And the Diagnosis Is….

If you follow me on Twitter (if you don’t, shame on you.  Go do so here), you know that for the past two months I’ve complained intermittently about my left foot hurting.

You see, way back on January 15th, I was out for a super-easy run.  Nothing big.  Just around 3 miles at a leisurely pace.  Well, about two miles in, I felt a painful twinge in my left heel.  Almost as if I stepped on a rock.  I sort of ran through it, although I had to stop and walk a couple of times.  By the time I got home that night, I could hardly walk without limping.  Having dealt with all sorts of nagging injuries over the years, I suspected that I either (1) stepped on something and really bruised my heel, or (2) I had plantar fasciitis.  So that night, I iced my foot, rolled my calves with a foam roller and slept in my foot split.  The pain ebbed and flowed for a couple of days, but by the first of February I was almost pain-free.

Until I ran again. 

This time, I didn’t really have any pain while I ran, but by the time I was done running, my foot was done being pain-free.  And so I took off a couple more weeks.  All the while, I was icing some, rolling a lot, and my lacrosse ball and I became friendly.

Again, the pain started to subside.  So I ran again.  (You’re seeing a pattern develop here, right?)  Just as you would guess….no pain during the run, but crazy painful afterwards.

I was hoping that I didn’t have something majorly wrong with my foot. 

source: Tt.tennis-warehouse.com

source: Tt.tennis-warehouse.com

The red circle represents where my foot hurt the most.  In reality, if you slid the red circle down towards the bottom of my heel just a little, that’s actually where it hurt the most.  And my foot also hurt along the edges of my heel on both the lateral and medial side (that means on the inside and outside).  This didn’t feel like plantar fasciitis. 

As all self-respecting triathletes who think they are injured should do, I tried to self-diagnose myself.  I went to Google.  I read hundreds of articles, posts, and blogs about heel pain.  Achilles tendonitis?  Maybe.  Stress fractures?  Could be.  Plantar Fasciitis?  No way.  Almost everything I read said the pain was where the blue and green areas are on the graphic above.  In fact, the last time I had PF, it was where the blue area was.  Based on where my foot hurt, surely this was something serious!

Here we are, 60 days out from my initial feeling of pain, and I’ve only run 3 times in 2013!  How the heck am I supposed to be a triathlete if I can’t run?  How will I ever race in Knoxville in early May? 

I finally caved and called a podiatrist yesterday.  Based upon the experience of my teammate, Joshua, I decided to call Dr. Vimal Reddy at Jacksonville’s First Coast Foot & Ankle Clinic.  Surprisingly, they could see me this morning. 

I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t have a stress fracture or alien in my heel or something.

So this morning, I arrived at Dr. Reddy’s office and shared my story with the nurse.  I got a couple of x-rays done (I guess to rule out stress fracture) and then sat and waited for the good old doctor.  Dr. Reddy finally made his grand entrance, and I recapped again what has been ailing my foot.  He proceeded to do an ultrasound of both my feet and then announced…

“You’ve partially torn your plantar fascia.”

“WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!  But my arch doesn’t hurt!” I said.

Well, it turns out that many folks who have plantar fasciitis don’t actually feel the pain in their arch….they feel it exactly where I do.  And, it’s a good thing that I’ve been rolling, icing, and becoming BFF’s with my lax ball and golf ball, as those efforts have likely been keeping my PF from getting worse.  Dr. Reddy showed me on the ultrasound where I’ve got some really magnificent scar tissue built up, and then he proceeded to PUSH ON IT!  Which of course, hurt like crazy.

We talked about stretching, icing, and such….and about how I can’t run for at least two more weeks.  Then we talked about getting a cortisone shot to help with the swelling.

Oh.  Boy.

I’ve heard about those.  My wife has had a couple in her shoulder and says that they rank right up with childbirth in the pain department.  Now, I’m a big sissy when it comes to pain, so I’m not going to lie.  I was not looking forward to this.

Dr. Reddy sprayed some chemical stuff on my foot to numb it.  It sort of looked like the stuff that comes out of those cans of air that folks use to clean out their keyboards at work…you know the stuff that has warning about not exposing the liquid to skin because you could get frostbite!  And then, injection time, baby!

This is not my actual foot, but a good example of a doctor using Ultrasound to place a cortisone injection.  Source: bmj.com

This is not my actual foot, but a good example of a doctor using Ultrasound to place a cortisone injection. Source: bmj.com

Dr. Reddy used the ultrasound to pinpoint the needle (Ha – see that….PINpoint the NEEDLE) to the correct spot.  Holy COW!  IT HURT!!!!  I don’t know if it felt like child birthing pain or not, but it’s not a feeling I’d like to have on a regular basis.  As I was leaving I mentioned how painful the shot was to the receptionist.  She said that because he used the ultrasound he could pinpoint the exact spot to do the injection and there was no guesswork involved…but that approach did tend to hurt folks more.  Yay.  Lucky me.

Well, now we know.  The diagnosis is…Plantar Fasciitis.  No running for at least two more weeks.  Just more icing, rolling and making friends with my balls.  Um….that sounded bad.  My lacrosse and golf balls.  Hopefully that stuff, combined with a pretty rigorous stretching approach, will lead to some improvement.  I have read about some of the risks associated with having cortisone injections (like ruptured tendons), so I most likely will not have any more injections…hopefully one makes the swelling and pain abate some and then the more “natural” remedies I’ll follow will do the trick.

Have you ever had PF?  What did you do to overcome it?

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4 thoughts on “And the Diagnosis Is….

  1. I preferred rolling my arch/heel area on a tennis ball as opposed to something harder like a golf or lacrosse ball. Made it more ‘massage’ like with uniform pressure over a bit of a wider area.

  2. Good luck and hang in there… Curious now, I’m flat footed, am I still susceptible to PF?

  3. Oh man — this sucks. I’m so sorry to hear, but am so glad you got it checked. I too google all my ailments — try and fix them in my own stubborn – I don’t need a medical degree way.

    Speedy recovery!!

  4. That sucks man. But at least you got the correct diagnosis and are taking the proper steps to getting better. Make sure you stay off that sucker for the full two weeks!

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