Friday, July 26, 2013
Then and Now: My battle with Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
It seems like only yesterday I was in tears over having to cancel our trip to Chicago for New Years Eve because I couldn't walk to the door without searing pain much less around the world's most walkable city.
Most of you probably assume I've been all healed up and am back to normal, after all, it has been just over 7 months since I was diagnosed. I discussed my diagnosis and treatments here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. (I know that looks insane to link back to all of the posts but I want people who may have found the site looking for hope with their own Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome issues to be able to see how I progressed.)
I am not back to my pre-diagnosis abilities but I'm pretty close. There are things I have come to terms with that *may* always be a part of my reality like stiff ankles in the morning, achy but not painful muscles after long walks of 3-4+ hours, physical therapy exercises after workouts because when I skip them for a few days, I can tell a difference and not in a good way.
Here are the improvements I've made since my December diagnosis:
Then: I thought a podiatrist was the only person who could help me with this.
Now: After a stroke of luck, I found a chiropractor who had successfully treated this condition numerous times. He specialized in sports medicine so he treated marathoners and runners. I feel like finding a chiropractor that lists this and has an intricate education in leg muscles and potential issues with them was key. This was my first time at a chiro and I am so grateful for him. My podiatrist was actually making my condition worse, never even examined my foot and gave me no real direction. My chiro did a thorough exam concluding I had not only TTS and Achilles tendonitis but also had a weak muscle structure in the front of my legs that was causing my feet to overcompensate. He treated each condition and it was his mission to get me better not keep me as a patient and certainly not to do surgery.
Then: Sometimes just standing up would cause me to wince in pain and walking was not possible past 20 minutes.
Now: I can walk for a minimum of 5 hours without getting leg fatigue. Anything over 6 hours, I need to make sure I stretch really well afterward or I'll pay for it the next day. This is a miracle in itself and anyone who has dealt with this knows it.
Then: Nerve pain and twitching so bad that sleep was not possible the first week.
Now: I have been cured of the nerve pain/twitching and that between the home ultrasound machine I used initially and then the laser therapy the chiropractor did on me to break down scar tissue.
Then: A painful "catching" of the tendon between my tarsal tunnel and the bone spur that was so bad it could knock me off my feet. Also a nice case of Achilles tendonitis. Bonus! (Dripping with sarcasm)
Now: Thanks to the breaking up of scar tissue around the bone spur in the back of my ankle, stretches and physical therapy exercises this is no longer an issue. Every morning while I brush my teeth, I stretch out both legs with a 30 second calf stretch, a 30 second Achilles stretch then switch and repeat on the other leg. I end every workout with a session on my balance board, calf, quad and ankle stretches. None of these are optional.
Then: The pain was so bad I could not even rest my feet on the floor as a passenger in a car or lay my feet on the mattress to sleep.
Now: The ultrasound and laser therapy (class 4 laser) helped with all nerve pain making sleep and being chauffeured possible.
Then: I had to alter my exercise routine to go from doing plyo, high impact and pretty much anything I wanted to having to be seated and do NO weight bearing exercise.
Now: I am able to do moderate impact exercise with a few high impact moves like fighter kicks or anything where the impact is front to back on my feet. Exercises where the impact is side to side like jumping jacks can sometimes make me very sore the next day. This is getting less frequent and is seeming to improve.
Then: I had no hope that I would ever be normal again.
Now: I know that as long as I continue with physical therapy exercises and stretching, I should be able to control this condition and live a normal life.
To those of you who may be searching for some kind of information regarding this condition it is important to note that I am NOT a doctor and none of what I have done should be construed as medical advice for your personal situation! I am simply relaying my experience with this condition so that you can get what I didn't when I was diagnosed...hope. Consult a physician for your personal diagnosis and recommended treatment. As long as you have not ignored the pain for an extended period of time, there can be hope to *potentially* be treated non-surgically. As long as you continue physical therapy exercises daily, you may never have to deal with it again. My case appears to have been minor in the grand scheme of horror stories I've read but any pain from this condition doesn't feel minor when you're going through it.
Trust your gut. If the doctor who diagnosed you doesn't seem to have your best interest at heart, go elsewhere. This applies to any health problem. Be your own advocate!
Don't be afraid to try alternative medicine like a chiropractor or even acupuncture and deep tissue massage. I owe my chiro my life. My depression was all encompassing and suffocating until I found Dr. B and he told me that he would treat me and everything would be okay. I can't say that my experience will be yours but anything is worth a try for better health.
Mentally push through the inevitable bouts of frustration on how long recovery takes/is taking. We live in an instant gratification society and this injury will not properly heal if you push yourself when your body isn't ready. The best advice my chiro gave me after he cleared me for exercise was to "let pain be my guide." If it hurt, I stopped and/or modified.
Keep a journal! From beginning to end, it's important to see the little strides. I used to not be able to stand long enough to make my lunch or photograph a recipe. 20 minutes was my limit. It's easy to take for granted being able to stand as long as I want now and you will appreciate the strides made, no matter how small they may seem to others.
Hang in there and try to stay off the internet horror story sites. All this did was frankly, scare the shit out of me! For every horror story, there are others who were treated, recovered and never bothered to go back to those forums to say "hey everybody, I'm cured and this is what worked for me!" For as informational as the internet can be, it can also be a source of great anxiety, fear and hopelessness which is the whole reason I have shared my personal experience with you.
Happy Friday everyone!
This post contains a few affiliate links to items I've used to aid my recovery. I will get a minor commission should you choose to purchase through them.
*Again, I am not a doctor and all information in my blog posts regarding Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome should not be construed as medical advice, only my personal experience as stated in the disclaimer tab. Consult a proper physician for your particular situation!*
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