First of all, I wear Birks all the time. (I now have 8 pairs, and no money) I started wearing Birks about 6 months after the PF presented itself. I tried all kinds of athletic shoes, Rockports, other expensive shoes, plus Spenco OTC orthotic inserts, etc. I was ready to spend the $400 for custom orthotics -- almost. That was when I bought Birks.
I'm not recommending Birks in particular. Lots of people can't wear them. But my rationale was -- first, I had to find a brand of shoes (any brand or type, I didn't care what) that could at least support my foot enough to: 1) ease the pain a little; 2) help me get through the day, just enough that I could then concentrate on finding a treatment that worked. I have been very lucky with Birks -- they helped to relieve the agony almost from the first day. Don't get me wrong -- my feet still hurt like crazy, but at least I actually could walk in them and get around -- major factor. So-- my recommendation is, try clogs, try Birks, try Mephistos, try any shoe that will give you even minor relief to get through the day and just manage the "gotta' do" stuff.
Here's what I do now. 1) I do a little stretching -- not the vigorous stretching that many on this board recommend. I do that runner's calf street (you know, pushing into toward a wall -- it's on Scott's main document I think) once or twice a day for about 30-45 seconds on each leg. 2) I take bromelain religiously. I take 3 or 4 capsules a day. Each cap is 500 mgs and 600 gdus. Gel dissolving units (I think that's what it stands for) are apparently the main indicator with bromelain, rather than mgs. I take them between meals, NOT WITH meals, for anti-inflammatory effect. When I forget to take bromelain, I can feel the difference. I started at the end of July and felt the difference in about a week to 10 days.
3) If I am out walking for quite a awhile, I do ice my feet for about 15 minutes when I get home. When I used to be in a lot of pain, I tended to ice quite a bit-- and it seemed that the more I iced, the more I needed to. I tried to reduce the number of times I iced during the winter months and part of me wonders if maybe it didn't help to cut down the frequency.
4) Diet. Here is what I believe has also helped me, along with Birks and bromelain. It's horrible, really -- boring as all get out -- but I know it helps because I can tell the difference when I cheat. I don't eat products with flour, wheat, refined sugar or junk snacks. That has meant the end of pasta, rice (even brown, although my health food friends tell me I'm dead wrong and maybe I am),and hardest for me, all bread products. I don't eat sugar and of course I try to elminate salt whenever possible. I have eliminated caffeine from my life -- that was very hard. To tell the truth -- I really hate eating like this. I don't like meat, so I am down to fish, chicken, vegetables and fruit, which I do eat even though many low carb advocates swear against it. Once a week I will have a sandwich with bread or I will have an English muffin, and it doesn't seem to do much damage. If you research low carb diets on this board, you will find an enormous amount of conflicting opinions and even some sort of nasty debates. Ignore them. Here's the point: Take what you think will work for you, or what you are willing to try, and try it.
5) Exercise. I feel better -- my feet feel better -- when I get some aerobic exercise every day. I use a stationary bike. I really hate it because I used to be a big-time walker and I find a bike boring boring boring. (Also, I have a bad left knee, so I have to go at it in 15-20 sesssions throughout the day -- inconvenience as all get-out.) But -- I feel better when I have aerobic exercise in my life, and more pain when I don't. It took me about 2-3 weeks of steadily exercising morning and night to observe an improvement in my feet.
6) Rest. Ugly truth is, I have rested my poor feet for about a year. I simply refused to "push" any more than I had to just to get through the day. This behavior won't win you friends and it won't necessarily make your family happy. Why? Because you DO look otherwise perfectly normal and they truly can't understand how you can have THAT MUCH pain and still look perfectly normal. My advice is -- ignore them. Do whatever you have to do to feel better.
Here's what else I recommend. If you have a good doc you like, stay with him or her. If not, either switch or simply take the case into your own hands. I tried very very hard to monitor my own symptoms against those of people on this board (who serve as a great benchmark). I spent a lot of time isolating and identifying my own symptoms, and then trying to identify remedies that would match.
I am definitely NOT in favor of invasive treatment right off the bad. I ruled out cortisone to begin with. I have taken non-steroid anti-inflammatories -- and they are wonderful relief because they can reduce inflammation and mask symptoms. Problem is, once you quit the symptoms come back and they can also damage your liver or kidneys. I also ruled out surgery. I was leaning towards Ossotron, but not for another year or two and more of my own efforts.
Laurie, I am not sure I will ever be cured of PF. I still have it. I still have pain on occasion. On a scale of 1 to 10, I used to be at a 9. Now, I'd say 2 or 3. I would love to be cured, but I am not sure what it will take -- and I am unwilling to risk the success I have already experienced because a sizable portion of my life has been returned and I am thrilled. I guess the point is -- take charge of your treatment and look for what will give you enough NATURAL (i.e., not drug-related) relief that your day-to-day agony is over. Try everything that makes sense to you, and give it a couple of weeks anyway to work. Ignore people who don't understand. Remember -- we ourselves may have been people who didn't understand before we got struck with PF. I'll never be that kind of person again, and I bet,neither will you. Take heart and take care. Honestly -- for the first 6 months, I thought nothing would ever work for me. I was thinking about a wheelchair and was wondering if I could actually live with this condition forever -- and contemplating alternatives. Sometimes I wished I could go to sleep and never wake up, just to escape the pain. Take it from me -- SOMETHING will give you relief. It's a matter of finding those things and the right combination of things. Don't give up. Try it all till you land on the right stuff.
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