I'm Shocked!! Plantar Fasciitis Cure.. My Experience with ESWT
|This write up won't be of much interest to some. It's not motorcycle related. . I wrote this for a couple of websites where people post information on medical procedures they've gone through so others will get a real perspective as to what it's like to go through it...Thought I'd share.. FYI.. I have had plantar fasciitis for over a year.. On Jan7th, 2012, I had a procedure done called ESWT (extracorporal shockwave therapy).. If any of my peers has plantar fasciitis and are considering getting treatment... read on.. If not... don't waste your time....|
|Hello, my name is Jerry and I have plantar fasciitis. For those lucky enough to not know what this is...plantar fasciitis is common in middle-aged and old codgers, such as myself or sometimes younger people who are on their feet a lot like athletes, hookers, or soldiers. It can happen in one foot or both feet. In a nutshell... the plantar fascia, ( the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes) gets weak, swollen, and irritated (inflamed). Tissue starts to tear. Your heel or the bottom of your foot hurts when you stand or walk. It feels like your heel is horribly bruised all the time. Not fun.
I've had this for over a year.. tried the usual treatments... stretching, shoe inserts both cheap and expensive...cursing...voodoo...blaming it on President Bush, etc, etc.. Nothing has worked. I had to give up virtually all my outdoor exercise .. ie.. hiking, walking and at my age (56)... NOT exercising is not an option. Anyway... after countless hours researching the condition, speaking to countless people who have had the problem, and at least a dozen calls to the psychic hotline, I came to the conclusion that If I wanted to rid myself of the condition I'd have to either A. have surgery (which has about a 60% success rate) or B. do a procedure called ESWT (extracorporal shockwave therapy) which has a 85% success rate.
Option A: The standard arthroscopic-type surgery is more invasive and requires you to wear a boot for a few weeks with a long recovery time. Most insurance covers this procedure. Basically they make two incisions on both sides of your heel.. go in with a small camera and a knife and clip some of the ligaments.. (kinda like a vasectomy except in the foot. ) If they do NOT get it right.. you're fucked. I read a few on-line reports of people who had this procedure and it screwed them up and made things worse. A medical roll of the dice at the least..
Option B: ESWT aka.. extracorporal shockwave therapy is non-invasive and if it doesn't work.. you can still look at other alternative methods. Basically the doctor uses the same shockwave machine they use to destroy kidney stones except they aim it at your heel. The shockwaves stimulate tissue growth in the damaged area causing the problem area (in theory) to heal itself after about 2 months. ESWT is as common in Europe as angry Muslims and covered by insurance over there. Unfortunately.. this ain't Europe.. yet. The procedure is still statistically rare here in the US (under 5% have the treatment) and is NOT covered by insurance. My fucking luck. The procedure runs around $1800 and takes about 1/2 hour. It 's usually done in your pediatrist's office rather than a hospital.
After some lengthy discussions with my podiatrist I scheduled the procedure. Fortuitously, the traveling ESWT machine was due in town the very next am so the timing was perfect. I pictured it like this.. I'd go in.. bring a book.. they'd numb me...I'd lay on the table and read for the 20 minute procedure.. then I'd walk out with a big smile on my face and a new lease on life. Unfortunately, reality was quite different. Now that it's over I'm here to share my experience of the procedure with others in hopes that you'll be better informed.
After the procedure.. I had to sit there for about 40 minutes for the feeling to come back to my foot enough to walk out to my SUV and then drive home. Again.. no offer of crutches. After the numbness wore off a few hours later.. I was walking pretty good without my stick.. Just felt a little sore. Sweet! I was under the impression (because this is what he told me) that that would be the extent of my pain. That turned out not to be true.
|Day 2: Got up to pee at around 3am and almost fell out of bed. I couldn't put any weight on my foot.. While my foot was NOT swollen, I couldn't walk without my hiking stick all day. No mention of this in the pre-procedure talk. (or anywhere that I saw on the www.) Why didn't they tell me that I might need crutches for 24 hours?...and/or offered a loaner pair?
Day 3: I'm walking almost as good as Stumpy in Rio Bravo. The heel is still sensitive, but I purposely favor it all day. I'm NOT using my walking stick today. Very little pain.
Day 4: I'm walking almost good as new today with very little pain and just a sinsitive heel. Not bad for a procedure that may (fingers crossed) give me my life back...
1 Week: Walking with only a slight limp. Heel is still sensitive. Seems to get a little better every day.
2 Weeks: Heel is still sensitive. Very little pain, but some. Foot feels tired at end of day. A little better every day.
3 Weeks: Heel is still sensitive. Very little pain, but some. Foot feels tired at end of day. A little better every day.
4 Weeks: This has been the slowest recovery time of anything I've ever done, and my recuperative powers are second only to Wolverine. With that said.. Every day is slightly better. No pain in the am.. sore at night from walking
12 Weeks: I'd guestamate I'm about 50% there... Painless in the am.. always sore at bedtime and this is with light work, no heavy lifting.
6 Months: Months have now passed and yes.. I'm better than I was prior to the treatment. I'd say I'm about 65% better. I still have some pain if I've been sitting a while although it's a different kinda pain than a year ago. Was the treatment worth the money? Yes and No. Ask me in 6 months. ... I think it's over-priced.. but what price do you put on chronic pain alleviation? I am better.. and that's what they promised..
1 Year: I now can honestly say it was well worth the money. I'd say my foot is at about 90-95%.. It's a little sore sometimes after sitting through a movie or walking or hiking a lot, but otherwise.. 90-95% of the time it feels good as new with no pain. When I get up in the am.. I'm not limping any more. Mostly pain-free.
1.5 Years: 100% Pain free! Woohoo!! Top o' the world, ma!
I learned a lot about this procedure by going through it...Very little from my pediatrist. Perhaps other doctors/pediatrists are more thorough in their pre-procedure talk. Would I do it again now that I know it's somewhat painful? Considering the 4 day recovery time.. yes.. Just wish my insurance covered at least some of the cost.
Advice for those going through ESWT (extracorporal shockwave therapy) :
Postscript 11/2016: I spoke with a young lady a few days ago who (after reading my review) had the procedure.. Hers was a little different... She said her doctor actually put her under while doing the procedure... She didn't have to deal with the discomfort that I did.. I don't know if this is something new or if her doctor was a one-off. If I had had a choice, I'd have asked to be knocked out.. The only down side is that I'm sure it would DOUBLE the cost of the procedure and again... if insurance doesn't cover it.. that might be a financial deal breaker for some.
||And that's all I've got to say about that....
Jerry D. Finley
Captain / Pirates' Lair