Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Foot Pain Explained

Said the doc with his fancy diploma
Your foot pain is from a neuroma
A cortisone shot
Might help or might not
Well, it surely beats having lymphoma!

I’ve battled pain in my left foot on and off for years, especially since taking up long distance walking and now running. I’ve tried wide toe-box shoes and in-sole off the shelf orthotics, and those have helped quite a bit. In fact, I doubt I would have been able to complete my first marathon, or subsequent ones, without these.

I’ve used the “miracle drug” of ice, lots of ice, more times than I want to remember. Nothing like sticking your foot in a bucket of ice with just enough water to allow it to flow around your foot! Now that is true pain!

It has all helped, to a large degree. I would still get the pain when hiking long distances, say more than about 3 hours, especially if my left foot would slide sideways into a rock on a downhill trail. Then it would feel like a really severe electric shock. It would normally take a couple of days after hiking for the pain to fully go away. But generally, doing all the things I was doing during marathon training kept the pain at bay or under control – until this year.

Since around mid to late March, nothing I would do made the pain go away, other than resting a few days. I would go out and run / walk, and after 5 miles or so, every step with my left foot would just hurt. Ice? Man, did I ice that foot! Ibupropin at times. Cutting back miles at times. Nothing would work. For some reason, the day of the half marathon in Nashville was my first long mileage day in a couple of months without a lot of pain, and I was very grateful for that.

Since then, I have taken it very easy. I’ve done a few short hikes, mostly on level ground and none longer than about five miles. I’ve run a few times, walked a little more often than that, again none of these longer than about five miles. I slept in plenty, getting up at 6 or even 6:15 after months of 4:30 or 5:00. I took two entire weeks off for a family visit, other than a few very short walks and a short hike or two. In short, between laziness and deliberately trying to rest my foot, I was hoping to have whatever was wrong with it heal. But every time I would press on the left metatarsal area, I would get the electric shock feeling, so I knew something was still wrong.

So I went to a podiatrist yesterday, and as you can tell from my opening limerick, a neuroma was the verdict. He discussed a bunch of options, and we decided to start with a cortisone shot to the affected area. He definitely found the right nerve in my foot with that long needle, I can tell you that! It is still painful from the shot about 30 hours later, but I am hoping to try out a hike in the mountains this weekend if the pain subsides by then. Depending on how that goes, I will try some road running and walking later next week.

A friend said maybe it was time to give up hiking and long distance training, switch to a bike. No way! Although supplementing my normal routine with a bike makes sense, especially if a triathlon is in my future next year. But I think that over time, the neuroma will heal. I am optimistic about it.


Cheryl said...

Hi Art

Optimism is good....great way to heal....
I do hope that you are able to get some relief and continue your fantastic runs....

Have you thought of acupuncture?? I cannot say that it will help your condition but I have heard some very good reports on this form of treatment.

Sending you positive thoughts.....

Anonymous said...

You are so awesome! And right! I will go with my gut feelings. I am so addicted to running that I most likely am going to run this marathon. You know the saying, "I'm going to do it even if it kills me." Well, that's me!
I love the line "an immature squirrel on drugs". That sounds like being a mother on some days. lol! Thanks, Art!

Racn4acure said...

Thanks Cheryl. The doc said that this has been forming for probably a long time, so we shall see. as a last resort, there is surgery, which essentially removes the nerve along with its neuroma. I guess accupuncture could be considered too, although right now, the idea of having more needles stuck into my foot is not all that appealing. It is still pretty sore and the weekend's hike is in doubt! :(

Racn4acure said...

Hi Holly! Oh, don't let it kill you, that's not the idea! One danger of marathons is you start feeling really bad and assume "well, its a marathon, I should feel this fill in the blank (pain, exhaustion, sickness, misery)". you have to be really aware of your body and what is normal despite having that brain of an immature squirrel on drugs. In my last race, just a half marathon but in a log of heat, my brain turned to mush. I tried to do math to calculate my time at the end and was off by 6 minutes!

Ann Marie said...

At least you are trying multiple ways to try and put a band aid on the pain, if not cure it. I hear you though... no way are we ready to give up running yet! While I wrote a $650 check for my custom orthotics the doctor told me I may not be a runner forever... I looked at him and said - we'll see about that!

Happy 4th Art! Thanks for all your support lately = )

Racn4acure said...

Thanks Ann Marie. I'm with you! When my time comes, I hope I am buried with a hiking boot on one foot, a running shoe on the other, my hiking stick in my hand, my TNT hat covered with event pins on my head, and a smile on my face! :)

Happy 4th to you as well! Sounds like you have a lot going on.

Leslie said...

Ouch! Hope the cortisone helps!