Tuesday, June 2, 2009

3 Things I Learned About Heel Pain

Foot illustration showing the achilles tendon and plantar fasciaMy Personal Hell Heel Experience

As some of you know, I've been experiencing intense heel pain for over a year. I injured my feet last spring, running high school bleachers with my kids, Rachael and Dylan. The following day I could barely walk - my heels were throbbing!

Before this injury, I had never experienced foot pain. So I thought my feet would eventually heal on their own. Even though the pain subsided from a '10' to about a '6', it was still enough pain to make me thoroughly miserable. My heel pain was most intense upon getting out of bed in the morning and again at the end of the day, but also flared up after walking around for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Nine Months Later

It was around Christmas time when I began to worry that my feet weren't getting any better and I wondered whether I would have heel pain for the rest of my life. I was fearful of going to the podiatrist because I thought he might recommend surgery. Crazy, huh? Anyway, I stewed on it for another month and finally made an appointment.

I remembered at our family Christmas party, my brother, Jeff, showed me some exercises I could do to help my feet but I couldn't remember the exercises he showed me. So I decided to google "heel pain" to see if I could find some illustrations of the exercises Jeff showed me and perhaps find some other exercises for heel pain.

Heal My Heels!

I stumbled upon a website by orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. James Amis (who advocates a natural solution to treat heel pain). Since Dr. Amis has been in practice for over 20 years and the video cost only $17.99 to download (and had a money-back guarantee), I decided it was definitely worth the investment. So after downloading the video, I decided to cancel my doctor appointment. I figured if Dr. Amis' treatment didn't work, I could always make another appointment.

What I learned in the video made a lot of sense to me, so I started the treatment right away. I continued the program for 4 months and was amazed and thrilled to discover that I no longer had heel pain in my right foot! However, there was no change whatsoever in my left foot. This caused me to worry that I had done something irreversible to my left foot that Dr. Amis' treatment couldn't fix.

Wilkinson's MallSo I reluctantly made an appointment with a podiatrist. I went to see Dr. McClendon a couple of weeks ago. After the $115 doctor visit, he told me I had plantar fasciitis and all I needed to do was trot down to Wilkinson's and buy 'total support' sole inserts. It's times like this when I feel like a complete idiot.

I did learn something while at the doctor's office. Dr. McClendon told me that if I wear Birkenstocks, I don't have to wear sole inserts, because Birkenstocks already have excellent arch support. So I plan on buying a pair soon for me to wear to work.

The doctor told me that although my plantar fascia was torn, he said by wearing the arch supports, my feet would eventually heal (though it may take up to 6 months). Dr. McClendon said he wanted me to wear the arch supports at all times (except for sleeping and showering) until my feet are healed. I was bummed about this because I normally 'live' in my Crocs flip flops but couldn't wear them because the inserts fall out!

Dr. McClendon said he didn't expect to see me again but if I failed to see a noticeable improvement after wearing the sole inserts for awhile, to come back and he would fit me with custom-made arch supports. After leaving the doctor's office, I went to Wilkinson's and bought the $30 sole inserts the doctor recommended. I noticed some relief to my heel pain right away but after wearing them for several days, I felt like I needed more arch support.

WOW... No More Heel Pain!

Last week, I happened to catch an 'Ideal Feet' commercial which showed many happy customers testifying how their 'Ideal Feet' arch supports had completely healed their feet. Then while leaving Wild River Country Saturday evening, a lady overheard me complaining of my foot pain. She said that she had terrible foot pain (due to a car accident) but that she went to the Ideal Feet store and that the arch supports completely changed her life and how she never wanted to be without them. She was so thrilled with the results that she offered to do a radio commercial for them for free to testify about how pleased she was with the results. Well, listening to her testimony did it for me. I decided to go to the Ideal Feet store in Little Rock yesterday to buy the arch supports. I'm amazed already at how great my feet feel! I have no heel pain when I wear the sole inserts.

I bought the whole package which consists of the trainer sole inserts (these have much more arch support) and maintenance sole inserts (these inserts have great arch support - plus - you can wear them in flip flops, sandals, high heels etc. Total cost? $400.00! Thankfully, I had the money in my HSA so I just paid for the inserts out of that account. I figured having pain-free feet was definitely worth it. It would have cost me half that if I'd only bought the maintenance inserts but I decided to get the trainer inserts as well to make sure my feet heal completely. He said it should take me about 2 weeks for my feet to be healed and back to normal. 2 weeks! Can you believe it? And here I've been suffering with foot pain for over a year!

He said once my feet get used to the trainer inserts (I only wore them for an hour yesterday, 2 hours today etc.), I will wear them all day. After my feet are healed (2 weeks!), I will wear the trainer inserts as a preventive measure. I wear the maintenance inserts around the house since I'm always in flip flops at home. I can't believe how good my feet already feel wearing them! It's a wonderful thing to not have foot pain.

What Did I Learn From This Experience?

Doing Dr. Amis' heel pain treatment three times daily can heal plantar fasciitis. And doing the treatment twice daily can prevent plantar fasciitis, thus keeping you from ever experiencing heel pain. I also learned having proper arch support makes all the difference in the world!

Thanks for reading!


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Jan from BetterSpines said...

It's totally amazing that you wrote this now. We've got a series ready to post all about orthotics, including plantar fasciitis. Stay tuned, it's scheduled from June 7.

jh said...

Great post. So many of us suffer from some kind of foot pain or another. We just don't take it seriously until it is too late, take advantage of our feet. I remember a talk given by a naturopath and she said, "want to know how well a person loves herself? Look at her feet". Thanks!

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Jim B. said...

Just an interesting aside. I have suffered from significant plantar fasciitis and was told by my podiatrist to STOP wearing my birkenstocks. They were all I wore before and now if I wear them for more than about an hour I am in sheer agony. I have had to switch to something with more of a heel.

airfare-now.com said...

I just showed your post to my mother because she has suffered from heel pain for years. Mom found out last month that she had broken a small bone in her heel and the bone had jaggedly fused itself and was causing irritation. She has undergone surgery and is now using magnets to relieve her lingering pain.

Laura said...

Jan @ BetterSpines - I'll be sure and tune in!

JH - Thanks! You're right. So many times we take care of everything and everyone else and put ourselves at the end of the line. It is so important to take care of our health (body, mind, and soul).

Jim B. - I'm glad you left a comment because now I'm not so sure I should buy Birkenstocks.

Airfare-now.com - Wow! Magnets, huh? That sounds like a very interesting treatment! I sure hope she gets relief. Foot pain is something I wouldn't wish upon anyone.

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