When I was 30 years old, I played tennis with some college kids, 18, 19 years old. I had always been agile. After a game I jumped over the tennis net. No big whoop until that awful day. I jumped--no problem, but when I landed, I landed, bam, on my heel bone, the left heel. That was the most extraordinary pain--extraordinary as in horrific, torturous, terrible. Someone took me to the emergency room. The way the x-ray was taken showed a sprain only--no heel damage. Would it have made a difference if the doctor had known my heel bone, that tip of the skeleton, had been crushed one-half an inch? Well, of course, I'll never know.
I went to Europe three months later, still in pain, and still on crutches. I managed luggage and carrying all my own personal items. Age, I was young, independent and capable. I could get around on those crutches better than most people on foot.
Summer was over, school started, and the football coach demanded to know why I was still on crutches. "Get a shot," he told me. Cortisone. I did and began walking the next day. That's when I learned the magic of cortisone, but that's another story.
My body had to learn to re-align itself to the new dynamics of one leg one-half inch shorter. Believe me, there is a difference. The use of monthly feminine products became painful--new alignment. Even intimacy became painful until my body adjusted.
The year went by with periodic flare-ups of heel pain. During these flare-ups, I learned that I had cracked another bone on the side of the same foot playing basketball a few years before the tennis episode. I knew it was painfully sprained, but a new x-ray showed a slight realignment where that crack was.
Soooo--this past spring, both injuries, done so long ago, declared war on my aging body. I limped painfully for weeks, through cortisone shots, through pain medicine. Painfully. Then one Saturday morning I awoke to a new raging pain in the heel of my right foot. What??!! My right foot?! Could not be. No, no! How will I walk if BOTH feet are in pain? I could not walk on that right foot--literally, I had to crawl. I massaged, rubbed on arthritis gel, cried, but nothing worked. I managed to get myself to a clinic where I learned about the terrible planter fasciitis. A terrible thing.
I keep thinking about early humans. What was it like to develop this condition if there are no clinics, no doctors, no medication, nothing? What did they do? Through the centuries, right up to today. Why do I ask? Because there is no surgery, no relief, except time. Yes, I can go to physical therapy, which is absolutely wonderful for what?--a few hours? Gotta work. Means gotta walk. Back to square one. Pain.
So, what is planter fasciitis? I'll start with what it is not. It is not planter's warts. People have heard of that condition--it's totally different. "Planter" means "bottom of the foot," and that's the only thing the two conditions have in common. Warts are on the bottom of the foot, or planter. The fascia is a thick tendon that connects from the Achilles tendon, which itself runs along the back of the leg--they connect at the back of the hell, the two tendons--then to the toes. The worst tear or strain or inflammation occurs in the heel. Oh, to exacerbate matters, the heelbone spins out a spur to counteract the pain of the fascia. That spur can be removed (if one wants another boatload of pain), but one must simply wait for the fascia to heal.
Again, therapy and medication are good, but so temporary. There is one more means of alleviating the pain: a horrific cortisone injection into the heel itself. I by-passed that when the orthopedist himself told me it was painful, and get this, does not help some people. I opted for physical therapy. The therapist gave me exercises to do to stretch that fascia tendon, plus ice and heat treatment.
One more thing, I saw an ad on television for an orthotics device conveniently at this time and ordered it. I've walked around the house with it and think it may help. If so, I'll come back and say what it is.
My experience with planter fasciitis confirms what my mother always told me: Time will heal all wounds. Not all, but you know what she means.
For more information, here are a couple of links about planter fasciitis: