Finally (six months after first attack) the doctor decided to have the orthotics sent back for major adjustments and I went out and bought Mephisto sandles -- hard foot bed with higher arch support than Birkenstocks. This gave me my first relief -- not pain free, but better. At the same time I went back to swimming and started doing my hamstring stretching exercises in the pool. At the same time I stood in the water and lifted myself up on my toes and down for a count of 30 (5 times a week after lap swimming). A couple of weeks later I began to feel that my feet were getting stronger and better able to handle walking. I still wasn't pain free, but better.
About this same time I tried Reflexology (which had worked very well for some neck problems) and though the reflexologist made no claims I eventually did 3 one-hour sessions over about 8 weeks. I felt then and still feel that these sessions helped first by loosening up the tension in my feet and also by doing whatever unexplainable stuff reflexology does. (I had MORE pain immediately after each of these sessions, but after about 3-4 days the pain would lessen.)
By the time I got my orthotics back I was feeling OK with a level of pain I felt I could live with. The adjusted orthotics worked like majic! I went back to work absolutely without pain. (Sept. 1994) I'm convinced that the work I did, in combination with the adjusted orthotics, really did the trick.
Last year I stopped swimming for a couple of months -- too busy. But the pain started to come back. I went back to the pool and back to standing on my toes and stretching my hamstrings and stretching my feet on the pool steps. It took a few weeks but I'm back to being pain free. Occasionally I get a "twinge" that reminds me that I have to keep up my foot stretching and strengthening exercises. I use the Birkenstock blue insole in "normal" shoes and my custom ($400) orthotics in my Avia sneakers. (Everybody has a "best" brand of sneakers but it takes some hunting.)
My message: hang in there! Try to listen to your body. Find a way to get strong. Don't walk on the beach in bare feet. Try on lots of shoes until you find something that helps. Try the non-invasive New Age stuff -- it can't hurt and it might help.
Good luck. God bless...