Monday, October 17, 2016

Not Ready For My Cane Just Yet

While I may be an unwilling member of the degeneration generation, that doesn't mean I have to just lie down and accept it.  Yes, parts of my body hurt.  Yes, I overdid it with walking when I was in California.  WALKING, people.  How can a runner hurt herself while walking?  I'd say it's not easy, but when your body has issues, anything can happen.

The backstory is that I'd already made an appointment with my orthopedist for a "state of the union" checkup before I really got into running longer distances in preparation for the Houston half marathon in January.  My right ankle went through about a month over the summer where it was hurting, and my left foot was always sore thanks to plantar fasciitis, plus I was a little worried that I might be dealing with some Achilles issues, so I made the appointment.

And then I went to California, where the weather is beautiful and the scenery is gorgeous and going for an evening walk was wonderful.  Well, after several days in a row of a lot of walking (the evening walks alone were over four miles each time), the top of my left foot started hurting so bad that I couldn't bear to even think about lacing up my running shoes, much less going for a walk.  The pain was radiating over the bony top of my foot down to my toes - I was taking Motrin and Tylenol like crazy, because we had things to do and I didn't want my foot pain to stop me!  Luckily, my ortho appointment was just a few days after I arrived back home, so I figured I'd get some relief soon.

I really like my orthopedist - it's the same doctor who finally got my right ankle fixed up after I injured it in 2011.  He's a former runner, so he understands our mentality.  Other doctors might advise their patients to quit running altogether, but my ortho knows that's not going to happen until something cracks and falls off (and even then, most of us will keep trying to run).

Anyway, X-rays were taken and the good news was that nothing bad has happened to my ankle.  He also said that my Achilles pain was really just pain connected to the plantar fasciitis, which was also good news - well, better that than to blow out your Achilles tendon.  Now, the PF?  That has gotten worse - I knew, based on X-rays taken in 2012 that I had a pretty good bone spur happening on the bottom of my left heel, but it's become even more pronounced and hook-like.  Lovely.  The top of my foot pain was caused by an arthritic bone spur, which, thanks to all the walking I did, irritated the nerve that runs across that area, and that's why it was hurting down to my toes.

My doctor suggested custom orthotic insoles.  Well, at first he asked how much longer I was going to keep running, but when I told him that this had become bad after a summer of short runs (almost none longer than three miles) plus a lot of walking while on vacation, he understood that I wasn't overdoing it - I really was just living a reasonably active lifestyle.  So his next thought was to try and support my arches, which are high, with the orthotics.  I was game - heck, when walking makes me hurt, it's time to try something new.  I was a little concerned about the cost, but as it turns out, they were quite reasonable - only $100.  The orthotics at the running store cost nearly half that, and they aren't custom, so I felt like I had to try them.  Side note - I'd come home from California intending to order a pair of Birkenstock sandals, which cost - you guessed it - $100, so I got the orthotics instead.

I wish I could have taken pictures of the fitting process for the orthotics, but it wasn't appropriate to whip out my phone and start clicking away at that appointment.  I went to a physical therapist who specializes in fitting patients for orthotics - he watched me walk back and forth a couple of times, then assessed my feet, and then brought out what looked like a  pizza box, but inside, instead of a delicious pizza, was foam.  He fitted each foot while I was sitting down, and then sent off the box to have the insoles made.  A couple of weeks later I went back to pick them up and have the physical therapist check the fit, and I brought home these:
I'm calling them invisible shoes, because they are taking the place of the shoes that I really wanted.
The arch.

I was advised to wear them for a couple of days, increasing the amount of time as I wore them, but if my feet felt good then I was fine to run in them.  So I did that, and I wore them for our 3.1 mile Panqueque race.  I felt great while running in them, but later on that day, my feet started to feel very tender, almost like they were bruised on the bottom.  It got fairly painful, and I didn't help matters when I dropped a jar of pickles on my bare foot that afternoon.  But even with that mess, the bottoms of my feet just plain hurt.

I didn't wear the orthotics again until Monday, when I ran two miles.  Feet hurt.  I didn't wear them again until Wednesday, when I ran two miles.  Feet didn't hurt - yay!  So I'd say the worst of getting used to them is over; now it will be interesting to see if they do what they're supposed to, which is to help stabilize the motion of landing, which in theory should help my ankle, and also help relieve/heal the plantar fasciitis pain. 

Oh, and as for the arthritic bone spur (or midfoot arthrosis, as the official diagnosis says), that's a problem.  My doctor said that may be the thing that ends my running earlier than I'd like, but that's a bridge I'm not willing to cross, much less approach, right now.  In the meantime, he will be giving me a lidocaine shot into that spot soon.  I'm looking forward to having a needle stuck into the top of my foot, that's how much it hurts. 

I wish I didn't belong to the degeneration generation.  I would gladly turn in my membership card, if only I could find someone in charge.  For now, I'll just keep doing what I've been doing and cross my fingers that the orthotics make a difference in how I feel.

36 comments:

  1. I have heard good things about orthotics! I hope they help you and take away your pain. My friends that use them swear by them. I think they do take getting used to wearing. You will have to update us on how your doing with them. Bummer that you couldn't have both the orthotic and the Birkies.
    I'm getting where I don't like shoes period! I like to go barefoot at home and when I do wear shoes they have to be well cushioned, my beloved Asics for exercise and mostly flat, no heels for me the rest of the time when I go out. I think we would all rather wear out versus rust out from not exercising.

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  2. Aww yes, I would have liked to seen the pictures of the fitting process but know what you mean about probably being inappropriate to take pics at that time. I wanted to do the same thing the other day while my PT was showing me a new taping technique! Hope these orthodics are gonna work for you.
    Isn't it funny to hear people say "just how much longer do you plan on running?". Like we've expired or something..lol

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    1. Haha, I know - I didn't think there was an age limit on running!

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  3. I won't share with you the story of my custom orthotics, prescribed for my heel spur and PF. I won't share with you what they did to my big toe. And that they didn't help at all. And that I was taken out of them by a foot orthopedic surgeon. My sports med told me to buy Spenco orthotics, which are soft, and that seems to be helping more than anything I've tried. PF sucks.

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    1. Thanks for not sharing the gory details, LOL. But thanks for the alert, just in case I start to notice things going south. I'm committed to giving these a good try, but I'm not married to them, should they end up causing more problems.

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  4. I did get prescribed for orthotics after I recovered from an inflamed Achilles. They were hard to get used to and were never really comfortable but I wore them.

    After I broke my ankle and didn't run for so long, they were very uncomfortable. I went back to my doctor and he said they were fine.

    Guess what? I've never worn them again. The Achilles sometimes has twinges and I stretch it.

    GL with yours. I hope they provide you with relief.

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    1. I think orthotics are a mixed bag as to whether or not they help people, but that kinda makes sense, seeing as we're all different.

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  5. What a tough few weeks for your poor feet. I hope the new orthotics help you, so you can continue to do what you love. ☺

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  6. PF really sucks. I know the common thought is that you can recover in a couple months but both times I've had it, it took around a year and that was with me actively addressing it. So dumb.

    I have worn Superfeet in my shoes since I fractured my foot, mostly because I'm too cheap to pay for orthotics which my doc said would run $200-250!!!

    I hope yours give you the relief you're looking for.

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    1. PF does suck.

      I hope these help, I really do. It was worth a try, anyway, right?

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  7. Degeneration generation--I've never heard that! Good description. Well, the comments seem to be divided over whether the orthotics help or not! I sure hope yours continue to help. I've always wondered--do they make your shoes tighter, like feeling like you need a larger shoe?

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    1. They do make my shoes a little tighter, but after the first go round in each pair, I loosened the laces and got them adjusted. I haven't put them in my Danskos yet (it's been too hot) so hopefully that will be a similar adjustment with the strap.

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  8. I've had 2 sets of orthotics - one was for a broken bone in my foot (to take the pressure off that area) and the set I currently wear is for knee pain. I have had great success with them, but I know that's not always the case. The fitting process is very interesting! I love your pizza box analogy! My husband also has a pair for his PF and thanks me weekly that I urged him to go in and have them made. In our case, they were more than $100, but you can't put a price on pain free walking, running, etc.

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    1. That was my thought - if they work, they're worth the cost...I was just relieved that they weren't super expensive. Good to hear that yours work for you.

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  9. There definitely is a "breaking in" period for orthotics. I hope they work for you like they are supposed to. That is a pretty high arch, too!

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    1. The breaking in period would probably go faster if I was wearing shoes all day long, but I'm still in my (orthotic) flip flops because it's still freaking hot here.

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  10. Oh my! I hope the orthotics work wonders!!!!!!!

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  11. Your poor feet!!! The orthotics are going to be great! I have them and love them!

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  12. After my metatarsal stress fracture, I developed a neuroma (extra nerve growth) which still occasionally causes pain on top of my foot. I went through a series of alcohol injections to kill those nerves. The first shot was painful, but the subsequent shots weren't nearly as bad. I'm like you -- do whatever it takes!! I hope the orthotics are the ticket for you! Oddly, those have never been suggested to me.

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    1. I had the Lidocaine shots about four years ago; except for nearly passing out the first time from holding my breath, I was fine. This time I just need to remember to breathe through the process.

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  13. Dear Hubby goes in on Wednesday to get a steroid shot and fitted for his orthotics. His are going to cost us $550, though :-( Stoopid insurance paid for all his physical therapy to try and relieve his PF, and paid for 4 podiatrist visits so far, but said "no way" to the orthotics. But I agree with all who say, if it helps, it's worth it. Poor man has been in some level of pain for a year and a half!

    He also has a bone spur - is surgery an option for that, or is it just something you have to live with?

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    1. Ugh, I'm sorry your husband's orthotics will cost so much! But yes, if it helps him, then it's worth it, for sure.

      My doctor hasn't mentioned anything about doing surgery for the bone spur, and he's an orthopedic surgeon, so you'd think, if that was in the cards, he would have said something. Not that I'm willing or ready for something so drastic like that just yet.

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    2. Surgery does sound drastic, but hobbling for the rest of his life doesn't sound good either :-( DH did get his shot yesterday and said he was pain free for the first time in a long time - hopefully the orthotics will help keep that pain-free streak going! I have great empathy for those of you with chronic foot pain.

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  14. So hoping the orthotics help!! And for the record, I LOVE the expression degeneration generation. I'm right there with you!!!!!!

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    1. I just did a quick google search and that expression doesn't seem to be in use, so I'm copyrighting it, LOL. J/K, too lazy, but you heard it here first, kids. ;)

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  15. That's tough. I hope your feet feel better. It must be frustrating.

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    1. Thanks - it is frustrating, but I'm kind of used to it.

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  16. It's just not fair that this happens to you, you who loves to run so much! Fingers crossed that the injection will help and that it will take years and years before you have to stop running, preferably when you are 95 or something like that.

    Glad to hear the orthotics helps.

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    1. I agree! And it's not like I've been running all my life - I figured I should get at least 10 years in before things begin to start falling apart, LOL.

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  17. Hey, it's not just your generation! One of my running buddies who just turned 40 had a bone spur with a stress fracture on it. WTF, right? Did they talk about surgery on it? :( I hope you continue to get use to your invisible shoes (lol!!!!) and those alleviate most of the issues!!!

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    1. No surgery talk about the bone spur - not sure I'd want to go down that road anyway, eek.

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  18. I had excellent results by wearing Dansko clogs at work during the day, losing and keeping my 66 of 70+ pounds off, and taking off my shoe and stretching my arch on the curb or fence post.

    I almost became disabled from the PF pain and couldn't walk when I was only 43 years old. Walking half marathons was the worst thing I could do. Walking 5-6 miles over the day at a normal weight was the best thing I did.

    Good luck and I remember how painful it was. If I could go back, I would have not done the half marathon training. I'm a single, head of house hold and cannot afford to be disabled so young, or really any time. Ugh. Hind site is awesome. LOL ;)

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