Are you loving your heel spur yet?
Young people, before you check the latest fashion forecast on shoes or the accessories for fall fashion, let me explain what heel spur is:
Heel spur is the more common name for a condition that is medically referred to as plantar fasciitis or heel spur syndrome. Plantar fasciitis is a location-oriented term that refers to the bottom of the foot(i.e. plantar warts). Fascia is a tough, inelastic band. 'itis' is a term used to describe something that is inflamed (i.e. tendonitis, bursitis).
Fascia tissue is located throughout the body, usually providing support to the musculoskeletal system, providing rigidity, much like guide wires support a cell phone tower. Together with ligaments and tendons, fascia allows our body system that allows us to be mobile. Plantar fascia (foot fascia) originates on the base of the heel and runs across the arch of the toes. The primary function of the plantar fascia is to support the arch of the foot.
This cute spur was detected on my left foot a year ago. Before I knew what it was, I could not explain why my heel hurts. My husband and I are hikers, being a member of HHH.
I was embarrassed telling my husband how my feet hurts, him being 66 years old and I, 53 years old and my feet hurts unbearably! I limped and sometimes I was close to tears. My thoughtful husband, bless him, insisted that I consult my orthopedic doctor. I have a regular orthopedic doctor who loves my tendinitis (that’s another blog subject later) so I consulted him about my painful foot. Not many people know what heel spur is. In fact when he sent me to an x-ray technician the technician took my x-ray but he himself has not heard of a heel spur. Nevertheless he took an x-ray and later my orthopedic doctor told me how my foot would have been better positioned for x-ray.
My doctor gave me a cortisone shot. So considerate of him, I had to buy the f******g injection myself from the drug store, about 400 meters away, went back to him, then he injected the area near my heel. I felt the painful injection but it did not do any good for my painful heel. Okay, the pain that I regularly felt on my right arthritic arm went away, my trigger finger (tendinitis) pains was lessened, but it did not do squat to my heel. I tried heel pads, in fact I have different kinds, different brands of them, I even had one custom made! It lessened the pain for every step I take but it did not help in taking out the pain.
I went back to my orthopedic doctor, and he referred us to a doctor, a physiotherapist, whose treatment we’ve used earlier for my tendonitis. His treatment was his useless ultrasound machine and oil, etc. I stopped going to his clinic after the second session as I felt\t no improvment for my tendonitis.
We went to another physiotherapist that was again recommended by my orthopedic doctor. You see how loyal we are to our orthopedic doctor :) My husband had gone to this physiotherapist before for his back pains. We were turned off by the doctor’s sweeping statement, “as you grow old there will be more pains” . . . . . He said that smilingly and victoriously, as if he was saying to us, . . . "welcome to the club. . . of old people who moan and groan everyday of pains". I don’t like that kind of doctor either. I researched on the internet and found exercises for the heel spur. The exercises are mostly for stretching and contracting the legs and feet.
Here are the exercises I found in internet:
This is a great stretch to do. Begin by finding a step, curb and something you can hold onto to maintain your balance. Remember to slowly ease into the stretch. Bouncing may cause further trauma to the area.
• Balance yourself on the balls of your feet. While doing this you may listen to Michael Buble on your iPod.
• Slowly allow your body weight to gently stretch the calf muscles until you feel tension.
• Hold this position for 30 seconds
While wearing shoes, locate a doorway.
1. Reach through the door way so that you can balance yourself.
2. Position one of your feet so that:
1. The ball of the foot is firmly against the wall.
2. The heel of the foot is firmly pressed into the ground.
3. Begin to slowly apply pressure by pulling your body towards the wall, making your lower leg more perpendicular to the floor.
4. Repeat with the other foot.
I added more – my warm up Tae Kwon Do exercises that I used to do when I was in my 20s. This exercise I do while listening to Santana's Samba Pa Ti :) It’s just that when I am not able to do these exercises and I had to keep walking or hiking everyday just like what happened when we went for a vacation in Las Vegas and New Orleans, that we had to hike/walk everyday to see interesting places. My heel spur killed me each night, and more so each time I woke up in the morning. Then I went around limping like and old woman that I am.
Recently I found a miracle cure: Your head will spin by the simplicity of the cure: ice pack!
The importance of Ice
Icing your foot is recommended as long as the inflammation is present. The cold temperatures help to slow down local metabolism in the foot. Depending on the type of injury, you may want to continue icing the area for as long as inflammation is present, even after the pain has subsided. This may mean icing the area during the entire rehabilitation process. It may be particularly beneficial to ice the area as you return to more strenuous activity.
There are many ways that you can ice your elbow. There seems to be 2 distinct methods:
• ice the area with a cold pack
• ice massage
The most common way is to simply put and ice pack directly on the foot. You can fill a ziploc bag with ice and just put that on the area. It may be a good idea to wrap the ice pack in a light cloth so you don't freeze your skin. It can happen, so you have been warned.
Since then, the pain from center of my foot to the heel vanished and the heel spur felt like the small wart that it actually is. It only hurts in the little area on my heel each time I walk. The ice pack vanished the inflammation and so I walk like normal human being again! F*****g shit! What a simple solution. I so believe in the usefulness of the internet. My husband always advised me from believing what’s on the internet, but on this issue, he grudgingly acknowledged that if its good for my beloved heel spur, go for it. But he tells me, we don’’t stop looking for a doctor who could rid of the heel spur, and so he calls every week a different doctor, asking how he’d treat a heel spur. Those who advises on cortisone injection or ultrasound, etc, they were counted out.
We are looking for a doctor who would mention surgery.
We would even listen to a doctor who will mention Extracorporeal Shock Wave therapy( ESW), although I could not imagine that my heel spur “listening” to acoustic will make it run away for good. I am so ignorant of these process, it does not sound good to me.
What does internet say about it? “…Shockwave therapy, Extracorporeal Shock Wave therapy uses a acoustic energy wave that is focused at the area of pain. It is believed that the shock wave causes micro-trauma to the area. This micro-trauma stimulates an intense focused inflammatory response that promotes healing at the insertion point of the plantar fascia.”
This is a technique that has recently been developed to break the cycle of re-injury associated with plantar fasciitis. Shockwave therapy was originally developed to treat kidney stones non-invasively. Shockwave therapy revolutionized the Urology ( urinary system surgeons ) by giving surgeon the options of treating the kidney stones without:
• Invasive surgery No cutting
• Overnight hospital stays, before stone removal surgery require multiple days in the hospital
• Less damage to the kidney area
But we have not found any doctor who does that here. My dear husband would like a doctor who will tell us, "okay, I could take the heel spur out through laser technology, I will pulverize the heel spur and send it to another planet, never to come back and bother your wife again".
And they say that surgery is the last resort:
..."Surgical options should be the last resort as they have the greatest risk of complications. Plantar fasciitis surgery has come a long way in recent years, even though the basic technique remains the same. The basic idea of surgery is to manually release the fascia of the foot with the hope that the pain will be eliminated, medically termed plantar fasciotomies. Older techniques involved a large incision made in the foot and then removal of the calcium deposit ( bone spur ) or a removal of part of the heel. The technique has evolved to release the fascia because the bony heel spur does not seem to be the source of the pain but rather a side effect of the inflammation of the area".
Surgery has the risk of further complications dues to changes of the structural support of the foot. Possible complications include:
• Fallen arches
• Lateral Column Syndrome
• Nerve damage
And here are some useful TIPS if your doctor had convinced you that your heel spur’s gone:
How can you prevent re-injuring the heel?
To avoid re-injuring the fascia and causing further pain, the here are some recommendations:
• Always consult a foot specialist before starting a new exercise program
• Allow your body to adapt to the exercise program by starting slowly. It takes time for the body to adapt to the additional stress.
• Purchase and maintain good shoes and replace them regularly. Investing a little more money in good shoes will pay dividends in pain-free living.
• Remember to stretch your feet and Achilles tendon before and after exercise.
• Always try to exercise on an even surface. Uneven surfaces can but strange stressed on the foot and can result in pain.
• Avoid walking barefoot on hard surfaces. Without your shoes, you fascia has to support your entire body weight.
• If it hurts, STOP. Don't try to bear through the pain.
But for me, it's ice pack two or three times a day for now. We are still looking for a competent doctor. How’s your heel spur treating you lately?
Need more information about Plantar Fasciitis. This may help you:
"I am an avid runner and have suffered through plantar fasciitis twice and lasted for months. I got a copy of Injury afoot and followed the recommendations. I am happy to say I no longer have plantar fasciitis and follow the suggestions in the book to keep it from coming back. Excellent book and easy to read and understand."
Review by Just a Hobby