Plantar Fasciitis: Living with a Painful Foot Condition

In September 2007, I committed myself to the goal of losing 100 pounds and began walking the mile to my full-time job every day. I would slip on my Nike sneakers, just over a year old, and head out on uneven concrete slab sidewalks to my place of employment, all the while carrying my bag and my 100 pounds of extra weight. All of these factors helped contribute to an uncomfortable medical condition called Plantar Fasciitis.

No doctor can guarantee that any or all of these factors cause Plantar Fasciitis, a condition that Mayoclinic. com defines as an “inflammation of the plantar fascia – the tissue along the bottom of your foot that connects your heel bone to your toes” ( Carrying extra weight, wearing worn shoes or even walking upon an uneven surface can cause stress on your feet that can lead to the onset of Plantar Fasciitis, or PF.

For those of us suffering with this painful, almost debilitating condition, there are few treatments. I began searching online for what was causing my pain about a month after I started experiencing a sharp, tingly, painful sensation along the inner part of my heels. I learned I possibly had PF, and after a month of constant pain, I sought out the help of my family doctor.

I told her that I suspected I had PF, and she agreed. She told me to take 1 naproxen sodium tablet every morning, and to start stretching my calf muscles by doing stretches against a wall. After 6 months of taking these steps, along with icing my feet and applying a menthol topical ointment to my heels every night, I still had pain, and it was worse than ever.

I searched around for a good podiatry doctor, and, after a failed first consultation, I met with a great doctor that my sister had recommended. By this point, I had done plenty of home research and knew that my treatment options were slim. We also discussed what was the possible onslaught of PF in my case. He agreed that all the factors that were fore mentioned had probably contributed to PF, but that there was no way to blame one condition as the significant contributor. From reports I had read that overweight people brought this on themselves, it was encouraging to hear from a renowned podiatrist that this was not necessarily the case.

For my treatment, I did not want to go the route of cortisone shots. However, after sitting down with my podiatrist and weighing all the options of surgery, heel splints, icing, and some experimental (and expensive) treatments, we both agreed that cortisone would be the best option.

Cortisone shots are very painful. Having them stuck into an already inflamed and irritated area is excruciating. I learned that I would be walking minimally after having these injections. My doctor inserted one shot into each of my heels, and sent me on my way. After almost 6 months of home treatments, I was skeptical that these shots would help, let alone take the pain away.

3-4 days following the shots, I noticed the pain was diminished: almost completely absent. It felt like I had a miracle performed on my feet. I had a scheduled follow-up appointment 2 weeks following, and when I went to this appointment, I only needed one additional shot in my right heel. My feet felt great, and I could finally begin the intense workout I had been wanting to achieve.

Two months after my round of initial cortisone shots, my PF had returned. Thankfully, it was not at the full scale pain it was at the beginning, but it was frustrating, and hindering my ability to continue my daily activities. After denying that PF had returned, I finally called my podiatrist to schedule another round of cortisone shots.

As many PF sufferers realize, PF is a condition that can affect you for months, and also for years: some a lifetime. Subtle things such as an ankle twist, or stepping on a sharp object can trigger the PF pain and return the injury. It is a frustrating process that I, and other PF patients, may deal with the rest of our lives.

As a PF patient, it is important to always wear some type of shoe, even while lounging around the house. Having no arch support greatly hinders PF recovery and can make the condition worsen. It is also important to give up the “cute shoe” and choose a more comfortable, flat, arch supportive shoe. For PF patients there is no guarantee that one shoe will work better than the other. It is a matter of comfort and awareness and is different to each patient.  I found Superfeet insoles to be very helpful, once I put them in every pair of shoes I wore.

The process of dealing with PF is frustrating, agonizing, painful and very mis-understood. Many non-PF sufferers believe that weight is the sole contributor to the onset of PF. Others also believe that PF is preventable by wearing a certain type of shoe. Both of these beliefs are false, as there is no evidence to prove that one factor is a greater contributer to the occurrence of PF.

PF is a very painful and debilitating injury that affects more people than we realize. It is important to be sympathetic to a PF sufferer’s symptoms and to encourage them to seek treatment from a specialized podiatrist. Home remedies can alleviate the pain, but most home remedies provide minimal relief compared to the options a podiatrist can provide.

If you are experience symptoms of irritation, inflammation, pain, or swelling of the heel area, seek the attention of a physician immediately. The sooner you can combat the affects of Plantar Fasciitis, the greater your chances are of a quick and long term recovery.

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