Friday, October 04, 2019

Saying Goodby to Plantar Fasciitis. For Real.

My pronouncement that I was cured from my first bout of plantar fasciitis turned out to be wishful thinking. I thought for sure I'd kicked this condition, and yet pain in my left foot kept coming back after runs and long walks.

Using the night splint my friend Sue recommended helped, but still the pain refused to abate.

I promised myself that I'd give it one more month of stretching and then I'd return to the podiatrist for a followup. Fortunately, Shira ignored my timeline. She made me an appointment with Antonio at Full Motion Life and Sport, a local chiropractor who she'd talked with at her gym. He suggested he could help alleviate my symptoms.

I won't lie; I wasn't excited about going to a chiropractor. I had silly visions of strange procedures being done on my foot.

After chatting with me and assuring me that my injury could be dealt with, Antonio produced an ultrasound machine and rubbed the wand over my foot. After what seemed like 15 minutes of this, he turned off the machine and switched to messaging my foot. After another 15 minutes, my appointment was over. I'd relished Antonio's optimism, found the ultrasound and message to be pain free, and liked that I was taking active measures against my foot's condition. I was in. Antonio guessed that in 6 weeks I'd be running pain free; I was skeptical to say the least.

For the next five weeks, twice a week, I repeated the above treatment. While I felt my foot was healing, the process was far from linear. During this stretch I avoided running and only did a bit of light walking. Finally, after 5 weeks I cracked and went for a run:

The distance was short (about 3.5 miles) and the pace was glacial (11 min/mile), and yet I couldn't have been happier with the run. For the first time in months, I'd run pain free!

Two days later, I logged a 5 mile run. Again, no pain. And then I logged a 6 mile run the day after that. Still, no pain. I followed these runs with two back to back 8 mile runs.

I've now logged over a 120 pain free miles since that first successful run and can officially declare my plantar fasciitis resolved. Antonio worked his magic one week ahead of schedule.

Curious about the ultrasound technique, I did some poking around and found two studies on the topic: How effective is therapeutic ultrasound in the treatment of heel pain? and Additive Effect of Therapeutic Ultrasound in the Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. It appears that in both studies the ultrasound wasn't particularly effective. As the second study concludes:

The addition of therapeutic ultrasound did not improve the efficacy of conservative treatment for plantar fasciitis. Therefore, the authors recommend excluding therapeutic ultrasound from the treatment of plantar fasciitis and agree with results of previous studies that stretching may be an effective treatment for healing plantar fasciitis.

But here's the thing: the process worked. So whether it was the ultrasound, message, rest from running or simply time that corrected the issue I can't say. But after months of being sidelined, I don't much care. I'm just glad to be back to running! If injury strikes again, I'm definitely heading back to Full Motion Life and Sport for relief.

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