Don’t be a plantar fasciitis wimp!

February 23, 2016

plantar-fasciitisSome 10 years ago I spent the better part of a day walking around Vienna–maybe a total of 10 miles. That’s Vienna, Austria, so you can understand why I was happy to walk so much. My Ecco shoes seemed up to the task, but …  When I woke up next morning I could barely bear weight on my foot for the sharp, stabbing pain.  Those of you who have experienced plantar fasciitis know that morning horror well. At the time, though, I was ignorant. I just figured I’d walked too much.

When the pain didn’t go away, I saw a podiatrist.  He diagnosed plantar fasciitis. If you’ve ever had that stabbing pain in your heel, you know what PF is. It’s an overuse injury and it’s pretty common in the over 40 years of age crowd.

What can be done about plantar fasciitis?

Usually, it starts gradually with mild pain at the heel bone. Most people feel it after and not during exercise, so it’s easy to think you just “did too much.”  Once you’ve got it, the pain occurs all the time– right after getting up in the morning and after a period of sitting. Just stepping onto the floor is agony.

If plantar fasciitis is not treated, it may become a chronic condition, affecting your level of activity. Because PF can change the way you walk, you may also develop symptoms of foot, knee, hip and back problems.  Read that sentence again. It’s true.

State-of-the-art treatment is a big old needle full of cortisone right into the heel.

That did not sound good, so I asked my podiatrist for alternatives.  What I got was advice to take ibuprofen and lots of it, and a boot to strap my foot into each night before bed.  Dr. Podiatrist told me that this method would take far longer than a shot, and might not even work.  I have always been pretty averse to needles, so I was game to try the non-needle treatment first.

Nothing happened. I mean NOTHING. It never got better. Every morning I faced the agony of placing my feet on the floor and standing up. And all day long it bothered me. At the three week mark I called for an appointment to get the shot of cortisone.

Let me rephrase that:  I BEGGED for the shot.

As Dr. Podiatrist filled a syringe –with the biggest needle I’ve ever seen— with cortisone, he told me a few things:

It can take up to three shots several weeks apart to get relief.

It is a painful injection right into your heel. Painful with a capital P.

The more painful it is, the higher the chance that it’ll work after one or two shots.

Sometimes it doesn’t work at all.

plantar-fasciitisI would make a lousy morphine addict

My response was: “Please get your nurse in here.”  Because I knew I had to hold on to someone’s hand while I was shot up.

See, I’d make a lousy morphine addict. Not only do I not LIKE morphine, having had it once after surgery, but I could never shoot myself up. Ever.

Dr. Podiatrist took hold of my foot, I took hold of the nurse’s hand, and he shot me up.

I won’t lie: It hurt like hell.

The first shot helped, but wasn’t completely successful. I called for a second shot. I called even knowing how painful the first was. That’s because I did NOT want to sleep in a boot, eat ibuprofen every day or feel that horrible morning heel pain.

That shot worked. PF gone.

A few years later I felt it again and I headed straight in for a shot. This time it only took one.

plantar fasciitis

My shoes.

Recently, after a few weeks of treadmill running in lousy shoes, I felt PF coming on. Just a hint of what could come. I know it was from running on the treadmill because I was pounding hard.  I did some research and ordered KURU athletic shoes. Thanks to the great support in these shoes, I headed off the pain. They aren’t paying me to promote them, I just love the shoes and won’t buy another brand ever again. You can find them online and some of the styles are recommended for PF. If you’ve got it, order those shoes. You won’t regret it.

One of the great mysteries of life

Now, here’s the thing that I do not understand.  I know about half a dozen people who suffer with plantar fasciitis and they absolutely refuse the shot. I’ve told them  — in detail — my experience, but still, they won’t get shot up. They’re men, men who have been living with the agony of PF for YEARS. Most strap themselves into the boot every night.  Some are avid hikers. They feel heel pain all the time or most of the time.   Two of them did order KURUs at my suggestion and one says the shoes are really helping his heel. The key word is helping. The pain is not gone. But me? I’m pain free because I took the shots.

Here’s the mystery:

There is an effective treatment that is likely to handle the pain: a shot of cortisone.  But none of these men will go for one.

I do not understand this. At all.  If you were in chronic pain and someone told you that the chances were good a couple of shots would take it away, wouldn’t you at least give it a go?

Whiskey Foxtrot Tango??  That’s WTF for you civilians.

Why do you think they are plantar fasciitis wimps?


53 comments on “Don’t be a plantar fasciitis wimp!
  1. Do they tell you why they don’t want the shot? Maybe they don’t know enough about it? Sometimes the side effects or rumors could affect a person’s decision to get treated. I doubt it’s the needle itself. Now I’m curious ????

  2. Lord have mercy, Men Refusing the shot …Well I always knew men can be wimps lol. I am truly glad you dont feel the PF pain anymore, I didnt even know that existed. Truth be told I sometimes over exercise and I know I should have the right shoes. Looks like I do. Thank gooodness!

    Thanks for sharing your story, By the way I love Vienna 🙂

  3. Gary Mathews says:

    Because it’s a big freaking needle or maybe because men are stubborn. If I ever develop it I’m taking that shot no worries here!

    • You are very smart. I can not even tell you how debilitating that pain is.

      • Beth says:

        The shots were very painful but worked for me when I had PF in my left foot 7 years ago. Unfortunately I developed pf in my right foot about 18 mos ago and nothing has worked. Tried shots, boot, & physical therapy. Nothing worked. I was living with pain. My only remaining option was surgery, which I just had 2 days ago. Can’t walk yet without pain. I’m hoping to heal fast and be pain free soon.

  4. Well I’m not sure how to answer here, because I am the biggest chicken alive! I am embarrassed to admit that I would probably prefer the pain instead of the shot?! LOL!

  5. chuck says:

    So, guess since I’m a man, I fit the model of “no shots” I will first acknowledge that plantar fascitis is one of the most painful things I’ve experienced, and I would give almost anything or do anything including a cortisone shot to alleviate it. I was essentially disabled, after indulging in long hikes when we moved to Park City, Utah. Skiing did not aggravate it, but hiking on steep trails did. Since I’d always hiked, gardened, and been an active walker, I was surprised by the supposed cause. And it hurt, like fury, every morning. Couldn’t get to the bathroom without crawling. This was fifteen years ago.

    And that ‘sleeping boot’ idea. Didn’t do anything for me. But what worked was less painful than ‘the shot’ and essentially very effective. I saw a podiatrist who ‘designed’ specially fitted orthodics for my shoes. They worked almost immediately, in terms of lessening pain as I tried to walk. After three months in them, I never had morning pain. And was able to continue {resume} hiking.

    I have vestiges of a flare now and again–maybe once every two or three years, for which ‘cushioned heels’ available for like twenty-five bucks at the drugstore solve the issue.

    I’d do cortisone shots if my ‘simple remedies’ didn’t work. This is disabling pain stuff, and if it’s fixable, fix it

  6. Shari Eberts says:

    Wow – that sounds painful. But good advice. I will warn my husband about this too. Not sure why people would not get the shot. I would rather have a shot than chronic pain. Thanks for sharing.

    • Robbie Moreland says:

      I got the shot. It was like a miracle for maybe 5 days. Then the pain came back. But worse! Now I feel the PF pain AND the same pain I felt when the doc stuck that huge needle in my heel. There is no way in hell I’m doing that shot again in this inflamed painful heel. Wearing tennis shoes around the house now when I’m not sleeping and a stretching boot at night. Oh, and I’m not a dude 🙂

      • Patti says:

        I had the shot and it was the most painful shot I have ever had…and it did not work and I also now have after effects of the shot pain with stabbing needle pain here and there and the PF pain…it is just aweful.

  7. Kate says:

    After a year of pain I had surgery for this last summer. And yes, I had a shot but the relief was temporary. Doc didn’t suggest a series. Anyway, surgery was in July and my foot still isn’t back to normal. I was told complete recovery could take a year. Sigh. Will definitely order the shoes, Carol. I have orthotics and my Vionic shoes are pretty good. It’s a very frustrating, painful problem.

    • That is awful, Kate. This podiatrist told me, as I recall and I could be wrong, the series was up to 3 shots. The first time I needed two. A few years later, one did it. But nothing really in at least 8 years. I am so sorry this happened to you.

    • The pain in my heel in the morning was Horrible! I would hop around to get my morning coffee.I saw a podiatrist who for the first month put me in a brace for 2 hours a night to stretch the ligament in the bottom of my foot.It helped somewhat but still had pain.

      I opted for the cortisone shot.It stung but for just a short time and the relief was instant.Almost 3 weeks later no pain.To live with pain constantly or 10 seconds of discomfort is a no brained.Get the shot and no more hopping around in the a.m.

  8. I have had 2 back surgeries but before going under the knife I opted for the shot and you are so right it is very painful. I was devastated when I had a bad reaction to it. I wanted it to work SO badly because that surgery was hell.

  9. I never heard of those shoes but am definitely going to check them out. I’ve had plantar fascitis and it hurt so freaking badly. I’m not really sure why it went away but it did and I am sitting here knocking on wood now because I do NOT want it to come back! P.S. I would get a shot in a second!

  10. Karen Austin says:

    Wow. I haven’t talked with anyone about PF. It sounds very unfun. Thanks for sharing your experience, Carol, so those who are dealing with this understand some of the options. Ouchie ouchie.

  11. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I am not a wimp when it comes to getting relief from pain. I AM a wimp with pain!

  12. Jennifer says:

    That’s the one foot ailment I haven’t had. I’d take the shot. Maybe people don’t, because they’re worried about the side effects of steroids. Me? Take away the pain! Show me the needle.

  13. andrea says:

    if it’s for something like plantar fascitis, absolutely – but for other things, i wouldn’t necessarily take any kind of shots!

  14. As a person who has had PF in both feet (not simultaneously!), I went the route of Good Feet store ridiculously expensive foot inserts. I wear them with my exercise shoes and any shoe. Weirdly I do not need them when I wear flip flops with a bit of an arch (Roxy and other brands), probably due to the foot flexing muscles with every step. My new fun is arthritis and a bunion on my left foot. Grrr. Glad to know cortisone is an option.

  15. Liv says:

    I might be getting this – but had no idea. Thanks Carol!

  16. Jennifer says:

    I used to have plantar fasciitis and the cortisone shot never helped me. I had it done twice and of all the places I’ve ever had it done, the foot was the most painful. 20 years ago I had surgery that took away all the pain away and it’s never come back.

  17. Carin Harris says:

    Ouch! I had the first shot, had to cancel my second appointment and never booked it again unfortunately. I have very large heel spurs too. It seemed to just show up for no reason. I’ve intended to go back – it’s been a year and a half. As long as I wear my Asics I’m ok. Forget any other shoe though. 🙁 Now it’s just a matter of booking that appointment. (And YES it was one of the most painful things I’ve ever had done to me – the but nurse holding my hand helped.)

  18. Rosemond says:

    A friend of mine has this right now and I’m so bummed because we were doing some road races and runs together. Hope she won’t have to get that huge needle! eek!

  19. I’ve had plantar fascitis and it seriously messed up my entire right leg. In fact, the podiatrist I consulted said it was actually osteo-arthritis (and we won’t go into the rest of what that bozo said). He insisted that physical therapy wouldn’t help at all. Went in for PT for something else and the therapist not only pointed out that my osteo-arthritis was actually the leftovers of plantar fascitis, he gave me a stretch to do. I line up my big toe perpendicular to and an inch or two away from a vertical surface, like a wall or light post, then keeping my foot flat, lean foward and touch my knee to the vertical surface. The pain – that had gotten worse after doing what the podiatrist suggested – was gone. Done. I suspect mine wasn’t as bad as yours, hence the need for the shot. But that stretch was magic and if I even come close to feeling that pain come on, I stretch.

  20. Thanks for sharing your experience, Carol. I used to have plantar fasciitis.

  21. Jonathan Key says:

    I’ve never had plantar fasciitis. Physical therapy sounds like a good option but otherwise I guess the shots are the way to go. So sorry you are going through this.

  22. Lisa Rios says:

    I am not sure if surgery could be a permanent solution as it differs on every individuals health as well. Thanks for sharing your experience & those shoes sounds great as well.

  23. I hear what you’re saying loud and clear. I’ve found that if I wear shoes with good support most of the time, I can get away with cheap shoes some of the time. Good shoes for me: Dansko’s and anything else my custom insert fits into. Have also heard good things about Haflinger Slippers for arch support. I hope these will help me to never have to have painful shots!

  24. Steve Childe says:

    Yep, had the shot (two injections – same time), and the Doc wasn’t kidding when he pre-warned me that it would be horribly uncomfortable. You don’t say ! Been three days now and I’m still waiting for the magic to work, though I’ve been assured it will, and I trust my judgement in having the procedure undertaken.

    I’d not researched it too much, but it’s amazing that we humans go looking for scenarios after we get the therapy done. Am being patient, and will stay-off walking whilst playing golf (Buggy now a necessity), but in any event, the pain today is about as consistent to when I hadn’t had the jab last week. Unfortunately orthotics may suit some, but I’m far from patient, and remedies are highly sought after in my private little world. Hopefully week 2 will show some positive signs, but I can guarantee that “instant” pain relief definitely wasn’t there, but the pain in my hip-pocket hurts like hell !

  25. McKenzie says:

    Plantar fascitis is so common! Different treatments help different people though. Thanks for sharing your story!

  26. Amelia says:

    You mean Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Not Whiskey Foxtrot Tango. 😉

  27. Robin Smith says:

    I am a city letter carrier. I get paid to WALK, essentially. 7 miles a day is not unusual. All this fun began last week. I did’nt know anything about PF before now. Went to RiteAid to get insoles (padding seemed a good idea). Did’nt work. A day of rest Sunday, back to work Monday (pain was horrendous but I didn’t stop. “The mail will go through” and all that BS.) Tuesday was my day off – rested again. Wednesday (yesterday) back to work. Same pain. Went into work, sorted my mail in the office and to the street I went. That first step out of my mail truck was excruciating! I knew it would be so I just stood in the doorway, looking at the ground, knowing I had to leave the truck and WALK. I did. It hurt like hell and I put one foot in front of the other, rather slowly, and commenced WALKING. I found it interesting that driving from one block to the next block to deliver the mail was the very worst part of the day. Every day! Just resting my foot for a minute or two was THE worst thing I could have done. Knowing that first step down out of the truck was going to be something I did not want to do yet had to do, as gingerly as I could I placed my foot on the ground and swore! I’ve done a lot of swearing lately. To keep myself from having to return to the truck for another block, I combined blocks. I found the longer I walked without a break, the more tolerable it was. Now that is not to say it wasn’t painful. (I thought of the blind young man who ascended Mt. Everest during these longer walks. How could I dare complain about a little foot pain!)
    I made it. I did my job. I was nearly incapacitated by this time ( 6 hours had passed). Back at the office, do you think ONE damn supervisor asked why I was limping?!!!! You’re right – NOT A ONE. They operate off the premise that we all lie about the severity of aches and pains.
    Got home. Put my feet up. My husband ordered a pair of GoodFeet green insoles ( I have high arches). Arrival on Friday. Today is Thursday and I have no relief. Not wanting a repeat of yesterday, I called in sick and probably will tomorrow unless the insoles arrive before 8am. Not likely I know. I’ve read many glowing reviews about the green insoles – they have to work for me. If not, I’m next going to a shoe store that carries KURU sneakers. These are not “postal approved” footwear so I will need a doctor’s note stating I must wear these shoes to work. Ridiculous isn’t it? Oh, yeah, can’t forget this further tidbit about the postal service. A co-worker could not get Workers Comp for the identical situation!!!!!! A LETTER CARRIER WALKS!!!!!
    That’s all I have for now. I will let you know how I fare with the new insoles.

  28. Marta Gray says:

    If you are a competitive athlete or just a person who enjoys high intensity/ high impact work outs and want to have a long career working out with high intensity, then DO NOt get multiple injections into your foot. Orthopedic ankle specialists will tell you no more than one shot in your foot in your life time!! It would be nice to think the the cortisone goes right into the plantar fascia and stays there, but it actually can cause fat pad atrophy, weakened Achilles‘ tendon, among many other nasty effects. I would say that if your PF is not getting better after orthotics, proper rest and stretching then you have another condition that should be looked at by an orthopedic specialist. I’m never going back to a podiatrist!! They are not medical doctors and love billing for cortisone shots and recommending unnecessary treatments especially in the over 50 population.

  29. Nayeem says:

    I have heel spur since several months. Tried custom insoles, heel cushions, applying ointments, stretching, etc. All of these never worked in relieving the pain. Am thinking of going for a cortisone shot. Any idea how many days I would have to take rest without walking after taking the cortisone shot? I guess it would be better take off from office work for at least 2 or 3 days after taking the shot? Since it pains a lot like hell, I wonder why don’t the doctors use anesthesia before giving the shots?

  30. Daniel Chamley says:

    Hi, My name is Daniel and 36 and I have high functioning Autism which means when I go to the doctors or a specialist I always struggle to express my pain levels. Anyway ……….big breath in and exhale……anyway I will get to the point. 3 years ago I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my foot and it hurt like hell…like standing on a knife. The pain soon passed and I hobbled around getting on with my work. The next day I had really bad lower back pain…I mean I went rigid. As you imagine I have now told my doctors my legs twitch at night and my feet burn and my back hurts and I have sciatic pain. After seeing the doctors and waiting and referrals I got seen by a neurologist who then gives me a once over and refers for lower back MRI. My back got better and my scan comes back clear. The pain the doesn’t go away from my legs and feet and I’m referred to a rheumatologist by which point I’m walking with a gait and my hips hurt and my feet are turning in. She takes 30 seconds to diagnose me with Fibromyalgia and passes me a leaflet via a nurse on the way out the door that I read as ‘In pain for the rest of your life’. I’m on allsorts of meds and cant cope with the pain. The pain over now 3 years became so tiresome I was depressed I couldn’t think, I was always angry at everyone and it ruined friendships and relationships but I had to carry to going to work because I need the money. Finally today, I went to my doctor after being to pain management and I told them I’ve had enough of being messed about and suddenly I get offered the injection for next week and they don’t understand why its taken so long…….Its a bit messy and rushed but I really needed to rant about this because I feel like I’ve had plantar fasciitis for so long and the thought of putting a needle anywhere near my feet makes me want to pass out. Do you think it’s been a miss by the doctors? I’m utter gobsmacked at where I stand….excuse the pun. I need to work and I walk a lot on hard shop floors.

  31. I’m a 57 YO with PF..I was on a great daily or almost daily walking regiment. I lost 50 lbs with change in diet and those fantastic daily constitutionals and averaged about 3.5 miles a day.

    Having started this walking in May of 2017 about the middle of September, I noticed the pain in my right heal. At first I thought it was a spur, but like so many…nope, it was PF. The Doctor did the normal boot and so on and I found that I could not get a decent nights sleep with the boot, so I went to the sock…Didn’t fix the problem, but at least my sleep was better.

    So, I having an appointment in less than week as a follow up with the podiatrist again. What I want to know is if the topical numbing spray takes much of the pain of the shot away. I had this type of shot in my shoulder a few years ago and although the shot still hurt a bit, it wasnt all that bad…Did you get the topical numbing or did you go au’naturale? My orthotics have helped a little and am religious about having them in my shoes at all times. I have had them now for almost 2 months and still have pain. Not to the extent I had without them, but it still there.

    Your input on the topical numb and how it helped ease the shot would be helpful… I feel your pain 🙂

  32. Sandra says:

    I’ve been putting up with PF for about 7 years and still too scared to get the injection

  33. Ryan says:

    It’s not about being a wimp. Cortisone shots to ligamentish tissue have known side effects, specifically to PF, it can actually break down the PF and cause it to rupture over time(this has happened to me in my right foot). Now facing a nasty heel bone bruise and PF in my left foot, after stretching and PT have not worked I am moving onto Prolotheraphy. Bottom line here is, if you’re an active person, meaning you do intense workouts and or sports, you should probably not get a cortisone shot to your PF. For the average Joe or Jane that simply walks for exercise, you may be ok getting a cortisone shot as the stress on the PF will not be great.

  34. Lina says:

    I must say that this article makes a great contribution and also helps to become aware of the reality that plantar fasciitis is, many do not give the importance of this condition, but as you said in the post if not taken into account it can affect the health of your feet and your way of life, thanks for the article

  35. Alex says:

    Not only plantar fasciitis we should take care of every kind of disease before it gets bigger, thanks a lot for sharing the article and raising awareness.

  36. Edward Hunt says:

    Cortisone destroys tissue. Stay away from it if at all possible! If this is the first thing that your doctor offers you for heel pain, I recommend you find another doctor….

  37. Melanie says:

    WTF is actually Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Just sayin’ ?

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