I think your caution is wise. For starters I had 13 years of damage repaired, so hopefully I represent somewhat of a worst case scenario. I would also tell you that I consider my surgery to have been an overwhelming success. As for calling it a cure, I would stop short of that. The world is full of people that do the sort of things I used to do, run, play sports etc.. For some reason, I was vulnerable to this lousy condition. Why would I think surgery would do any better than provide a fresh start at an active life, yet with the same vulerability? In other words, good as new for me wasn't a cure, and I'm not exactly good as new either. As for the self imposed rules:
1) Don't go barefoot. I do think if it wasn't for the non-corrected foot that I could handle moderate barefoot time. I generally take baths rather than showers, but at least now I have the option. The hot water on the feet is also a good thing.
2) Don't wear hard shoes. I use Rockports for dress (with orthitics), and running shoes (with orthotics) for casual wear. I go the casual route as much as possible, often at the expense of social decorum.
3) Always use some form of aggressive arch support. By aggressive I mean either an orthotic or tape or both. I am of the opinion that arch support is the most important factor. I am of the opinion that when they take casts of our feet and fit us with orthotics they are not high enough. Regardless of where your arch normally is or was, if PF is related to some breakdown of that structure then providing support to the broken down level just doesn't make sense.
4) This is the big one for me, never run, trot, walk fast without taping up. One year after surgery I started running again, taped up and with arch supports wrapped in with ace bandages. I did so well I became overconfident. When I coached baseball in the spring I set myself back for about 6 months by only wearing runing shoes and orthotics, without taping. I didn't even run hard, it didn't take much. Last week I trotted in the rain through the church parking lot(in Rockports w/ orthotics) after dropping of the able bodied family, and sure enough I paid for it. Fortunately this wasn't a major setback but enough of a reminder that I just can't push it.
5) Avoid sprinting. This is a tough one for me. I like to finish my run by finding out what's left in the tank. If I'm having any sort of discomfort or pain I just can't let it all out. Fortunately I usually don't have enough left to violate the rule anyway. I also only run on the balls of my feet, no planting of the heels.
6) Strech and avoid over-streching. This should be more a more contraversial topic than it seems to be. I, as others on the board, have caused more harm than good by stretching at times. When times are good I strech, assumming that the doctors have must a point. When in an active stage of inflamation streching is about the worst thing I can do. Even now, in good times if I change a tire or do some similar activity, I can initiate inflamation. Shoveling snow for some reason is a tough one, or so I tell my wife!
I hope this helps. Please keep in mind that this condition progressed to a rather extreeme level in my case. My intent is to be encouraging , and not to scare the heck out of you or anyone else. Just because for me the lifestyle changes are permanent, it need not be so for others that get on the right path sooner than I did. Not to mention that I have it pretty darned good. These are small compromises to make to get back the an activity level I once thought was only a dream. Good luck and Merry Christmas!
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