"My left foot is killing me! -- Can you diagnose me? Can you cure me? Can you heal my aching heel?"
I have tried acupuncture, over the counter orthotics to support my arch, and heel wedges from CVS to create lift in my sneaker. I have tried to increase blood flow to my heel to ease the constant ache -- massaging my foot shamelessly on airplanes and in restaurants. I carry a golf ball in my purse which I place under my foot under the dinner table and at the movies. I roll the ball under the arch and press onto the heel just like I was told to do by every single friend who has suffered from this relentless foot pain. I even sleep in special knee socks with velcro straps that look medieval. Nothing is working. I have been told to be patient -- I'm trying.
At the end of March (almost eight weeks ago) I even stopped my ritualistic running. I'd been running 25-30 miles per week for years -- not any more. Pounding down the West Side Highway back in March on cold concrete finished off my foot and as I crossed the finish line at the NY Half Marathon I knew something had to change. So, I rested my foot--but, come on -- it's... been... eight... weeks--ENUF!
Turns out I have the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis and I'm not alone. Turns out the numbers who suffer from this misery are not insignificant:
2,000,000 Americans are affected by plantar fasciitis each year.
85% of the cases of plantar fasciitis cases have unknown causes.
40-60 year olds are most affected.
If you can relate to the following scenario and no longer suffer from the pain -- I want to know how you fixed your problem. Here's my daily drill: I start my morning wincing and muttering, "OUCH." As I drop my feet to the floor and start to stand, it feels like my heel is crushing shards of glass. The arch of my foot tightens and I limp to the bathroom praying the pain will subside. It does. The pain lessens as I start to walk around a bit. Within 30 minutes or so after taking my first step of the day -- my pain eases but is by no means gone.
It's become virtually impossible to ignore the screaming that is going on in my left foot. It's Groundhog Day every morning as my heel fires when it hits the floor and the "shards of glass" underfoot make me buckle and fall back to the bed.
I finally gave in to trying to fix this problem on my own and went to a Podiatrist. I know, I know -- don't lecture me -- but at least I went. He fixed me up with a temporary orthotic and told me that nothing would improve until I stopped walking on it. Really? He urged me to do my best. This seemed impossible. What was not impossible was his suggestion to wear heels. Wow, now this sounded like fun! At almost 5 foot 8, I rarely wear heels. Shoe shopping was to be my prescription drug. I was down with that. I am now embracing my 5 fo0t 10.
Just the other day, I was walking in my neighborhood in my orthotic supported running shoes (a short dog walk with friends) and I ran into another "PF" sufferer. She told me I would never get better unless I bought 5-fingered Vibram shoes -- totally flat with no arch support. She suffered for over a year and had only cured herself when she went the "unsupported" route.
I want to believe that science has come far enough to have a remedy for my pain -- but alas -- it's trial and error. And as I seek out the best therapy for my foot -- I'm sticking with the golf balls, heels and modified walks... and even my kinky knee socks at night -- unless you've got a better idea. If so, please post your winning therapy and remedy below -- there are about two million of us who could use a communal cure.