased substantially since then. What works for one person may not work for another, but for me almost total rest, custom orthotics, stretching, and never never ever taking a single step without my orthotics or Birkenstocks (even to get in the shower, and using a shower stool) seemed to help the most.

If you have read the heel pain book on this site, and tried everything you can think of, at some point you may want to look into ESWT as a next step. I don't know much about that but it seems to have worked pretty well for some people on this message board.

Carole

Re: Better with time????

Christine F on 2/06/02 at 07:47 (072763)

DJ, you are the first young person I have known now that has this annoying condition as bad as I do. Everyone I have talked to or seen for some kind of treatment has said that they have never seen a case this serious in someone my age and not overweight. I also was a competitive runner, and have gone from a very active lifestyle to a couch potatoe, it is the only thing my feet will alow me to do is sit, sleep and work, and even then I am limited. I still lift weights at the gym and occasionaly ride the bike, but I live in Aspen and am missing skiing more than ever now. I am slowing sinking into depression, and I am no longer positive that I will get better, I am a cripple. 2 years?!?!? Have you thought of sugery? If I continue with this for a full year I think I may try it, because it will be the only thing left to try. Why do I feel like I am being punished? How are you dealing with this? My boyfriend (a former pro triathlete) constantly is positive about my condition, but he just can't understand how much I am suffering. I have a very high tolerance for pain, as most runners do, and it is unbareable, sometime I break down and cry when the day is over hoping that tomorrow will be better. Sorry for babbling, thank you for letting me bitch, it feels good to communicate wil someone who understands how different my life has become.

Re: For some people, yes, but others need more

Christine F on 2/06/02 at 07:55 (072764)

Yes I have tried taping, yes I sit in the shower, no I do not walk barefoot, yes I have read the heel pain book. I don't have spurs,...yet but who knows with the way things are going I could end up with those too. I have gotten blood work done, I sleep with both of my feet in night splints so I don't sleep to well, but if I don't put them on my feet hurt durring the night which also keeps me awake, I am on the verge of a breakdown, and yet I can't excersise to relieve the constant stress,axiety and frustration. I was also told time off of my feet would help, but then who would pay the bills, besides like my podaatrist said they could cast up both of my feet for a month or so, and that would relive the pain but after the casts were taken off it would only be a mater of time before the pain returned. I don't think it is fair for anyone to go through this, and I just wish if it had to happen to me why couldn't I be 60 and not 23. I just feel like these podiatrists should have some kind of cure for this,...isn't this why they went to school?

Re: For some people, yes, but others need more

Julie on 2/06/02 at 08:46 (072767)

Christine, warning bells started clanging when I saw 'constant stretching' in your first post. I know it's hard for an active person to take it in - we desperately want to get better, so we 'do' as much as possible - but sometimes 'less is more'. 'Constant stretching', of whatever kind, is likely to make you worse rather than better. Whatever stretches you're doing, if you are no better after months of doing them, you'd probably do well to back off them and re-think.

Most PF sufferers do not do well with weight-bearing stretches, such as the wall stretch and the hanging-off-the-stair stretch. Non-weight-bearing exercise is less likely to irritate or cause re-injury. Search on 'stretching' and see what people have said.

You also say you don't stand 'for more than a few hours each day'. That's a lot of standing, which can be even more injurious for PF than walking (it was for me). See if you can get off your feet more. (I know that's hard to take in too!)

PF at 60 is no more fun than PF at 23, and usually takes longer to heal. Take heart: virtually all cases of PF resolve with time and conservative treatment.

And of course, as Carole has said, you have the option of ESWT, which you should certainly consider before even thinking 'surgery'.

Re: For some people, yes, but others need more

Christine F on 2/06/02 at 09:13 (072769)

Ok maybe not constant streching, but more than the average person, I do not do weight bearing streches. I lay on my back, or at work I sit in a chair. I do them when I wake up and probably 5 times throughout the day, when I get home and then I ice, so I don't think that I am over doing it. I was, at first, doing them 10 times a day, but with me, I have noticed the more I strech the better I feel, so I think I may start doing them a tad more frequently. I know a few hours is too much, but if I don't work I cannot pay the bills and one of my jobs is sit down, and the other is not but I still sit almost the whole shift because my boss lets me use a chair behind the counter. I can not afford to take weeks off of work and I have checked into other office jobs that are majority sit down, and there is always some standing or walking required. I know this injury isn't anymore fun in someone 20 or 70, but I just wanted to get a little more out of life, and do more competitive running before my dreams were crushed. I cannot and will not spend the rest of my life in a chair or on the couch in front of the TV, I am missing out on life. I am thinking of getting a wheelchair so at least I can go for walks around town with my boyfriend, they are $60 a month and I don't think that my insurace will cover it for someone who just has PF (they just don't seem to understand) but I am working on it, even with insurance bills are expensive. We were suppossed to go to the Olymipcs and now I don't know if that is possible for me with all of the walking and standing that is required, but Shaun is willing to wheel me around do I think it may still be a go. I just can't stop asking the question,...why me?

Re: Better with time????

D.J. on 2/06/02 at 10:30 (072780)

I understand completely what you are feeling and going through. Not only am I not able to run, but I'm not able to do any other activity to distract me from the depression of not being able to run. I would love to ski, bike, or play a few sets of tennis but for now it is painful just to go to the grocery store.
Although I am lucky to have a desk job as a web designer, I've realized over the last year that I'm not happy staring at a computer 8 hours a day. My first love is video, a field that would require me to be on my feet for long periods of time. Also similar to your situation, I have a girfriend that is very sympathetic and patient but I feel really bad when she wants to go for a hike or go to a bar and I can't do that because it will involve walking or standing. I have many friends that are professional runners now that I no longer keep in touch with becuase it really hurts me to hear about running or see a track meet.
Although I can't tell you when the pain will go away, I can tell you from experience that the psychological pain and frustration will get better. Six months ago, I was very depressed, I didn't want to do anything, had an extremely negative attitude, wondered why this had happened to me, and constantly wondered if my life would ever be normal again. I have gotten better in that area, I now don't let the pain ruin my whole attitude on life. Remember that although there are many things that you can't do, there are still many things you can do. Focus on the things you CAN do and keep yourself so busy doing these things that you don't have time to think about what you aren't doing.
It is proven that frustration, loss of sleep, and depression CAN increase pain in Chronic pain sufferers. You have to break that cycle. Do whatever it is that will keep you happy. Things that worked for me were: joining the bandwagon and buying a Harry Potter book, watching an IMAX movie, seeing a broadway show, going to the IMPROV, taking a trip to the mountains, etc. These are all temporary cures but one thing I've learned is that I can't wait for the injury to heal before I continue living life. I have to enjoy life as much as I can and continue to try to find the cure. Also to answer your question, WHY ME? WHY AM I BEING PUNISHED?
When you watch the Olympics in a week you will see many athletes that have triumphed over many obstacles in their lives. You will see athletes that have reached rock bottom before fighting their way back to the top and winning the Gold Medal. I think this is more than a coincidence. Having setbacks only intensifies your appetite for success. You will become stronger. You will want it more than ever. I know if I am ever able to run again I will never take anything for granted again and I will work harder than I ever did before. If you need anyone to chat with or just to vent, feel free to email me at (email removed). If you have AOL Instant Messenger, my IM is mister blubird. I'd love to hear from you. I know from experience that just being able to vent to someone else that understands what you are going through can make you feel much better. Good Luck!

Re: Better with time????

Chris F on 2/06/02 at 12:40 (072799)

Thanks,...I will stay in touch :)

Re: For some people, yes, but others need more

Glennx on 2/06/02 at 13:27 (072805)

Christine: I'd like to echo Julie's caution about stretching. I too have a stubborn PF condition and have tried very diligently to manage it, including stretching -- to a fault.

The first rule of stretching is to 'do no harm.' It's also the toughest to stay with. Took me a long time to learn that my body is WAY too slow at telling me I'm over-stretching, maybe weeks slow. Second rule is to target a goal: an angle of dorsiflexion that will prevent injury, say 80 degrees. If you're there, stretching isn't a priority.

To get to a healthy angle I experimented with all the stretches -- weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing (reps, sets, hold time, warm-ups). In the process I learned that ANY STRETCH felt in the bottoms of my feet is harmful. Even those that feel good. (But it took me a long time to learn that).

I suspect that what's happening is a slight aggravation to the already-tenderized soles of my feet that my body reacts to by sending analgesics to my feet. After a foot-felt stretch I felt a little looser there, more flexible, less pained . . . better. But I was also secretly re-injuring things, and an icing afterwards only blurred the message to my brain.

Six weeks ago I had ESWT treatment. Three weeks ago (at 80 degrees of dorsiflexion) I completely stopped stretching (shoulda done so earlier). I even stopped night splints (after six months of them), and went to a less aggressive arch support (orthotics were also 'stretching' my wounded fascia). Since then I've noticed very slow, lurching, but perceivable progress.

In the last few days I've resumed very light stretching once per day, completely isolated to my calves, and only to maintain my 80 degrees. If I feel anything in my feet during or afterwards, I am assuming I'm over-stretching.

One last lesson I've learned. My body is eager to heal itself (even well past age 23). If it isn't making headway I'm doing something wrong. The more I've subtracted from my treatment plan the better I seem to have progressed.

Re: former competitive runner here

elliott on 2/06/02 at 16:22 (072817)

Not as young as you, and my problem was tarsal tunnel, not PF, but boy, do I ever understand you. Started running in '92. I have had problems for years now. Bilateral surgeries, bilateral complications. My last attempted run was a year and four months ago. I was just told last week by a super-big-name orthopedist that it's very unlikely I'll ever run again, and he told me why, too (although walking painfree would be nice for starters). I'm so far gone with depression about the running and even expected him to say what he did that his words didn't even crush me like they might have at an earlier time. Other than an occasional ray of hope when I get a small sign of possible improvement, like you, I am depressed all the time. I find Time does not heal the depression. If you're a real runner like I (was), you will not so easily make the switch to other pursuits like those happy-go-lucky types who don't get too depressed because they don't have the same narrow-minded focus we runners have when we delve into things with everything we've got. We're not like them; we're superior, so we're always depressed. :-) As you know, there really isn't anything like running. Great thing for loners like me. Nothing like a run to feel good and forget about life for a while. I could cry not having that outlet. And then there's the competitive aspect. I wasn't born with talent, and it could only go so far, but it didn't matter; I somehow stretched this uncoordinated body of mine to accomplishments beyond my wildest dreams. Weight kept dropping, got the ultimate compliment when people started telling me I looked emaciated. My times were all coming down, in everything from the mile to 10 miles. I started taking age-group medals. Yes, nothing Me! What a dream world it was. Then it all came crashing down to earth, and I probably will never run again. The last time I ran the annual mile race down Main Street of a small town (what an exciting race!), back in '98, I was determined to break 5:00 minutes, something my running coworkers said I'd never be able to do (I was twenty seconds slower the year before, twenty seconds slower than that the year before that). My time? A heartbreaking 5:00.9, and I have a newspaper clipping to prove it. That was OK cause I was super-determined to break it the next year. But next year never came, and now I'm too old (41), past my prime, even if I got better soon. Taunting time, crushed dreams.

Enough of that. You have some things going for you. You're still young. Chances are it goes away and you recover, with still plenty of time to realize your dreams, including the running ones. The odds are with you. Consider ESWT like another advised; it's an expensive but nonsurgical option showing promise (I wish Dr. Z or Reid could tell us of any competitive runners who went through the treatment and got back to their previous running levels and what the chances are of that.) I also want to note that your boyfriend seems to really care about you (as my wife about me, even if I don't acknowledge it enough). You must be putting a crimp in his lifestyle, but rather than dumping you, he wants to be with you, spend time with you, wheelchair or what. You are so very lucky.

Keep the faith, runner. The injured runner's motto is: never, ever, give up. If you ever want to 'bitch', I'm here.

--

Re: former competitive runner here

Carole C in NOLA on 2/06/02 at 16:41 (072820)

Elliott, I'm so sorry! What a lousy thing to be told.

If you were quoting your doctor pretty exactly, then he said, 'unlikely', not 'impossible'. You seem like the kind of man who rises to a challenge. As for the age thing, I dunno. A boxer over 35 might as well hang up his gloves, so they said in the sixties. Then along came George. He faced quite a challenge, too, and showed the world what a boxer in his 40's can do.

I'm not saying it would be easy. I'm just saying that I think you might do it.

Carole C

Re: Better with time????

dora on 2/05/02 at 16:38 (072665)

Hey there,
I feel your pain and mine too :)(as I sit here icing my feet). I am new to PF and am so frustrated that I am willing to try anything.
I have noticed that complete rest helps me some. Nothing hurts my feet more than standing or walking around. It's just unbearable when I sit down.
Anyways, to answer your question, I don't know how long it will take to go away. It seems as if the majority of the people on this site have had this condition for quite some time.
I asked my podiatrist how long it would take to heal. He basicaaly avoided my question. (no surprise there) However, he did say that if I was to take 3 complete weeks off from walking and standing, I would see a drastic improvement. Of course for most this is impossible to do.
By the way, have you tried accupuncture? I think this is going to be my next new attempt to rid myself of some pain.

Re: Better with time????

dora on 2/05/02 at 16:44 (072669)

Christine,
How could I have forgotten. TAPING. This is helping me immensely. I just had my feet taped here recently. My podiatrist uses a different method than the one found here, but it feels GREAT. I would not be walking/standing without my tape.

Re: Better with time????

D.J. on 2/05/02 at 17:12 (072672)

Christine,

I can understand your frustration. I am 25 and have been suffering for almost two years now. If anything I think I've gotten slightly worse and I have gotten more and more frustrated over the years. My whole lifestyle has been changed severely similar to the majority of readers on this board. Two years ago I was competing in college cross country and track competitions, now it is painful to walk across the street to get coffee. I have worked with some of the best physicians in my area and they are all stumped. Even though I am pessimistic at times, overall I am confident that eventually I will be cured or at least improve drastically. There are many people on this board who have managed to improve using a combination of different treatment options. Since finding this web site I have become more persistent than ever at finding new doctors and experimenting with different treatments. I would continue to see different physicians and ask people on this board for recommendations on physicians in your area. Keep experimenting with new treatment methods knowing that it may take time and plenty of patience before you find relieve from the pain but you WILL eventually get better as many others have on this board. Good luck!

Re: For some people, yes, but others need more

Carole C in NOLA on 2/05/02 at 17:34 (072675)

Christine, I am one of those who is improving pretty rapidly. I got PF on 9/22/01, and on 11/21/01 I saw a doctor and the x-rays he took showed heelspurs. My pain has decreased substantially since then. What works for one person may not work for another, but for me almost total rest, custom orthotics, stretching, and never never ever taking a single step without my orthotics or Birkenstocks (even to get in the shower, and using a shower stool) seemed to help the most.

If you have read the heel pain book on this site, and tried everything you can think of, at some point you may want to look into ESWT as a next step. I don't know much about that but it seems to have worked pretty well for some people on this message board.

Carole

Re: Better with time????

Christine F on 2/06/02 at 07:47 (072763)

DJ, you are the first young person I have known now that has this annoying condition as bad as I do. Everyone I have talked to or seen for some kind of treatment has said that they have never seen a case this serious in someone my age and not overweight. I also was a competitive runner, and have gone from a very active lifestyle to a couch potatoe, it is the only thing my feet will alow me to do is sit, sleep and work, and even then I am limited. I still lift weights at the gym and occasionaly ride the bike, but I live in Aspen and am missing skiing more than ever now. I am slowing sinking into depression, and I am no longer positive that I will get better, I am a cripple. 2 years?!?!? Have you thought of sugery? If I continue with this for a full year I think I may try it, because it will be the only thing left to try. Why do I feel like I am being punished? How are you dealing with this? My boyfriend (a former pro triathlete) constantly is positive about my condition, but he just can't understand how much I am suffering. I have a very high tolerance for pain, as most runners do, and it is unbareable, sometime I break down and cry when the day is over hoping that tomorrow will be better. Sorry for babbling, thank you for letting me bitch, it feels good to communicate wil someone who understands how different my life has become.

Re: For some people, yes, but others need more

Christine F on 2/06/02 at 07:55 (072764)

Yes I have tried taping, yes I sit in the shower, no I do not walk barefoot, yes I have read the heel pain book. I don't have spurs,...yet but who knows with the way things are going I could end up with those too. I have gotten blood work done, I sleep with both of my feet in night splints so I don't sleep to well, but if I don't put them on my feet hurt durring the night which also keeps me awake, I am on the verge of a breakdown, and yet I can't excersise to relieve the constant stress,axiety and frustration. I was also told time off of my feet would help, but then who would pay the bills, besides like my podaatrist said they could cast up both of my feet for a month or so, and that would relive the pain but after the casts were taken off it would only be a mater of time before the pain returned. I don't think it is fair for anyone to go through this, and I just wish if it had to happen to me why couldn't I be 60 and not 23. I just feel like these podiatrists should have some kind of cure for this,...isn't this why they went to school?

Re: For some people, yes, but others need more

Julie on 2/06/02 at 08:46 (072767)

Christine, warning bells started clanging when I saw 'constant stretching' in your first post. I know it's hard for an active person to take it in - we desperately want to get better, so we 'do' as much as possible - but sometimes 'less is more'. 'Constant stretching', of whatever kind, is likely to make you worse rather than better. Whatever stretches you're doing, if you are no better after months of doing them, you'd probably do well to back off them and re-think.

Most PF sufferers do not do well with weight-bearing stretches, such as the wall stretch and the hanging-off-the-stair stretch. Non-weight-bearing exercise is less likely to irritate or cause re-injury. Search on 'stretching' and see what people have said.

You also say you don't stand 'for more than a few hours each day'. That's a lot of standing, which can be even more injurious for PF than walking (it was for me). See if you can get off your feet more. (I know that's hard to take in too!)

PF at 60 is no more fun than PF at 23, and usually takes longer to heal. Take heart: virtually all cases of PF resolve with time and conservative treatment.

And of course, as Carole has said, you have the option of ESWT, which you should certainly consider before even thinking 'surgery'.

Re: For some people, yes, but others need more

Christine F on 2/06/02 at 09:13 (072769)

Ok maybe not constant streching, but more than the average person, I do not do weight bearing streches. I lay on my back, or at work I sit in a chair. I do them when I wake up and probably 5 times throughout the day, when I get home and then I ice, so I don't think that I am over doing it. I was, at first, doing them 10 times a day, but with me, I have noticed the more I strech the better I feel, so I think I may start doing them a tad more frequently. I know a few hours is too much, but if I don't work I cannot pay the bills and one of my jobs is sit down, and the other is not but I still sit almost the whole shift because my boss lets me use a chair behind the counter. I can not afford to take weeks off of work and I have checked into other office jobs that are majority sit down, and there is always some standing or walking required. I know this injury isn't anymore fun in someone 20 or 70, but I just wanted to get a little more out of life, and do more competitive running before my dreams were crushed. I cannot and will not spend the rest of my life in a chair or on the couch in front of the TV, I am missing out on life. I am thinking of getting a wheelchair so at least I can go for walks around town with my boyfriend, they are $60 a month and I don't think that my insurace will cover it for someone who just has PF (they just don't seem to understand) but I am working on it, even with insurance bills are expensive. We were suppossed to go to the Olymipcs and now I don't know if that is possible for me with all of the walking and standing that is required, but Shaun is willing to wheel me around do I think it may still be a go. I just can't stop asking the question,...why me?

Re: Better with time????

D.J. on 2/06/02 at 10:30 (072780)

I understand completely what you are feeling and going through. Not only am I not able to run, but I'm not able to do any other activity to distract me from the depression of not being able to run. I would love to ski, bike, or play a few sets of tennis but for now it is painful just to go to the grocery store.
Although I am lucky to have a desk job as a web designer, I've realized over the last year that I'm not happy staring at a computer 8 hours a day. My first love is video, a field that would require me to be on my feet for long periods of time. Also similar to your situation, I have a girfriend that is very sympathetic and patient but I feel really bad when she wants to go for a hike or go to a bar and I can't do that because it will involve walking or standing. I have many friends that are professional runners now that I no longer keep in touch with becuase it really hurts me to hear about running or see a track meet.
Although I can't tell you when the pain will go away, I can tell you from experience that the psychological pain and frustration will get better. Six months ago, I was very depressed, I didn't want to do anything, had an extremely negative attitude, wondered why this had happened to me, and constantly wondered if my life would ever be normal again. I have gotten better in that area, I now don't let the pain ruin my whole attitude on life. Remember that although there are many things that you can't do, there are still many things you can do. Focus on the things you CAN do and keep yourself so busy doing these things that you don't have time to think about what you aren't doing.
It is proven that frustration, loss of sleep, and depression CAN increase pain in Chronic pain sufferers. You have to break that cycle. Do whatever it is that will keep you happy. Things that worked for me were: joining the bandwagon and buying a Harry Potter book, watching an IMAX movie, seeing a broadway show, going to the IMPROV, taking a trip to the mountains, etc. These are all temporary cures but one thing I've learned is that I can't wait for the injury to heal before I continue living life. I have to enjoy life as much as I can and continue to try to find the cure. Also to answer your question, WHY ME? WHY AM I BEING PUNISHED?
When you watch the Olympics in a week you will see many athletes that have triumphed over many obstacles in their lives. You will see athletes that have reached rock bottom before fighting their way back to the top and winning the Gold Medal. I think this is more than a coincidence. Having setbacks only intensifies your appetite for success. You will become stronger. You will want it more than ever. I know if I am ever able to run again I will never take anything for granted again and I will work harder than I ever did before. If you need anyone to chat with or just to vent, feel free to email me at (email removed). If you have AOL Instant Messenger, my IM is mister blubird. I'd love to hear from you. I know from experience that just being able to vent to someone else that understands what you are going through can make you feel much better. Good Luck!

Re: Better with time????

Chris F on 2/06/02 at 12:40 (072799)

Thanks,...I will stay in touch :)

Re: For some people, yes, but others need more

Glennx on 2/06/02 at 13:27 (072805)

Christine: I'd like to echo Julie's caution about stretching. I too have a stubborn PF condition and have tried very diligently to manage it, including stretching -- to a fault.

The first rule of stretching is to 'do no harm.' It's also the toughest to stay with. Took me a long time to learn that my body is WAY too slow at telling me I'm over-stretching, maybe weeks slow. Second rule is to target a goal: an angle of dorsiflexion that will prevent injury, say 80 degrees. If you're there, stretching isn't a priority.

To get to a healthy angle I experimented with all the stretches -- weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing (reps, sets, hold time, warm-ups). In the process I learned that ANY STRETCH felt in the bottoms of my feet is harmful. Even those that feel good. (But it took me a long time to learn that).

I suspect that what's happening is a slight aggravation to the already-tenderized soles of my feet that my body reacts to by sending analgesics to my feet. After a foot-felt stretch I felt a little looser there, more flexible, less pained . . . better. But I was also secretly re-injuring things, and an icing afterwards only blurred the message to my brain.

Six weeks ago I had ESWT treatment. Three weeks ago (at 80 degrees of dorsiflexion) I completely stopped stretching (shoulda done so earlier). I even stopped night splints (after six months of them), and went to a less aggressive arch support (orthotics were also 'stretching' my wounded fascia). Since then I've noticed very slow, lurching, but perceivable progress.

In the last few days I've resumed very light stretching once per day, completely isolated to my calves, and only to maintain my 80 degrees. If I feel anything in my feet during or afterwards, I am assuming I'm over-stretching.

One last lesson I've learned. My body is eager to heal itself (even well past age 23). If it isn't making headway I'm doing something wrong. The more I've subtracted from my treatment plan the better I seem to have progressed.

Re: former competitive runner here

elliott on 2/06/02 at 16:22 (072817)

Not as young as you, and my problem was tarsal tunnel, not PF, but boy, do I ever understand you. Started running in '92. I have had problems for years now. Bilateral surgeries, bilateral complications. My last attempted run was a year and four months ago. I was just told last week by a super-big-name orthopedist that it's very unlikely I'll ever run again, and he told me why, too (although walking painfree would be nice for starters). I'm so far gone with depression about the running and even expected him to say what he did that his words didn't even crush me like they might have at an earlier time. Other than an occasional ray of hope when I get a small sign of possible improvement, like you, I am depressed all the time. I find Time does not heal the depression. If you're a real runner like I (was), you will not so easily make the switch to other pursuits like those happy-go-lucky types who don't get too depressed because they don't have the same narrow-minded focus we runners have when we delve into things with everything we've got. We're not like them; we're superior, so we're always depressed. :-) As you know, there really isn't anything like running. Great thing for loners like me. Nothing like a run to feel good and forget about life for a while. I could cry not having that outlet. And then there's the competitive aspect. I wasn't born with talent, and it could only go so far, but it didn't matter; I somehow stretched this uncoordinated body of mine to accomplishments beyond my wildest dreams. Weight kept dropping, got the ultimate compliment when people started telling me I looked emaciated. My times were all coming down, in everything from the mile to 10 miles. I started taking age-group medals. Yes, nothing Me! What a dream world it was. Then it all came crashing down to earth, and I probably will never run again. The last time I ran the annual mile race down Main Street of a small town (what an exciting race!), back in '98, I was determined to break 5:00 minutes, something my running coworkers said I'd never be able to do (I was twenty seconds slower the year before, twenty seconds slower than that the year before that). My time? A heartbreaking 5:00.9, and I have a newspaper clipping to prove it. That was OK cause I was super-determined to break it the next year. But next year never came, and now I'm too old (41), past my prime, even if I got better soon. Taunting time, crushed dreams.

Enough of that. You have some things going for you. You're still young. Chances are it goes away and you recover, with still plenty of time to realize your dreams, including the running ones. The odds are with you. Consider ESWT like another advised; it's an expensive but nonsurgical option showing promise (I wish Dr. Z or Reid could tell us of any competitive runners who went through the treatment and got back to their previous running levels and what the chances are of that.) I also want to note that your boyfriend seems to really care about you (as my wife about me, even if I don't acknowledge it enough). You must be putting a crimp in his lifestyle, but rather than dumping you, he wants to be with you, spend time with you, wheelchair or what. You are so very lucky.

Keep the faith, runner. The injured runner's motto is: never, ever, give up. If you ever want to 'bitch', I'm here.

--

Re: former competitive runner here

Carole C in NOLA on 2/06/02 at 16:41 (072820)

Elliott, I'm so sorry! What a lousy thing to be told.

If you were quoting your doctor pretty exactly, then he said, 'unlikely', not 'impossible'. You seem like the kind of man who rises to a challenge. As for the age thing, I dunno. A boxer over 35 might as well hang up his gloves, so they said in the sixties. Then along came George. He faced quite a challenge, too, and showed the world what a boxer in his 40's can do.

I'm not saying it would be easy. I'm just saying that I think you might do it.

Carole C