A successful Plantar Fasciitis story

In September of 2017 I suffered a bad sprain of my ankle, and shortly thereafter I started to develop pain in the sole of my foot and arch, especially in the morning upon first getting out of bed. 

I originally rested the foot (and stopped doing my normal work out program) to see if that would help, however the pain only got worse. The pain was worse after sitting for extended periods, or at the end of the day. It was made worse by walking longer distances and by standing for longer periods of time. 

I had been using insoles (Dr. Scholls) that you can buy at the pharmacy, and did notice some improvement with the arch support. After the initial month of resting the foot and not seeing any improvement, I continued to try to run and do the elliptical as well as walking plenty. I began to do research online and suspected I had plantar fasciitis, and started to do many of the “remedies” people discuss on the Internet. I tried rolling a frozen water bottle or ball under my foot, as well as some stretches. Unfortunately nothing seemed to improve the pain, and it got to the point where I could barely stand in the mornings and could no longer walk around barefoot at all. The pain switched between a constant soreness to more shooting pain (like stepping on a lego) when it was first thing in the morning or getting up after sitting for a while. On a pain scale of 1-10, I’d say my worst pain was about a 7 or 8 and was constantly above a 5. 

In January of 2018 I sought help at Gotham Footcare, who I had previously seen for a stress fracture in the same foot a year prior. After some initial X rays and a consult, they determined it was definitely Plantar Fasciitis and recommended biweekly physical therapy (ultrasound, shockwave therapy and whirlpool). I began seeing Dr Kim who also recommended a walking boot in order to ease the daily pain, as well as anti-inflammatories. I took an MRI to confirm the diagnosis, and it showed significant thickening of the plantar fascia and scar tissue. 

I began doing the physical therapy, along with stretching and using a night splint, for the next three months. While I did notice some mild improvement in the pain, I was still unable to walk normally without the walking boot and experiencing significant pain. Again, it was exacerbated by sitting for too long, walking or standing for longer periods of time. I was also unable to do hardly any cardio exercise. As my condition was not improving with traditional methods, Dr Kim started to explore the possibility of Tenex with me. 

Dr Kim explained that Tenex is a outpatient, minimally invasive procedure that can be done to help get rid of the scar tissue causing the plantar fasciitis and allow the plantar fascia to heal in a normal fashion. While not 100% effective, there was a good success rate for patients with severe cases, and I was ready to try any method that would get me back to walking relatively normally and with minimal pain. 

The procedure itself was very quick, lasting under an hour. They used local anesthetic (the needles are probably the worst part) and I could not feel anything more than slight pressure during the procedure. After the procedure they carefully wrapped my foot and I went home for the next few days to rest. I tried not to walk very much the first 2 days but was still able to do some light cooking and use the restroom. There was some pain but nothing worse than what I was already experiencing with the plantar fasciitis. 

Within 2 days I checked back in with Dr Kim and I began walking around more. I still had residual pain and swelling for the next 10 days or so but was able to return to work and resume most daily activities. It was important to wear the proper footwear right after recovery in order to keep the foot stable and not wear shoes that were too tight as there was some swelling. There was not instant relief of the plantar fasciitis, but it was improved. 

Within 3 weeks of the Tenex procedure most of the inflammation had gone down and I was able to walk fairly normally. There was still pain, but I did an extensive amount of stretching (3-4X a day at least) and at least a few hours of wearing the splint. I continued to take the anti-inflammatories and began to resume some cardio exercise. The surgical site had mostly healed up by this point and only left a very small scar on the side of my foot. 

Within 5 weeks of the procedure I actually had an extensive trip to Asia planned (complete with lots of walking), and my pain was reduced enough that I could walk 3-10 miles a day without the pain bothering me too much. The extensive walking actually seemed to help stretch and assist in the healing process. Standing for longer periods did seem to make the pain worse, but it was still significantly better than prior to the Tenex procedure (I’d say about 60-70% improved from the worst pain that I was experiencing around January). 

Three and four months out from getting Tenex and I’d say I am about 90-95% recovered. I still occasionally have pain when getting out of bed in the morning, but walking around/stretching resolves it and I’ve only gotten some heel and arch pain after standing for longer periods (2+ hours). I am able to run again, walk for long distances and just go about my daily life with hardly any soreness or pain. On a pain scale of 1-10 and I am most often a 1 or 0, with occasionally a bit of pain more like a 2 or 3 (this really only happens if I’ve been bad about stretching or not working out). 

Stretching and exercising keeps everything loose and really helps control the pain. I find if I haven’t stretched and my calf is tight it will exacerbate the pain. Continuing to do physical therapy at least once a week has been important as well, even if it starts to feel better the healing process continues beyond getting rid of the initial pain in order to make sure it doesn’t come back. I still try to wear the night splint a few times a week as well to give my foot a good stretch, and of course I am always wearing insoles in my shoes and I’m almost never walking barefoot. 

Dr Kim and everyone at Gotham Footcare have been incredible throughout the whole process. I never felt pressured to proceed with the Tenex procedure, and Dr Kim explored several ways to try to treat the plantar fasciitis with traditional methods. However, the improvement was so minor and long coming that I am so glad I went with the Tenex procedure. I am now able to have my life back with almost no pain- I can exercise, hike, commute and do all of my normal activities without a second thought. 

All of the staff is friendly and organized, and I couldn’t ask for a more supportive experience. 
 
 

Author
Julia Buchheim Patient of Gotham Footcare

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