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My Life with PF...

Posted by Patti K on 4/28/04 at 09:40 (149704)

Hi there. How are you? I'm just another of those wandering out
there on the net who's contracted Plantar Fasciitis. My story is
nothing new, most likely to the readers here in hindsight, but I'd
thought I'd share what my experience has been thus far in the hopes
that it may open the eyes of a new sufferer or close other who's
living with someone with PF. Ready? Ok.. Here goes.

I'm 38 and I've been on my feet all my working life, doing a variety
of jobs ranging from cocktail server ( 15 years) to race horse groom,
master gardener, racetrack crew (These three for 10 years at a local track ) and various medical fields, nursing assistant, EMT ( 3 years hospital surgical and casino ). Never had a sit down job by choice.
I never had a problem with my feet before, until I started racking up
the miles working as a Security Officer/EMT on the Graves shift in a large
midwestern casino. My PF started innocently enough, leaping off a step in high spirits causes a jerk in the ligament under my heel. A momentary twinge, nothing more.

Mind you, I went from busy walking, full time waitress server to a stand behind the line cafeteria job in the wake of the start of the Iraq War part 2. And, my guess is the PF started when I went from standing eight hours in a food line, to walking escorts 12-15 miles a night on busy nights
as security and responding emergency medical technician three months later when I switched departments.

I didn't know what was wrong with my right foot, which was where the twinge was. I got the usual Dr. Scholl's gel insoles and got new shoes
but crippling pain soon made things worse. The first few steps of morning
eased with ice and stretching, but progressed to cramping and sharp heel pain after a sit down lunch and 2/3's the way into my work shift.

This was in September 2003. In November 2003, my PF decided that my walking funny on the right foot needed a buddy, and poof! PF suddenly appeared in my left foot to go along with the party. Same symptoms, not as bad. I learned from my foot podiatrist that people from my particular casino are numerous because of the wool carpet on bare concrete construction of all the floors in the monster place. Easily, dozens of people in all departments at work have PF.

Things that worked for pain control, soft, velcro night splints which I purchases on Ebay for around 60 each, icing just above the heel pad for 15 minutes before sleep. Self made Ibuprofen cream, 3 crushed tablets in Icy Hot ointment spread over the feet from heel to toes, foot biofoamed impressions made into custom hard plastic orthotics in conjunction with my own pad of foam underneath made from a length wise split garden kneeling pad cut into foot shapes. Hard heat and mechanical foot massage at day's end from a mechanical foot massage console and very clever pads made with velcro straps that look for all the world like mini trapezoid pot holders that fit under the foot arch when put on. Also, taping using athletic tape, works on the painful days.

The velcro pads helped a very very painful week immediately, my pain going from a 7 or 8 of 10 to a 5, even while working. Night splints are a close second, easing the first morning stabs by around 40-50% of that received without them. The homemade Ibuprofen Cream helps turn around days where I get heel flares and seem to have gone back to square one with a particularly heavy night of escort work or guest medicals. The best combination I've found to work for me is a regiment of night splinting, icing before naps or bed for 15 minutes, that foot massage on the tender spots for 20 minutes before bed, Ibuprofen cream on flare up days before bed, use of the garden pad foot insert I made in conjunction with the
arch orthotic I got from my foot doctor whom I found on Ebay whenever I'm on my feet, and then in 10 day stretches, one Aleve ( Naproxin ) tablet before working a shift. (Takes effect before I get to work). Two weeks ago, I read about the effects of glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM for soft tissue pain. I know and you know that the plantar fascia is a ligament, but it's a week into that liquid supplement and my pain's ticked down another notch, sitting now around at a 3 or 4 in the right foot with the morning first steps and almost gone except for tightening in the left foot.

The supplement's name is called Hydra Joint Total and contains Vitamin C as well.

For mechanics, I'm 157 pounds, that's 2% overweight and standing at 5'6 inches with no prior medical conditions except for hearing loss from a work related incident on a rescue.

I've been put on a low carbohydrate diet to lose the 2% excess, every pound less is a pound less stress on the foot says my doc and an exercise plan called the Windsor Pilates, which you can do completely off your sore feet. Got that exercise DVD trio on Ebay too.

Secrets to pain management? Do not walk barefoot, ever, massage and stretching exercises are everything, night splints, getting those expensive, step correcting shoes, ( trying Z Coils now with great success )
seeing a foot doc to get those expensive CUSTOM foot orthotics, and the minimum use of over the counter pain meds. For me, Aleve was everything.

Ice quickly turns around flares when used with Ibuprofen cream. (on me)
For my weekends, I literally tape my custom orthotic inserts onto my feet with athletic tape to avoid the weird footwork I have a tendency to do avoiding the heel pain stabs.

With all those things I've done and mentioned in my letter here, my ten month duration bilateral PF is finally responding. My right foot is now at a 2 or 3 on morning first step pain and my right foot is only a 5-6 of 10 then.

The healing itching tightness I associate with non 'new' damage is happening more and more on awakening each day whenever I follow what works for me to the letter.

Sure, I could cure myself in four to six weeks if I could afford to not work, but that is not an option in my occupation, I'm in a badly needed niche at the casino as EMT working with the fire department.

So, the doc says, my healing will be slow to creeping for the next year under the distances I must walk and length of time standing at work.

Moods swing down on flare days, but up on complete pain turn around days,
(this is my first experience with a disability I recognize, way different then the deafness I have corrected adequately with two hearing aids)

I've realized some patterns in my PF. If I skip massaging and foot stretches, I slide backwards, if I walk barefoot, at all at any time, backwards. If I don't use my two night splints, backwards. If I skip the supplements of Vitamin C and the Hydra Joint, backwards. Well, you get the picture.

I guess the secret of handling ongoing PF is to find your 'works best' set of treatments and aids and stick with them religiously.

Oh yeah, the foot stretches I do that work. Toe pointing with heel touching the ground, marble pickups with toes, towel crunching with toes, step achilles tendon stretching, (hanging heels downwards with just toes on stairs) ankle rolls with pointed toes.

Family has been understanding about the invisible hobbles I have. Especially my boyfriend. He's a charm about my easing off housework on bad morning or flare ups and talks me through the rough times.

Work has been supportive. Some of my higher up bosses told me how
they dealt and beat their PF while still working on the casino floors.

And then, there's this message board here and on other sites.

Just thought I'd share my road and a bit of my life dealing with PF.
Maybe I can encourage or help someone else not so far along on discovering what works for them.

I'll keep up on updates.

Right now, I'm taping up and heading out to work the flower beds outside
the window. It's a rare 86 in Minnesota today and I'm not going to miss it
because of my feet.

All smiles,

Patti K
NREMT-B/Security Officer

Re: My Life with PF...

R C on 4/28/04 at 09:50 (149705)

Dear Patti,

I am sorry to hear of your pain. My guess is that the biggest factor in your continued fight with PF is the long hours on your feet. Is there a desk job you can do for several weeks? What about monitoring security cameras, or dealing blackjack? I think your doc is right that a period of uninterrupted rest will be an essential part of recovery.

Good luck, and keep us posted.


Re: My Life with PF...

Rick R on 4/28/04 at 16:19 (149729)


It sounds like you have gained a fair amount of solid knowledge about PF since the fall of 03. Think long term. If you lay out a plan to beat it thinking weeks opposed to months, you might not make the right choices. That extended rest sounds like a good approach with the long term focus. Be careful of the rest. If the root cause ( or major contributor)of your PF is a short or tight Plantar Fascia tendon, this may get only tighter with rest. This could be why the 'good' foot decided to join in the fun as your activities were diminished. The resumption of activity needs to be very gradual. You may not want to stretch much for a while, I couldn't with active symptoms, but you do need to work stretching back in before moving on to more time on your feet.

I'm a major proponent of taping. I like your concept of taping in your supports and have done so myself. How about taping the your foot first then taping in the supports? For sigificant activity I tape first then use an ace bandage to wrap in supports. Worth a try perhaps. Search on my name and my taping methods should be there.


Re: My Life with PF...

Suzanne D. on 4/28/04 at 17:04 (149734)

Patti, I admire your spunk, your humor, and your creativity!

Thanks for sharing your story with us. I could identify with many things you wrote.

Best wishes for continued improvement,
Suzanne :)

Re: My Life with PF...

Mike W on 4/30/04 at 08:50 (149823)

Hello Patti,

Some of the exercises you are performing are bad choices and may be doing more harm than good.

You should ckeck out my website for more info http://www.foottrainer.com and then click incorrect exercises.

I hope this helps you.


Mike W