Success - 95% Cured!!

Posted by Leon on 5/10/99
I know that there's a lot of people who check this site who have been suffering with this awful p.f. for a long, long time and who have tried everything without success. I'm offering my story in the hopes that some will be encouraged. I first noticed heel pain in early Nov., 1998 and started home remedies (rolling a golf ball along the bottom of my foot, using ice frozen in paper cups and peeling the paper away before using on my heel) in Dec. When that didn't help, I saw a podiatrist in mid-January. Here's what I wrote at the time:

"My podiatrist claims a 100% cure rate for p.f. using a combination of night splints and custom-made orthotics.
However, I've just started using night splints and my orthotics haven't arrived yet, so I can't advise you whether they
actually work or not. The ones I got through my podiatrist are expensive, but insurance covers 80%. If they work, it's
worth it, but I won't know for another 7 weeks or so. Good luck!" (1/20/99)

I got my orthotics (very expensive - $395 and not covered by insurance) about 3 weeks later (early Feb. - the hard plastic kind) and have been wearing them all the time ever since I got them. At first, I hated them and for a couple of days felt pain shooting up my hip on one side. Then, my good foot (the one that didn't have the p.f. to begin with) felt like I was getting p.f. in it caused by the orthotics! Needless to say, I wasn't a happy camper and just worked with my podiatrist - telling him what I was feeling, when I was getting discouraged, etc. He suggested that I cut back on the # of hours that I wore the orthotics (although I didn't need to because the hip pain went away after a couple of days), started taping both feet when the second one began hurting, etc. but didn't waiver in his belief that the combination of the orthotics and the night splints would solve my problem. In mid-March, when I wasn't progressing as rapidly as he would have liked, he had me go to a physical therapist, who did ultra-sound treatments and massage on my heel, as well as ice and stimulation treatments. I ended up going to the p.t. for 9 visits, which were covered by insurance. One of the things the podiatrist and especially the physical therapist stressed was the importance of stretching (the p.t. recommended 4-5 times per day). I guess this is especially important as you get older - I'm a 47 year old male who has been running for 25+ years. Now, if I'm sitting at my desk and my heel aches, I go and stretch and the ache goes away. So it seems like I know what to do that will work for me, I just need to keep on doing it!

Re: exercise, during the time that I couldn't run (mid-Jan until a couple of weeks ago) I was able to continue exercising at a local fitness center, using deep water running with a floatation belt, stationary biking, rowing machine (minimal, because sometimes it made my achilles a little sore), and most recently as I got better, an elliptical machine (non-weight bearing; great workout, but not all fitness centers have them). I did enough exercise that when I began running again I found that I was in better shape than when I stopped running, although the muscles were slightly different (but the endurance was definitely still there!).

At this point, I am well enough that I have gone running on a track 5 times (with 2-3 days in between to give my heel a rest). The podiatrist recommended using a track or treadmill at first because it's not as hard as asphalt, but I know some of you have had trouble rurnning on treadmills. It remains to be seen if I will be able to gear my mileage back up to where it was before I was diagnosed with the problem (I ran the Boston Marathon in 1992 and 1993, and hope to do it again) but I'm hoping that with the proper stretching and continuing to use the orthotics this will happen.

A few caveats:
1. I recognize that just because I'm o.k. now doesn't mean that it won't come back, and I'm prepared (mentally) for this.
2. After reading this site since Jan., I understand that the problem and its solutions (or lack thereof) are extremely individualized and know that this hasn't worked for many of you.
3. My case of p.f. was much less severe than many of you and I started treating quite soon (within a month) of when I first noticed it. I could walk but wanted to be able to use running as exercise again.
4. I know that I'm lucky that I was able to sleep with the night splints and that I could wear the hard orthotics (although they still aren't that comfortable, he just adjusted them by shaving a little off the bottom).
5. I expect that I will continue to have to work with my podiatrist for some time to come, especially in adjusting the orthotics.

But, for now, these things seemed to have helped and I'm happy to be running again. Good luck to all of you!!

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