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My Feet Are Trying to Tell Me Something

By Lianna

All my life I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my feet. My feet grew very quickly and at age eight I was sporting a size 9AAA shoe. With my outsized feet, I envied all my friends and their tiny, perfect feet and shoes.

In those days, children’s shoes only went up to size 6. My trips to buy new shoes involved bypassing the children’s department in favour of the ladies’ department. One year, my best find was oversized penny loafers. The shiny new penny on each shoe helped compensate for the size of my shoes.

To add to my social concerns about my feet, I had inherited a predisposition to bunions. My grandmother had several bunion operations that didn’t work and my mother has such severe bunions that her second toe now crosses over her big toe.

As my body size caught up with the size of my feet it became easier to find fashionable shoes. But none of those shoes ever fit me properly. I had learned to squeeze my size 9 feet into a size 8.5 and even the occasional 8. By my late forties I had a long history of wearing improperly fitted shoes.

All this abuse eventually caught up with me and my feet. One day at work, on one of those days when I hardly left my desk, my foot luck ran out. As I stood up I felt a severe stabbing pain on the heel of my right foot, extending to the outer side of the foot. I could barely walk and limped all the way from my office to my car.

What was this all about?  How could my feet be fine one day and then be in excruciating pain the next? I didn’t recall banging my foot. There was no evidence of a bruise and it didn’t feel swollen. I went home and decided to wait it out. Surely it would go away as fast as it had come.

Two days later, I was still in pain. Luckily I was able to make an appointment at my hospital’s foot care centre. Five minutes after arriving I had a diagnosis: plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue, across the bottom of your foot, that connects the heel bone to the toes. This becomes inflamed, causing a stabbing pain. It’s one of the most common causes of heel pain.

Plantar fasciitis is very common in runners.  Pregnant women, overweight people and those who wear shoes with inadequate support are also at high risk of plantar fasciitis. I fell into the latter category. The likely cause was my shoes. They didn’t have enough cushioning or support.

Treatment includes rest, proper footwear, heel pads, orthotics, painkillers and exercises. Severe cases may be treated with steroid injections. My foot care specialist prescribed ice, some stretching exercises and new shoes. I loved the idea of new shoes, but was quickly informed that new shoes meant a trip to the ‘sensible shoes’ section of the shoe store.

I’ve mostly stopped wearing high-heeled shoes, wear running shoes on the weekends and have invested in a pair of work shoes with enhanced support. But don’t tell my foot specialist if you spot me one night in my high-heeled dancing shoes.

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