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Don't even know where to begin...

Posted by WendyM on 1/02/04 at 02:34 (141120)

Hi, and Happy New Year. I've been poking around this site and getting a lot of information, yet I have a lot of questions, so, I hope you don't mind if I post and vent? Thanks.

I am just miserable with plantar fasciitis (nice to finally know how to spell the darned thing). I'm a professional singer, and a few years ago I started teaching to get my kids into this private school. I teach 1st grade and their Jr. choir, and truthfully never sit. Because of this lifestyle...standing and walking all day, sitting and planning and grading the rest of the day (needless to say working 7 days a week now with my singing I've put on weight...no time for myself)...I've developed this foot problem that has become downright crippling. It started so strange, really, with trouble getting up from the carpet during carpet time. I thought it was arthritis because it seemed all my joints hurt, and the circulation was shot in my legs! Then the numbness and tingling started, and I thought it was diabedes. I started following this up with Dr. visits having diabedes tests, nerve conduction tests...all to find out, now a year and a half later that is plantar faciitis and heel spurs. The thing is, when people ask me 'What is it that's the matter with you??' and I tell them, they say, 'Oh, I had that, and it just went away'...or, 'I never needed a cane...' I wonder if this is as bad as it gets with others or am I just a big baby? I needed a wheelchair to Christmas shop because I knew in the middle of it I just wouldn't be able to walk any more. I'm so confused! My Dr. isn't insisting on orthodics, he just gave me a cortisone shot in one of my feet, (at that point my good foot hadn't been hurting yet) and he mentioned clipping a tendon to release pressure in my foot. Well, that doesn't sound good to me...especially when I haven't tried shoe inserts. Recently I have a new lovely pain and that's on the top side of my arch...ugh...OK...

Let me get to my questions I guess. What should I do first? I'm thinking read that book on this site. What is the best type of Dr. to see for this? I have just gone to this podiatrist and my primary care physician who is the person who gave me the (EMG)nerve conduction test. Some have mentioned a sports Dr.. What is the difference? What is the best type of orthotics to get? This site mentions those you can order yourself...are there better ones? Does a cast help everyone (reading the post of the waitress)? Is there a brand name for a preferred orthotic. At this point I'm frozen in time with this...I'm singing great and hesitate to audition for any good gigs and hesitate to get another teaching job knowing that I'm dealing with this chronic issue. When I really focus on this I just have to cry because I feel so trapped by it...and I know that you all know what I'm talking about. So, thanks. Thanks for listening, and I appreciate how supportive you are to each other and look forward to any advice you can lend. ~WendyM

Re: AAgggggggghhhhhh! Where's the delete button.

WendyM on 1/02/04 at 08:20 (141133)

Obviously I'm in the wrong place! This is so pathetic it's funny. Can someone please help me get this post to the right place?? LOL. Nothing like embarassment to help you get over your pain!! ~WendyM

Re: Don't even know where to begin...

Carole C in NOLA on 1/02/04 at 09:16 (141136)

Wendy, first don't worry about where the post is. We all do that from time to time. If the Powers That Be care, they'll move it; otherwise, it doesn't matter.

I'd like to comment and maybe answer some of your questions. First, what was your diagnosis? Surgery should only be considered as a last resort for plantar fasciitis (PF) since nearly all patients recover without surgery.

You guessed right; you should begin by reading the heel pain book on this site, reading the message boards, and asking any questions that you may have.

As to what kind of doctor to see, I think most people prefer a podiatrist. It's hard to find a good doctor for PF, no matter what his specialty.

Soft or semi-rigid custom orthotics are helpful to some of us, though they are not cheap. Your doctor can write a prescription for them that you can take to a C.Ped (Certified Pedorthist) and he will make them for you.

I haven't read too many posts either praising or condemning casts, and I've never had one. I suppose that's up to you.

It takes a long time to get over PF, and if you can arrange your life so that you sit most of the time, you are more likely to heal. Some people do continue to teach with PF (Suzanne D is an example of someone who's continued to teach first grade and is also recovering from PF). It's a lot easier to recover if you have a desk job, though.

Depression is only natural with PF, and I think most of us can really relate to how you feel. When you can't live a normal life, when you are in constant pain, and when very few people understand what you are going throuh, it would be abnormal not to be depressed!

OK, I think that's all your questions. Now, here are some things that helped me to recover from PF:

1. Rest. I have a desk job and stayed off of my feet whenever possible.

2. Custom orthotics. I happened to get good ones. Some people aren't as lucky.

3. Birkenstock shoes. The Birkenstock 'Arizona' or 'Boston' model seem to work best for those of us with PF. They have an orthotic footbed made of cork that is helpful (not all styles of Birkenstock have this same orthotic footbed, though, so be careful).

4. Not standing or taking a single step without my custom orthotics or Birkenstocks on. In the shower, I wear waterproof shower shoes. Never, never go barefoot until you have recovered.

5. Gentle stretching. Julie's yoga stretches are good (click on the word 'Yoga' for her description of them.

6. Icing by putting my foot on a bag of frozen peas (they conform to the shape of my foot, and they are colder than gel packs). I do this off and on for a half hour usually, being careful not to get frostbitten.

7. Listening to one's feet - - if something hurts, don't do it! Healing can't occur if you are causing yourself repeated minor injuries by doing things that hurt. But, you should read the website and try different things to see what helps your individual feet.

I hope this helps!

Carole C

Re: AAgggggggghhhhhh! Where's the delete button.

marie on 1/02/04 at 09:25 (141138)

Hi WendyM,

I am so sorry to hear that you have had to deal with the pain of PF. There are several teachers here who have PF. I have TTS and PF. I am certainly no expert but I'll give you some guidance as best I can. The best doctor to see is a Podiatrist. A sports doctor may have been suggested as many athletes suffer from this condition. There are several doctors here who can give you advice if needed. Visit the 'Ask a Doctor' board. Orthotics have helped many here. I wasn't one of them. I did find great relief from a brand of shoes called 'Birkenstocks'. It does take time to recover from PF and you're not going to do it if you continue to keep your normal lifestyle. Scaleback. I teach art. I also didn't think I could teach sitting down. At some point I didn't have a choice my feet got to bad and I was in a wheelchair for some time. Adjust your teaching style. I know that's easier said than done but for your health you must. I have a stool and a table in the middle of my students. This way I'm never to far from any of them and they can hold things up and show me. Let them come to you. When you sing you may want to keep a stool on stage. Your symptoms sound all to familar. I hope this helps you a little.

best wishes marie

Re: Don't even know where to begin...

wendyn on 1/02/04 at 10:10 (141148)

Wendy - your 'getting up from the carpet' pain sounds a lot like PF. But - PF does not usually cause numbness and tingling. Have you had a second opinion on your feet? Maybe a different perspective from an orthapedic surgeon will give you some new insight.

Unfortunately, sometimes PF can be chronic, and some folks do end up suffering a lot more than those simple 4 week cases that go away by themselves. Many people here have run into the comments that you're hearing now. It can make dealing with pain so much harder. I've always found that the less I tell people about what is wrong with my feet,the easier it is NOT to have a conversation about it. It's pretty rare that you'll find anyone with any helpful comments anyway, so sometimes the less said - the better.

When you say you have gained weight - how much have you gained? If you have become quite overweight - you need to know that many doctors will pin most of your foot problems on your weight. (Of course, this doesn't help you feel better in any way). Losing weight may or may not help, but it's worth the effort. People with foot problems can usually manage things like swimming, biking, and weight training without too much aggravation. I know Real Life can be a big factor when it comes to finding the time to exercise.

Regardless of what happens and what you decide to do, feel free to come here and vent - that's what this place is for!!!!!

Re: Don't even know where to begin...

francesc on 1/02/04 at 17:50 (141180)

hi wendy,

i am a pretty new sufferer like you. just about a few months ahead of you so i can TOTALLY relate to your problems and especially the depression. i have 2 young children and i'm a stay-at-home mom but i volunteer in the class once a week and i know how much you're on your feet.

first of all, you are not a big baby. your pain is definitely more severe than those other people's because you are on your feet a lot. plus, once you get a severe flare-up it takes a lot longer to recover than if you just get a mild case of it. everyone's feet are different and what they experience is different than you.

as for what kind of doctor to see, i am seeing a podiatrist. i saw my regular physician but, they know very little about the condition. everyone tells you 1 or 2 different things to try. from what you read here, you will probably have to try many things simultaneously to recover from the PF.

if you haven't already tried over the counter insoles, you should try those. for now, you should not wear any high heeled shoes or anything that is unstable for your heel. some people also find heel cups helpful as they help stablize your heel.

the rest of the info you will find in the Heel Book on this site. almost everyone sites Rest, Ice, Massage, and stretching as some of the things that help them relieve the pain. i would try all of them a couple times a day at least.

also, it's not mentioned here as much but, if you see a doctor, ask about going to a physical therapist. they will be able to help you with some exercises, stretches, and a great massage for your aching feet. plus, they might also be able to help you determine what type of treatment works best for you. they may also help figure out what you can do to alter parts of your lifestyle that will help you recover.

best of luck and keep us posted on your progress.


Re: Don't even know where to begin...

BrianG on 1/02/04 at 19:18 (141187)

Hi WendyM,

Actually today is probably the luckiest day of your life! You can't imagine how many people rush off to surgery, under their doctors guidance (because they always heal 95% of their patients, wrong!). Some of these people then show up with here with pain much worse than thier original pain. The foot contains a LOT of nerves, and one small nick, or miss, is all it takes for a lifetime of agony. Yes, your heel pain can get much worse than it already is !!!

Im not saying not to have surgery, but it should be the LAST option you choose during your healing period. Even then, you should do your homework, to ensure that your surgeon is the very best that you can afford. Not all foot surgeons are created equall.

Good luck

Re: Don't even know where to begin...

Kathy G on 1/03/04 at 09:02 (141213)

Hi Wendy M,

I'm so sorry that you are having such a tough time. There is little I can add except to say that seeing a Podiatrist would be my first line of attack. If you've had any tingling besides that one episode, I would make sure I discussed that with him as he might want you to see an Orthopedic Surgeon. You could have just been sitting in an awkward position that one time. I also think many of us tend to tense up our muscles due to the chronic pain and if you're in the wrong position, you can end up with a tingling feeling. Be sure to mention it if it happens again, though.

Don't feel that you are a wimp! Sometimes the pain is so difficult to handle and no one can know how it is affecting you. Chronic pain wears you down. Like Wendy, if I tell them people anything at all, I just say that I have foot problems and leave it at that. Most people don't know what PF is. I do find, more and more, in social gatherings, that if I sit down, sooner or later someone joins me. Otherwise, I just sit because that's the way it has to be. You were wise to use a wheelchair to do your Christmas shopping. Many of us have used wheelchairs when in the throes of this lovely malady.

Remember that 95% of people with PF are cured. The amount of time is what varies and everyone responds in a different manner. The Heel Pain Book is a wonderful source of information and these boards can help you through the tough times. Don't hesitate to vent. Hang in there!

Re: Don't even know where to begin...

WendyM on 1/03/04 at 09:21 (141217)

Thank you everyone, for your input. Can't tell you how much it means to me. With my principal mentioning I should use the vacation to get to the bottom of this, (my podiatrist was gone for the vacation) I was feeling pressure to find a quick solution. Now I realize that's not so easy with this. I know weight may be a contributing factor, I had just lost 30 lbs before going into teaching, and my 1st year I put most of it back on...but this was weight I was already used to. I was wearing flat shoes, no support...and never sneakers. Now, I don't dare do any walking without my New Balance walkers or my SAS sandals. I have already been using inserts (over the counter) and am calling my Dr. this morning to tell him I need custom orthotics. My friend Kathy, a soprano I work with, is a physical therapist, I called her and she mentioned she would do the inserts for me if I needed and could work with me on excersizes. Well now...I have to say after all of your posts and that of Carol's (the sloppy sentimental one) I feel so empowered! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I'm going to be self-centered with this and not try to tough it out anymore...I want to heal.

Like...this is what I did. I have this singing temple job...and when I realized our sevice was cancelled I used the time to go to this mall in town. I forgot my cane because I thought I'd just be singing. Well, I just forgot about my feet! I was so anxious about shopping I marched into the middle of the mall, and I was stuck! I couldn't walk more. Now I've heard this kind of advice from friends and family...'I just jumped off a table and broke my heel spurs off...saved me from having any surgery!' and...'While you're watching TV, roll your foot on a rolling pin, you need to break up that bone...you're gonna have to suffer through this until it heals'. So, I though, 'I won't go back to the car...I'll heel-toe it through this mall, kind of like rolling my foot on a rolling pin.' And that's what I did...God only knows what I did to my feet! By the time I got to my car about 1 hour later, I was just in tears from the pain. Well, yesterday, at the Kohls, I needed to return something with a line a mile long at the counter. I told the lady behind me as I nodded to my cane, 'please hold my spot, I need to sit...' and I hopped onto a clothes counter and sat the 30 minutes while all these people patiently stood. I had looked for their wheelchairs, but there were none. Thanks for putting this all in perspective for me! It's going to be a struggle, but I feel very hopeful! ~WendyM