Foot Problems? Nooooooo! (Part 2)

In my last article titled, "Foot Problems? Nooooooo! (Part 1)" I shared about some pain that began in my right foot this summer. As an active person it was a bit worrisome! As I promised, I am now back with Part 2 to share my experience with you about my visit to the Podiatrist and some pearls of wisdom I gained after meeting with the Podiatrist and a few other members of my health care team.

Whether it is helpful to you now or at some point in the future, sometimes hearing information from a real person or 'actual patient' can be more helpful and easy to relate with in my experience than fact sheets written by experts. And maybe a little more interesting too! (If I'm doing my job right!). 

The Appointment

So I showed up at my Podiatrist appointment with no idea what to expect. The waiting room was filled with people double my age, many with walkers and canes. I felt a little out of place and as the youngest person at the clinic, there were a lot of eyes on me.

I was put in a room and after a brief check in with a nursing assistant, the doctor came in. He was immediately intrigued by my line of work as a "diabetes blogger" that I had scribbled on my intake form. And the excuse I gave when he caught me taking a picture of myself on the cool podiatry patient chair as he entered the room? "It's for the blog.." Works every time. :)

Me in a sweet red medical recliner!

Seriously though, why don't they have chairs like this in endo clinics? It kind of feels like a recliner, (I know, a medical one..) but I like it! 

I told him everything that is going on and after his physical examination of my feet, I asked what might be wrong. He was not ready to throw out a diagnosis yet and said he was going to run some tests first.

Testing 1-2-3

Testing started with x-rays of my feet. Then I had to go in a back room where the doctor was waiting. He had me take off my shoes and placed a slightly raised square pad on the floor which he instructed me to walk over just so. He had me walk across it about 3 times with both feet. The purpose? To check what areas of pressure were hitting the pad and if the areas that showed pressure were the areas that should show pressure.

He gave me this handout explaining that my big toes do not touch the ground with enough pressure when I walk which causes stress in my arches.

Factual report about my feet after walking on pressurized mat

Reviewing the results of my x-ray came back with all good news. There was no sign of arthritis or bone spurs. Thank goodness! That is my foot on an x-ray picture and my Podiatrist, in case you were wondering what he looks like... By this point he was fascinated by all the pictures I was taking and all of my questions too... Or he played along like he was. :)

My Podiatrist with an x-ray of my footThe Diagnosis..

He instructed me to head back to the room where he reviewed his findings and gave me a diagnosis. Plantar Fasciitis*. It didn't sound so bad until he told me that I would not be able to go on a walk for two whole weeks! I could not believe my ears---as someone who walks with her pooch 3-5 miles every day!

*My Plantar Fasciitis is not related to my Type 1 diabetes and actually tends to affect athletes or active individuals at a higher rate.

For treatment he put a few pads under the insoles of my tennis shoes. One under each big toe so that when I walk the pressure would be received there as it should be, one under the right arch and another under the heel of the right foot - a lift. He did a non-scientific measurement with his hands and determined my right leg is just a little shorter than the left. He then told me to wear my tennis shoes with inserts from the time I wake up until I go to bed at night. And to come back in two weeks.

Recheck with the Podiatrist!

Two weeks later I showed back up at the clinic for my recheck. I mentioned my interest in orthotics (foot insert specially fit for your feet fit by a podiatrist) as my store bought insoles seemed to be worn out and needing replacement. The nursing assistant told me to call my insurance to find out what coverage I had for them and that she would wait to send the doctor in until I received this information.

I called my insurance and was informed that they would cover new custom orthotics at 100%. I was elated. I then received some disheartening news once the doctor came in. After completing another physical examination and asking me some questions I was expecting him to release me to my daily walks again. After all, I had been so diligent to not go on any walks for two whole weeks!

Treatment Recommendations

Instead, he told me that once my right foot was pain free or at a 90% level of no pain for ONE week that I could resume my walks again. If this wasn't bad enough, he then told me I had to slowly train back up to my long walks again. So after one week with no pain I could walk a 1/2 mile a few times that week. Week two if still no pain I could progress up to one mile and so forth until reaching my desired 4+ mile daily walks.

He said the BIGGEST mistake people make after taking time off to recover from an injury is they start out strong right after they feel better and at the same duration of exercise they completed when they were at a pre-injury status (example: running 8 miles right off the bat). After spending two whole weeks on the sidelines I sure was not going to jeopardize my newly healed foot by getting out there too quick and too much.

Orthotics!

My foot mold in foam for custom orthoticsBefore I left he also fit me for the orthotics. While sitting in a chair he had me lift each leg down into this weird foam while he firmly pressed my foot down into the material. While I forgot to take a picture while my feet were being fitted, I did remember to snap one of the imprints of my feet! Kind of cool. This folded up like a shoe box to be mailed off to the factory. He also sent me to another clinic this time to get an actual x-ray to measure the difference in leg heighth as I mentioned problems with knee pain in the past and my sacrum going out of alignment frequently. With both legs at the same height, it should fix both of these problems! Yay! 

Recommendations for Healing from other Healthcare Professionals

So now I sit here and wait. Some days there is no pain. Other days there is. I take foot baths with epsom salt and baking soda which are kind of relaxing and practice yoga 2-3 times a week to stretch out my foot and leg muscles. Both recommendations of my classical homeopath to heal.


Foot soak with epsom salt and baking sodaI must admit, foot baths feel rather spa like! (Not that I would really know what that feels like, but it's what I imagine it feels like...). And my feet are now softer and smoother as I use a pumice stone after they soak. One silver lining.. :)

Before bed I rub some homeopathic Arnica Montana cream onto the underside of my right foot before putting on a boot that keeps my foot in a locked (flexed) position with toes pointing up toward my nose. A friend emailed me to buy this boot as it is the only thing that helped her foot heal when she had plantar fasciitis.

Several weeks ago I started getting massages for my foot where the therapist begins the appointment by working the underside of my right foot and moves her way up my ankle, calf and even above the knee on the back of my leg! She says that these muscles which are very tight can all contribute to plantar fasciitis.

I have also received other recommendations such as stretches and exercises to strengthen my foot and some special soft balls to roll my foot on available through an online company. Today at physical therapy for another issue I asked for any recommendations for my foot and was given a handful of strengthening exercises.

Some days are easier than others. Today was a beautiful day and I wanted nothing more than to be with my pooch on a long walk during these few short months of summer we receive in Minnesota. I wait patiently for the phone to ring letting me know my orthotics are in which I feel will assist my foot in healing too. Any day now...

A Few Helpful Things I Have Learned:

1. Listen to your body. Do not take foot pain lightly as I did. If you have foot pain, consider staying off your feet and cutting back on your normal activities.

2. Trust your gut. Believe it or not, I mentioned my sore foot to three different members of my healthcare team! Because none of them mentioned seeing a podiatrist or expressed much serious concern, I further assumed my sore foot was not all that serious and would not worsen to the point of not being able to go on my daily walks which are a HUGE part of my self care and diabetes management.

2. Visit a Podiatrist. Call your insurance first to find out if you need a referral from your primary care doctor. Get the names of a few clinics in your area. Then schedule. Consider annual visits with a Podiatrist to keep your feet healthy and problem free.

3. Follow your doctor's instructions so you can heal. It has been several weeks now for me without a daily walk. I miss it and it is not easy to hold myself back from something i love so much! As I mention above, I will need to abstain from my walks possibly for another few weeks. The Podiatrist said if I was to walk with the pain I now have, it would be like having a sore hand yet repeatedly punching the sore hand against the wall.

4. Find other ways to stay active that do not injure your foot further. I am able to swim and bike without aggravating my foot further so I am heading out on a bike ride tonight after dinner! Biking has become my exercise of choice every other day and I also use the elliptical machine on alternate days.

5. Stay positive. Having a foot injury or any kind of injury isn't easy for any of us. But, a big part of healing is staying hopeful and optimistic. With this much positivity, a wonderful environment for healing occurs.

6. Reach out for support. Call a friend. Spend time with a family member. Or hang out at home with your favorite pets. This was me returning from my initial Podiatry appointment. Jonah even gave me two hugs before I took this picture. Animals are acutely aware of when we need little cheering up.

Sweet Jonah comforting me after my appointment. Love him!

7. Revisit your doctor as directed. I saw my doctor two weeks after the initial diagnosis and will head back in to see him again once my orthotics are ready (any day!). Is it nerdy I am excited for orthotics to come in? Lol.

Good foot care is important. With diabetes it becomes even more important. As individuals with diabetes we can be at risk for serious foot problems. Read this DiabeticLifestyle article for more information and search "foot" on DiabeticLifestyle's website for many articles about the feet.

Learn from me and as I mention above, consider an annual appointment with a Podiatrist as part of your routine care and possibly catch a situation before it turns into a problem (something I really wish I would have known to do). Our feet are important! As we know, exercise helps a LOT with enhancing mood, keeping weight down and maintaining good blood sugar control and we must have healthy feet to get the exercise our bodies require.

Have you experienced plantar fasciitis or other foot issues that kept you on the sidelines for a while?

How did you stay positive and what did you do to heal?

 

In Peace & Wellness,

Cynthia

 

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