Home The Book Dr Articles Products Message Boards Journal Articles Search Our Surveys Surgery ESWT Dr Messages Find Good Drs video

How long did you wait?

Posted by Rich on 11/04/03 at 14:41 (136361)

I have read in several places that the sooner you seek treatment for PF, the faster your recovery will be. I was wondering how true this really is. I sought treatment about 1 week after the onset of symptoms. I was given an injection at my first visit. I started PT 2 weeks later and picked up my custom orthotics a week after that. 3 weeks after the orthotics I began wearing night splint. I thought that I would be rid of PF in a month or two since I was on top of it. It is now 4 months later and I still have it.

I am curious to know how long others waited before seeking treatment, and how long you have had PF. If you beat it, how long did it take?

I was also wondering about severity. I think that my case may not be as bad as others on the board. I can sometimes walk with minimal or no pain for a little while. The morning pain has decreased with the night splint. Sometimes it hurts when I am sitting. Even in the beginning, my foot would hurt sitting at work, etc. and the pain would be at its least when I got up and started walking. This seems contrary to all I have read.

On Halloween, my foot was bothering me all day. I wanted to go trick or treating with my small kids that night. We did for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. I was glad when it was time to quit. When I got home, my foot stopped hurting - I was walking around the house with no pain. I really can't figure that one out !

Well I know I am babbling now, but I just want to hear others' experiences and reactions to my situation.

Re: How long did you wait?

BrianJ on 11/04/03 at 15:06 (136366)

Rich --

I have had bilateral PF for more than 5 years. It started when I was running high mileage and playing sports on hard surfaces. If you catch PF early, I think the most important thing you can do is rest. Stay off your feet, and keep your feet elevated when you are sitting down. When they start feeling better, DON'T rush out and put stress on them again; rather, give them plenty of time off and then work back to normal activities very gradually.

PF is very unpredictable. The pain can come and go, and the location of the pain can move around. The same is true for PF treatments -- what works for someone else may not work for you. You must use some trial and error.

If your pain continues, you may want to rule out certain other sources of heel pain such as rheumatoid arthritis, spinal stenosis, etc. (I'm assuming you've already had x-rays to rule out a heel fracture). However, PF is certainly the most likely cause of your heel pain.

Hope this helps.

Re: How long did you wait?

Carole C in NOLA on 11/04/03 at 15:19 (136367)

I got PF on September 22, 2001, and by October I was reading this message board. I had a regular appointment with my rheumatologist (for osteoarthritis) on November 28, 2001, so I decided to wait and ask him about it. I thought it might be arthritis.

He x-rayed my foot, showed me the heelspurs in the x-ray, watched me walk, told me that my overly vigorous exercising on my new exercycle was probably responsible, and recommended that I see a C.Ped he knows with a wonderful reputation. I couldn't get in to see her until December 6th, but then she made some good orthotics for me. She also spent 2-3 hours with me and educated me about PF self treatment, gave me handouts, made my orthotics while I waited and then adjusted them until they were perfect, and so on.

So, basically I waited nine and a half weeks before diagnosis, and eleven weeks before treatment.

During November, December, and January of 2001, my pain was very severe. I could hardly walk and could not get groceries or do things much at all. I really could not take care of myself, and that scared me so much (since I am alone). Towards the end of January, I was beginning to 'get it' and figured out most of the things that were causing setbacks. Once those were eliminated, I was a lot better. In February I was able to go to Wal-Mart. By mid-March, I was able to go to sea for a couple of weeks on a working cruise (I'm an oceanographer).

I determinedly continued to pursue self treatment with the help of friends here on the message board, as I had since Nov. 2001, and was free of symptoms by June, 2002. They have re-appeared in much MUCH milder form from time to time, due to doing stupid things. However, I have led a reasonably normal life since February-March, 2002.

Most people with PF feel a decrease in pain while walking. Standing in line is much more painful than walking. However, overdoing the walking can cause a relapse for me and (I think) for most other people, too. Be careful, because often the effect of what you do to your feet shows up 48-72 hours later rather than the very next day.

Carole C

Re: How long did you wait?

Rich on 11/04/03 at 15:53 (136368)

Should I sleep with my foot elevated? I am using a night splint now. Do all of you elevate your feet in bed?

Re: How long did you wait?

Carole C in NOLA on 11/04/03 at 16:11 (136370)

I don't elevate my feet, though I did put my feet and lower legs on a pillow once or twice (when my pain was severe and I couldn't sleep otherwise).

I haven't used a night splint, but I do gentle stretching before standing.

Carole C

Re: How long did you wait?

Aly on 11/04/03 at 16:34 (136373)

I don't sleep with my feet elevated, but I do elevate them for about an hour in front of the TV every night and find it really helps me. My feet tend to be much better the next day if I elevate the night before...

Re: How long did you wait?

Suzanne D. on 11/04/03 at 17:16 (136380)

I called my family doctor the week the pain started (first week of June two years ago) as it came on so suddenly and with such severity. I saw him the next week, and he diagnosed PF, gave me a paper which explained the wall stretch and the grabbing a towel with the toes, advised freezing water in a soda bottle and rolling it under my foot, and said it wouldn't go away 'any time soon'. He told me that if I felt I needed it, he could later give me a cortisone shot but said that it would hurt terribly. So I never asked for that.

I limped through the summer, literally, and by the end of the first week back to school in August (I'm a teacher), I was in agony. I knew I had to do something else. I searched the internet that Friday night and found Heelspurs.com - which was the best help I received!

The next day I found a store about an hour away that carried Birks and bought a pair and got an appointment with a podiatrist the next week. He x-rayed, taped both feet (by then it was not just the left foot but both), and prescribed a week of prednisone and then Naproxin. He said the Birks were fine if they felt alright to me. I went back two or three more times to him, but when he advised me to do the hanging off the stairs stretch and then come back whenever I felt I needed to, I decided not to return. I had improved a great deal by then thanks to the shoes and taping and Naproxin and the Yoga stretches I learned from this site.

I would say that 8 - 9 months after the beginning of my PF, I was improved to a great extent - to the extent that I didn't have to sit in the car and wait while my family went in Wal-Mart, I didn't think about my foot every waking moment, I didn't wake up in the night any more because of the pain, and my feet didn't hurt when I drove.

I am still careful, and I still have bad periods, and I am not totally back to what I was before, but I don't center my life around what my feet can and cannot do. For that I am immensely grateful!

You are off to a good start with treating your PF. Be diligent, and you will probably be one of the lucky ones who doesn't have to battle it for too long.

Best wishes,
Suzanne :)

Re: How long did you wait?

john k on 11/04/03 at 18:37 (136385)

I know that any weight gain even a few pounds can aggravate your PF.

Re: How long did you wait?

Carole C in NOLA on 11/04/03 at 19:37 (136387)

And I know that that's not true for a good many people who have posted on this board through the years.

I never had any foot problems while at my heaviest for many years. Then, I got PF after LOSING 80 pounds in the prior year and a half. I recovered from it while gaining back 30 in the two years since.

While it's a good thing to lose weight at any time if you need to, and I would encourage you to lose weight and see how that affects your PF, I wouldn't guarantee the slightest effect on PF from it.

PF is often called a repetitive motion injury. People trying to increase their exercise need to do so carefully in order to avoid injuring their feet.

Carole C

Re: How long did you wait?

Carole C in NOLA on 11/04/03 at 19:40 (136389)

I love the way you described your improvement: 'I am not totally back to what I was before, but I don't center my life around what my feet can and cannot do.'

That's how I feel now, too. And that makes all the difference in the world, to me. :)

Carole C

Re: How long did you wait?

Ellen J. on 11/04/03 at 20:08 (136391)

Hi Rich,
I went to the doctor as soon as I realized I had P.F. I had been a runner and suddenly the arch pain started up. I immediately stopped running and made an appt. to see a doc. I made the mistake of going to a physical therapist, however, before seeing an actual doctor. The reason my problems went on so long (despite trying to nip it in the bud by seeing a doc and stopping the running) is because I didn't have access to this website and all the great info it provides. I finally discovered this site after 2 yrs. of P.F. problems and it was the best thing I ever came across. The doctors and the people who post here are so nice to take the time to offer all their suggestions and I sure wish I had discovered this site sooner. My opinion is that even though you aren't healing as quickly as you'd like, doesn't mean you'll have the foot problems forever. I think it's a matter of figuring out what it is your feet need, which sometimes takes time. I think some people are lucky enough to figure it out right off while others take much longer. It took me a long time to heal because the standard 'cures' didn't apply to my feet. Regarding the odd times your feet hurt; that is one of the very confusing things that some of us have experienced (maybe all of us, but am speaking for myself). Your pain level sounds very similar to mine, and from what I have read, others have had much worse pain with severe burning at night. I feel so sorry for them! I've had some pain at night during the worst of it, which did hurt, but never intense burning.
I hope this little bit of info on my experience might shed a little light on some aspect of this frustrating condition.
Ellen J.

Re: How long did you wait?

Suzanne D. on 11/04/03 at 21:26 (136396)

It sure does, Carole! :>

Suzanne :)

Re: How long did you wait?

Julie on 11/05/03 at 02:14 (136412)

I found this website and saw a podiatrist within two weeks of the onset of my PF. What I learned from both set me on the path to recovery, which took five months. Taping, orthotics, never going barefoot, and attention to footgear (I always wear either good quality hiking shoes outdoors, or Birkenstock Arizonas indoors) and above all, rest, were the keys for me. Rest for me meant cutting back drastically on all weight-bearing activity, including walking: I took buses and taxis even for short distances.

There was no improvement for two months; after that improvement was steady. At five months there was a dramatic leap forward and I considered myself 95% healed. For a year after that there were twinges, and first-step pain if I had overdone things the previous day. For the past two years I have had no pain, ever, and there is no limitation on my walking or any other activity.

I continued taping for a few months afer the dramatic-at-five-months leap forward. That tailed off naturally once my feet realised they no longer needed it. I remain vigilant. I always wear my orthotics, and shoes as detailed above. I don't go barefoot except when I am teaching. PF can and does recur: I don't want it to.

If you can walk with minimal or no pain for a little while, your case is, as you suspect, not a bad one, and your outlook is good as long as you take responsibility for self-treatment. Maybe try to avoid being on your feet for an hour and a half! As I said yesterday, rest is important - but perhaps the very mildness of your case is stopping you from realising that. Also - and I don't think anyone has mentioned this yet, but it does seem to be important - don't go barefoot. It strains the fascia.

I am sure, given all you have said, that taping would help you. You've had a lot of advice about that - have you looked into it?

Re: How long did you wait?

Rich on 11/05/03 at 08:44 (136424)

I had the PT tape my feet last night. It feels like it is helping a bit. I feel less strain on the heel. She showed me how to do it, so I can tape every day. I am going to try it for a while. Thanks for the great advice!

Re: How long did you wait?

john h on 11/05/03 at 09:04 (136426)

I waited some months and chose to run through the pain and have paid the piper with 8 years of bi-laterial PF.

Re: How long did you wait?

BrianG on 11/05/03 at 09:58 (136431)

Like John, I spent too much time on my feet, despite my Pod's advice. I'd get a cortisone shot, then go to work, 3-11pm, walking on all hard floors, parking lots, etc, for at least 1/2 of my shift. I was also working OT, during this time. I tried a lot of remedies, but my biggest mistake was not resting enough, I thought I could work through it (PF). I was wrong! Almost 10 years now :*(


PS: My right heel starting hurting on a Saturday, by Monday I was on the phone begging for a doctor's appointment. It hit me hard!

Re: How long did you wait?

anne on 11/06/03 at 16:42 (136581)

The onset of my PF was very sudden, and in about 3 days I couldn't even walk from my bedroom to the bathroom (I had to crawl). I went to see a physio in the first week, and was told it was related to my back. It started healing quite quickly and within a few weeks I was in no pain walking anymore.

I went to see my doctor (for somehthing else) and mentioned the heel pain, and he thought it was a heel bruise and suggested that now that its no longer painful to walk that I start exercising again. So I did some very gentle exercises and straight after the pain came back and has stayed.

3 months later I saw a podiatrist who gave me orthotics which I wore for a year. The pain was about the same (it hurts after the first 15 steps). I haven't been able to return to anything I used to do (running, tae-box, dancing, shopping, walking the dog etc).

After a year I went to see an orthotist and he suggested taking the orthotics out and using ones made of foam that he had. (In the meanwhile, I'd discovered this site and have been treating myself with ice, stretches etc.) When I took the orthotics out, my feet started to get better! Then I put his foam orthotics back in after 2 months of no orthotics, and my feet started to hurt again.

i found this very confusing b/c orthotics are meant to help b/c I have flat feet.

I've recently started wearing a night splint and am going to have an injection.

I have been in pain for 1 and a half years.

I can't help wondering to myself however, if I hadn't started gentle exercises again from the recommendations of my doctor, maybe I wouldn't be in pain now.

the rate at which I was healing in the beginning was really amazing looking back on it. And that is considering that I didn't actively do anything to encourage it to heal.

Now I'm struggling so much, spending so much of my day in pain and so many hours trying to make it better, and there really isnt any noticeable improvement.


soon it will be time for me to apply for phd scholarships, and I would like to be able to accept whatever I am offered. But considering how much pain i'm in, I really dont think I'd survive in a city where I had to catch puiblic transport or walk everywhere. Just grocery shopping without a car would be hell.

I feel like I've already had to miss so many opportunities and events in my life b/c of this, I dont want to have to give up any more


Re: How long did you wait?

Rich on 11/10/03 at 08:00 (136931)

Hi Anne

I am rally sad to hear about your suffering so much for so ling. Have you thought about ESWT or surgery? What has your doc said about it?