Help! My feet hurt after 20 years of problems, corticosteroid shots, and foot surgeries.

I have had problems with my feet for nearly 20 years. I have very high arches and hyper-mobile ankles.

Between 1996-1999 I had surgery 5 times to have Morton's neuroma's removed (each surgery removed a neuroma from between a different metatarsal with the exception of one surgery which was due to the re-growth of a neuroma).

The pain from the neuroma's resolved after the surgeries. Following the first surgery, I started wearing orthotics and wear them daily along with proper fitting, soft soled shoes.

I injured my ankle four years ago with a third degree sprain on the outside and and a first degree sprain on the inside. After 6 weeks non weight bearing the injury was still not healed completely so I had surgery to reattach the ligament. Since then I have had pain in both feet. At first, somewhat intermittent pain, and for the past two years almost daily. I had my orthotics re-made twice in the past two years. The podiatrist diagnosed plantar faciitis and heel spurs. He has injected both feet four times. I do get relief but it is temporary. I understand that continuing with injections could lead to problems.

Due to the level and frequency of the pain, the doctor has suggested a dorsi-flectory wedge osteotomy and plantar fascia lengthening. It sounds like a pretty big surgery, and I wonder if you have any experience with other patients who have been through the same? Are they better or worse?

Any suggestions for success?


Joshua Answers:

Hello there.

1. You may already know/have tried this....At a shoe shop or podiatrist that knows what's up, there's a tear drop shaped pad that you put in your shoe under the ball of your foot, and, in the words of my Kerri who used to have bad problems with Morton's neuroma pain, "It totally went away."

It's a simple, cheap fix. Maybe it wouldn't have worked, but if your doctors never tried that pad/insert which changes how weight gets transferred in the bones of your feet, shame on them. Shame on them ethically and morally, though there's really nothing to do about it legally.

2. The more irritation that keeps happening in the joint, tumors/neuromas will eventually form, which is what you had removed. Sometimes there are simple ways to shift the foot and avoid more irritation.

It's likely you still have the process that led to that, since surgeries don't fix problems, they just deal with symptoms.

So there's that ongoing pain dynamic.

3. I don't have direct experience with anybody with that surgery.

4. The bone spurs may or may not be sources of pain.

5. Corticosteroid Injections can come with some downsides, but biggest being that they don't fix anything or help it get better.

6. As far as the surgery....I'm not a big fan of surgeries. Perhaps your doctors would have a sensible argument for how the surgery is going to FIX the problem I'd give it a thumbs up.

But at this point, I'm on the side of trying to help you find a way to avoid surgery.

Your feet are unhappy, with a huge Process of Inflammation. Chopping into them again is unlikely to change their mood for the better.

6. If you injured or stretched your ligaments, and that never got resolved, then it's still a negative variable at play. You had a ligament reattached, and that injury is still likely sending pain signal to the system.

Lengthening the plantar fascia means you will have LESS support for the bones of the foot.

7. You may naturally have 'loose' feet structurally. I don't see how any kind of surgery is going to help that.

It's safe to say that your feet are pretty jacked up. Having said that, there's always something one can do to lower pain levels.

First things first.

Ice Dip intensively for a week as described on the How To Reduce Inflammation page, but with more than 10 dips/day.

I could tell you to do a bunch of other stuff, but if you invest in dipping for a week, the results of that will be a big clue to help us move on to the next step.

Do that, pay attention, and let me know what happens with that.

And as always, more questions, more answers.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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