THE PLANTAR FASCIITIS HOME PAGE
So in May I staked 142 claims in northeastern Washington for a Canadian mineral company, each claim being about a half-kilometer by 200 meters, the staker having to decorate each corner of the claim as well as placing a notice within the claim. Since the landscape was remote and extremely steep and deeply forested and thickly shrub-tangled, the long days of climbing and crawling and tripping and falling were kind of like an extended workout on a jungle gym.
At the end of the project I was pleasantly surprised, at the age of 67, not to have dropped dead. MORE surprising, however, was that I never had to give plantar fasciitis a thought. Of course, sure, it did take a couple of weeks for most of my muscle, bone and connective tissue to regain full and painless function, but the foot was fine.
What a change. Five years ago, in the gloom of hobbling plantar fasciial disability, it looked like the time had come to sprawl in a recliner chair aimed at the big-screen TV, pig out, bloat up and wait for the end.
FIVE YEARS AGO: That’s when I realized I had a problem, in a summer of working as a field technician for a [different] mineral exploration company in the remotest dang mountains in the great northwest, dawn-to-dusk bushwhacking up and over and down and up another mountain, on and on. Back then, though, I knew nothing about plantar fasciitis. As a result, there was a lot of limping, sitting in the rented house that served as a field camp in a small town watching TV and pushing my heel into a bag of frozen peas, rolling my heel on a frozen water bottle, taking ibuprofen around the clock like a drug addict. A podiatrist had told me I needed tighter shoes, so I tied the strings so tight that one of my toenails turned black, but I still came home unable even to walk very far in the shopping mall.
Over that winter, I researched the topic by interviewing countless medical experts for this Web site. I should mention here that, despite my colorful “retirement job,” my career was as a science writer with a good deal of medical science. I like finding world-class authorities and asking them what I want to know.
Applying their input about stretches and orthotics and other techniques, I was “back” by the following summer. In 2013, that is. I walked hard pavement through cities as a tourist; climbed the Brocken in the Harz Mountains, the highest point in northern Germany; and took modest hikes in the mountains of my Colorado home.
August 2014 – Along with my wife and three college girls, I did my first backpacking trip in years — since before plantar fasciitis came along — with 16 miles of hiking in Colorado’s Flattops Wilderness, up to 11,500 feet and around and down. I may have stopped for the occasional geezer wheeze while those college girls, all athletic and as tall as I am, sprung up the slopes like deer. But I hiked all those miles with a heavy pack, and there was no pain in my heel.
Now, that curative stage is over, and I’m in the maintenance phase. What’s important is never to think, “Okay, foot’s feeling pretty good, guess I can go back to wearing shoes the way I used to.” What’s important is to keep using the right shoes (firm fit and especially tight in the heel) and the right arch supports. Sometimes I even think I am cured in the strict sense — until I walk around in socks or bare feet and start to notice that old feeling of a sensitive lump inflaming and bulging under my heel from the abuse. Stay with the arch supports, and I’m good for walking all day.
My best every-day arch supports are from Good Feet, but they’re expensive. I’ve got two pairs of them, but between casual shoes and dress shoes and athletic shoes and hiking shoes, I could use a LOT more pairs; and good as the Good Feet inserts are, an ADDITIONAL 5-10 of them would be a financial blow to anyone who can’t get their home featured on the TV show “Cribs.”
But you gotta get more. Sure, you can sit down, every time you want to wear a different shoe, and pull your most valuable inserts out of one pair of shoes and push them into another, scrabbling with your fingers to replace the little velcro pads that hold the insert in. Sure you can — if you want to go mad with the petty frustration and time wastage. Big temptation to do the bad thing, and just wear some shoes some of the time with NO support.
Sorry, but I gotta digress just one sentence to illustrate why that’s important, why that’s a bad thing. It’s not just that you’ll set back your recovery. You can damage the foot to make recovery less accessible. : “People who … allow it to exacerbate develop more scar tissue,” says Dr. Jeffrey Ross, Associate Clinical Professor in the Baylor College of Medicine and a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. “The plantar fascia, normally about 2 millimeters (mm) in thickness, can thicken to as much as 10 mm, making it that much harder to treat.” (Quote from Plantar Fasciitis in Basketball)
So I have bought a bunch of cheaper inserts for those shoes that are secondary wear. There’s Archmolds, “Heat Moldable Custom Insoles”: $39.95. And the Blaue Fussbett arches, by Birkenstock, $50 a crack. I have several of each. They don’t help me as much as the Good Feets, but they’re good for moderate amounts of wear. If you’ve found other brands and types of orthotics that work for you, good. More on this topic in the orthotics page.
On my section in this Web site on “Can Plantar Fasciitis Really be Cured? I pronounced last fall that I was. A reader asked recently, “Are you still cured?” Now, in August 2014, I can say yup, I’m still cured.
So why am I doing this Web site? Because several years ago, with plantar fasciitis crippling my right foot, I discovered that dealing with it, let alone getting it cured, is complicated. So I set out to talk with the experts and get the answers I needed. I started this Web site to share what I’ve learned.
lt’s helped me, that’s for sure. You can check out My Plantar Fasciitis Story for more whiny detail, but the upshot is that in Fall 2012 I was limping through life and avoiding all those things I used to do and was now unable to do, I thought it was the beginning of the end, the onset of a forced sedentary life with the inability to exercise and go places and do things. Chronologically, I’m a geezer of 65, but I’ve always seen myself as youthfully active. So it was gloomy in 2012 to see myself as starting a downward spiral into a disabled and premature old age.
This home page is an intro to what’s contained in the other pages of this site, with a primary focus on “self-cure” and a secondary focus on Aggressive Treatments: medical interventions for those who can’t self-cure. But if you have plantar fasciitis, you’re probably among the 90 % of us who, the docs say, can cure themselves. Like I did. But what does it mean, “cured”?
We worry about the knees going bad, but who would ever think that solid, solid piece of the body, the heel, would fail? Boy does it ever, when you develop plantar fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis Solutions is dedicated to exploring this complex topic and navigating the maze of technologies, therapies, products, and advice that presume to offer us a cure. Coverage spans both the practical cost-effective solutions and the state of the art, news and developments, opinions and personal stories from readers, blah blah — okay, enough, just check out the drop-down contents listing at the top of this page, and every page.
So now you have heel pain, even crippling heel pain that makes you wonder if your walking days are over and this is the beginning of the end.You may know for a fact that you have plantar fasciitis. Or you may suspect that you have plantar fasciitis, either by way of the Web or the opinions of other people. I have it; that’s what got me started on this mission of discovery. I scatter my opinions or experience through these plantar fasciitis pages, but sparingly. Because the best advice is to at least start with the opinions of experts, and those can include options from an MD to podiatrist to a physical therapist.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common of all foot afflictions, affecting some “2 million Americans per year and 10 % of the population over their lifetimes” according to the American Physical Therapy Association. Worldwide, that extrapolates to 45 million worldwide per year and 700 million during their lifetimes. And 90% of those who have it can cure it on their own. It’s not a quick self-cure. It takes patience and perseverance. But why get injections and surgery if you can do it yourself?
Yes, getting over plantar fasciitis takes patience and perseverance. AND and it has to be done right if it’s going to work.
Doing it right can be a tricky proposition without expert guidance, and that’s what Plantar Fasciitis Solutions is all about. I talk to the experts. When I use “the editorial we” in dispensing observations or advice, that means the expert guidance is coming not from me but from the people who really know what they are talking about.
As a health/medical science writer of more than two decades experience (Google my name, Robert Ebisch, and smatterings of work both health/medical/science and general-interest will pop up), I specialize in finding and working with national and world-class authorities – in this case, authorities on plantar fasciitis – to find, summarize and detail their guidance.
Otherwise, the search for information and guidance can result in a crazy hodgepodge of often conflicting and dubious input from friends and family and the Internet, and even sometimes from medical practitioners. Some advice is out of date and superseded by knowledge gained from new studies. Some is unclear or incomplete about what to do and how to do it. Some is just plain sham. And if that’s not enough, the sheer mass of products being peddled on the Web is confusing enough to send even the most thoughtful person on a spree of spending in directions that may be useless, or reachable in other ways at much lower prices.
I invite readers to share their experiences and opinions. I also invite you to ask questions and suggest new sub-topics of this issue that afflicts so many, and I will do the necessary research and provide new answers.