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hearkat's avatar

If you've had Plantar Fasciitis and/or heel spurs, would you kindly share your experience and advice with me?

Asked by hearkat (22395 points ) June 7th, 2012

My heel pain has been getting progressively worse over the past several months. It fits the classic symptoms of plantar fasciitis, so I have self-diagnosed. In my case, it is not an athletic injury. It is a result of being overweight and having a hard heel strike in my walking stride.

I have used kinesiology tape, foot rollers and stretches, and the Strasbourg socks. Admittedly, I am inconsistent in their use – especially since they haven’t made a whole lot of difference when I have used them. And I hate socks, especially when I’m sleeping.

Of course weight loss is important to helping my feet hurt less; but since using my feet hurts, it isn’t easy to increase my physical activity. I do not do well with bicycle riding, becaus that makes my rear-end hurt too much. I do like swimming, and have pre-joined a gym that is being built a couple miles from my home, but that isn’t set to open until November.

I plan on seeing my primary physician next week, because I am unsure which specialist to see. I know than that Podiatrists treat heel pain, but I view Podiatry much like Chiropractic… it is a viable medical field, and there are some quality practitioners out there—but there are also a large number of people who go into those fields as an easier way to get the “Doctor” title and earn a nice salary. I worry that an Orthopedist might be inclined to suggest tests and surgeries as a routine. Physiatrists – well, I’m honestly not entirely sure what they do. I am also considering a rheumatologist, because the tightness and pain isn’t only in my heel, but through my feet, ankles, and calves, but I have some similar tightening in my hands, wrists, and forearms – and I think 46 is a bit young for that, no?

So if you or someone you know well has dealt with plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, or similar, what experience did you have and what suggestions might you have for me? Thanks!

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14 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I use, and have used for years, inexpensive plastic heel cups (originally recommended by my PCP). I have a dozen pairs and wear them in every shoe except sandals. I buy cushioned sandals from Clark, Ecco and Naot.

When I was recently at the Orthopedic supply shop for a back brace, I noticed that they were selling them, $4;00 a pair. You must have places that sell orthotics, walkers, wheel chairs, etc. Ask them.

Here Number three.

And here for example.

As for the general aches and pains, I saw a PT for a while and got tailor-made stretching and strengthening exercise, some stuff w. 5 lb. dumbbells and the exhortation to walk, swim or use the treadmill.

I finally chose the latter, because the weather doesn’t influence me, I don’t have to swim in chlorine and I can watch “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!”.

hearkat's avatar

@gailcalled: I was already wearing comfortable shoes – Clark’s, Dansko, Keen – before theis started, and have bout several pairs of new shoes since it started (the only silver lining, thus far). I have tried several different heel pads and insoles, as well. I couldn’t function without them. I haven’t tried the cups, but they do not seem to offer cushioning – so how do they help?

gailcalled's avatar

It is truly mysterious but they work for me and the burning I used to feel on the bottoms of my feet. I was officially diagnosed with p/f also.

For a couple of dollars, it’s an easy experiment. I too wear comfortable and well-cushioned shoes; if I had to guess, I would say that the cups distribute the weight just a bit.

elbanditoroso's avatar

The big plastic prescription boot was not helpful at all. Don’t spend your money.

Heel cups were ok, moderately helpful, but they tended to slip in my shoes.

Best thing for me was the leg stretching exercises, using those big rubber bands (not sure what they are really called) that you put around your sole and then stretch your leg to the limit of the rubber band.

Aster's avatar

My husband diagnosed himself with PF, after walking a mile in walking shoes. He got a heel cup from Amazon.com and the pain gradually vanished. The one with a lot of ****** stars for a rating. He had been limping then just stopped.

Kayak8's avatar

I had plantar fasciitis and it has all but resolved. Tried shots (didn’t help) and a number of other things, but the trick for me was having a PT show me how THEY tape feet for PF. I taped pretty religiously and it went away within a month.

A friend had the same thing and I taught her how to tape and she had the same result I did. This shows the basic principle of the type of taping that I did, but it really helps if someone shows you HOW to do it properly. This is a video of how I taped my feet. (It may not be clear from the video, but after the first two pieces are in place, the other pieces are only ½ width—she says ½ but doesn’t say width).

I use kinesiology tape for other purposes, but the old fashioned athletic tape was the trick for my PF.

Bellatrix's avatar

I have a discrepancy in my leg length which caused Plantar Fasciitis. My podiatrist taped my foot as @Kayak8 has illustrated here and the pain did go away. Now my podiatrist uses foam tape to pad my shoes to even me up (the discrepancy isn’t great). If I do that to my shoes, no pain. If I buy new shoes and don’t do it, the pain returns. It adds about $35 to the cost of my shoes but I consider it money well spent because I have no pain.

bewailknot's avatar

I developed it after standing in one place for 2 hours in dressy shoes, and it just wouldn’t go away. The doctor referred me for custom orthotics – it felt like I had ½ a baseball in my shoes. I discovered something – it was the stretching that happened when I stood up that hurt so bad. If I kept my foot at a right angle to my leg then it didn’t hurt to stand up.

So, I made it a habit to keep my foot at a right angle when I was sitting. Then my problem was getting up in the morning was so painful. I didn’t have a footboard on my bed so I started sleeping scrunched down with my feet to the wall. It took a little more than 2 months but that was 20 years ago and any flareups have only lasted a couple of days.

creative1's avatar

I’ve had mine since march when I didn’t see a crack in the parking lot and as I stepped on the crack I felt a tear in the bottom of my foot and omg what pain I had at that moment. I could bearly walk, but once the swelling came down it was a little better but now I am faced with doing stretches every morning and evening, not walking or standing bear foot and taking an anti-inflamatory to make it feel better. There are times that when I walk or stand for extended periods of time that it hurts until the swelling comes down again. I am hoping soon I will find relief, but if not I am thinking my next step will be trying the cortisone shot, it worked when I had tennis elbow a few years back so hopefully if all the other stuff don’t work then that will.

woodcutter's avatar

Has your shoe size changed for the bigger lately? That is a sign your arches are dropping. If thats whats going on then the horse is already out of the gate. No arch support is going to un-stretch that tendon. It is going to pull on that heel and the contact point is going to try to keep up with that and will cause a spur to develop on the heel.
What a podiatrist might do is a plantar faciotomy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plantar_fasciitis They make a partial cut through to relieve some tension and the pain as well. Sort of like stretching a fat rubber band and using an xacto knife to nick the edge causing it to elongate some. Takes only a few minutes. Eventually the plantar fascia will heal a little bit longer and with time and proper orthotics should resolve itself.

Worked for me.

hearkat's avatar

@Kayak8: That’s a lot of tape! Did you have to reapply every day, and we’re you able to apply it properly on yourself? What caused your PF?

@woodcutter: What causes falling arches besides lack of arch support? My feet are in-between sizes, I often feel like the arch in a 7.5 fits my sole better, but then the shoe is too short The size 8 footbed doesn’t slope as nicely with my arch. It has been a frustration.

Kayak8's avatar

@hearkat Yes, I did apply it to my own foot. It is a lot of tape, but it is good for a couple days (I was always taking it off because I felt like the temperature of the bottoms of my feet were going up rather than due to the tape coming off). Also, even though feet skin is pretty tough, I would give my feet breaks in between taping (like on for 2 off for 1 kind of thing). I am not entirely sure what caused my PF, but it occurred in conjunction with bilateral posterior tib tendonitis and bilateral achilles tendonitis, so who the heck knows . . .

woodcutter's avatar

@hearkat I don’t know what causes arches to drop. I was probably given some ideas but I forgot. It was about 15 years ago. I wasn’t heavy so that wasn’t a factor for me so weight isn’t necessarily the problem although it probably doesn’t help in that respect. Before my proceedure the doc shot my foot with cortisone and that hurt like a mother, and made it feel like there was a golf ball in my shoe until it settled in. If a person has foot problem it is going to raise hell in other areas until it is resolved. It is a good idea to stay away from cheap shoes as they hardly have any arch support. After you spend money on decent arch support insoles to put them in cheap shoes you could have just gone ahead and got decent shoes that were made well and been done with it. Good shoes aren’t cheap.

Kayak8's avatar

I was born with flat feet, so there was no “falling” for my arches to do (I leave duck prints on the concrete when I get out of the swimming pool). While the architecture of the foot can certainly contribute to foot pain (and there are two arches in each foot, by the way), the condition of one’s arches may not be the cause of PF.

Orthotics (well made by casting, not by stepping into a box of foam) can make all the difference to how your foot is treated by any pair of shoes.

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