Foot damage?

9:21 p.m. on December 22, 2011 (EST)
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Anyone ever get permanent foot damage after a hike? I am a pretty new hiker - just started about a year ago. My favorite hiking companion took me on a hard-core (to me), five day hike into the Olympic National Forest this summer. We hiked maybe 70 miles over the five days. My boots were good, but perhaps not good enough. I had the usual couple of days of recovery following the trip. At first, I could hardly walk at all, but eventually my feet loosened up to the point I could, well, at least step on them. The thing is, they feel like they never recovered. Both feet are still stiff when I first stand up, and I have to walk a bit before they loosen up. Additionally, I have quite a bit of tingling in both feet. It's worse when I walk on them, but I can feel it even when sitting. My doc thinks it's a secondary problem, but I'm pretty sure it's continued pain caused by the hike. It's been about 3 months since the hike. I'm worried my feet won't recover. I'm also wondering what I could have done differently to have prevented this. Any thoughts?

2:16 a.m. on December 23, 2011 (EST)
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Did the doc mention plantar fasciitis?  It is an inflammation of the tendon sheath along the bottom of your foot.  I usually hurts like heck in the morning when you first get up, but seems to feel much better after you walk or move around.  And then later in the day after sitting at your desk, when you get up you are almost a crippled again and it will usually get better after moving around. Lots on the net about it.

http://health.yahoo.net/channel/plantar-fasciitis.html

Also lots of various cures.  I had it for a year.  I now have very little problem with it so long as I use proper foot wear and arch support.

7:20 a.m. on December 23, 2011 (EST)
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Plantar fasciitis pain is searing, much worse than you describe.

The tingling may be unrelated to the hike. I would suggest that you ask your doctor to refer you to a podiatrist immediately. Also, it wouldn't hurt to have your glucose levels checked.

I have never heard that foot recovery from a hike is normal and necessary. With proper footwear, the feet should be fine -- however, every other part of your being may ache :)

8:57 a.m. on December 23, 2011 (EST)
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I agree it does kinda sound similar to plantar fasciitis. The pain doesn't have to be 'searing' either. It can vary person to person based on the severity they have. Plantar fasciitis can be on set by strenuous physical activity. Symptoms develop gradually and do not start as a stabing pain, it develops over time and further progresses into being more and more painful. Definitely talk to your doctor about it.

It is very common in runners and people who are overweight.

Some things that can cause or are related to the onset of Plantar Fasciitis: -Repetitive stretching of the plantar fascia -overuse in atheletes -very tight calf muscles -oversupination of the foot -poor fitting or supporting footwear -high foot arch or flat foot/arch collapse -pregnancy

9:24 a.m. on December 23, 2011 (EST)
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Happy- I would love to go to Olympic NF some day, that's cool.

Just based on your description, it sounds to me like you over exerted your body and hurt / strained your feet. The lingering tingling could be nerve damage as I have had that before, the pain /discomfort could be plantar faciitis. As overmywaders points out tingling is also a symptom of Diabetes which can be triggered by various life events.

You describe your boots as "good, but perhaps not good enough". Which boots do you have?

Good boots means different things to different people; do they look like they are made good? Does the salesman say they are good?. Is it a good brand?

Looks, brand, advertising, etc. have little to do with whether or not a particular boot is good for you. It is all about fit, support, and reliable construction. Many brands have a reputation for that, but you can't just pick a reputable brand in your size and necessarily have a boot that is good for you. The brand of boot that fits you very well may not be a good fit for me or others, this is because boot shape varies from one boot maker to the next. You need to try on boots until you find the proper fit for you.

Few people I know accomplish excellent fit in one year, it is best done with a knowledgeable person fitting boots for you, but for many people this is a process and a system, including a very good fitting boot, a quality footbed (insole) probably not the one that came with the boots, the right sock combination, proper lacing, and careful / gradual strengthening of the foot over time.

Good boots should fit extremely well, they should be comfortable even after hiking all day in various types of terrain. Your toes or balls of your feet should not hurt, your arch should not hurt, you should not have blisters, (although blister prevention requires the right socks & lacing, etc.) tingling should not be a normal part of the experience.

On average you hiked 14 miles per day for 5 days on your trip in Olympic NF, that's quite a bit even for some experienced hikers, so over exertion may be a large part of the problem initially. Assuming you were carrying a backpack (added weight), and going by your assessment that the hike was "hard core" for you, and that you have only been hiking for a year, it is more than possible that you may not have the optimum fit or support in your foot wear yet, and that you just need more conditioning before hiking these distances day after day.

I am not a doctor, so I can not advise you medically going forward other than agreeing you see a podiatrist as noted in the post above.

To prevent this from occurring again (assuming it was the boots), I would suggest seeing a knowledgeable boot fitter, reading up on boots & proper fit, trying some aftermarket footbeds. In terms of conditioning, not biting off more hike than you feel good about ( been there done that!) and slowly building up to multi day hikes.

14 miles a day for 5 days will cause even the slightest boot or foot problem to be magnified many times over and can take time to recover from in my experience, but I have been doing it long enough now that I have learned how to prevent this from occurring and that is one of the key ingredients to happy hiking.

Mike G.

9:40 a.m. on December 23, 2011 (EST)
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Happy - your friend is pure sadist.  Sucks about the feet; sounds like an epic trip otherwise.

10:07 a.m. on December 23, 2011 (EST)
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Happy, 

I'm not a doctor either but tingling is typically associated with nerve damage and/or arthritis. I exercise religiously and from time to time  I experience tingling in my right arm (presumably from lifting weights); my doctor prescribed an anti-inflammatory (a generic version of Mobic) and it does alleviate the problem within a few days.

And I will say that yes I believe I do have permanent foot damage that is related to my athletic activities but I backpack and run so much it’s hard to say exactly what caused it; I now have no feeling in the top portion of one toe on my left foot (next to smallest toe). At this point it only bothers me when I touch it and realize I can’t feel anything otherwise I don’t think about it.

And it also sounds as if you have established a clear cause and effect in this case. Please keep us posted; I would like to know the rest of the story as it unfolds…

Patrick

5:18 p.m. on December 23, 2011 (EST)
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.ghost. said:

Happy - your friend is pure sadist.  Sucks about the feet; sounds like an epic trip otherwise.

 Point of claification:

Sadist inflict suffering on others.

Masochists like suffering.

Ed

10:18 a.m. on December 24, 2011 (EST)
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Ed,

So backpackers are self-involved sadomasochists. But we shouldn't beat ourselves up about it. :)

10:45 a.m. on December 24, 2011 (EST)
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love your handle

5:57 p.m. on December 24, 2011 (EST)
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Happy, do you or have you had any back problems? 

These can also lead to "tingling" in your feet or other parts of your lower extremities.  I have had problems with a Syatic(?) nerve in my back and it caused my right leg, everything below the knee, to have nerve damage, good thing is it slowly grows back, bad thing is it it is very slow growing.  Now it's mostly my foot and toes. 

Wolfman

7:34 p.m. on December 24, 2011 (EST)
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BillS recommended this book to me after a bad blister episode:


feet.jpg

Feet have to be conditioned too and if your feet are not in shape for such a hike/pack trip it is no wonder you are having issues. I strongly recommend this book.

I damaged some nerves in my foot on a hike last spring and it still has not regained all the feeling. My boots were great boots, just not for me....I switched boots since and am happy to have gotten the aforementioned book to help me train and protect my feet!

11:31 a.m. on December 25, 2011 (EST)
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i think you should find an orthopedic specialist and ask about this.  significant injuries sometimes require more than you can do yourself, meaning anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, among other things  i have had a number of leg and foot injuries over the years, and i guarantee (with all due respect to the generous knowledge here) that no one here, reading these symptoms, can adequately address your concerns.  

examples - tingling/sore/stiff feet can be a symptom of many things , including stress fractures, nerve impingement (which usually starts in your back, not your feet), tendinitis - all of which should be evaluated by a doctor.    

11:56 a.m. on December 25, 2011 (EST)
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leadbelly2550 said:

i think you should find an orthopedic specialist and ask about this.  significant injuries sometimes require more than you can do yourself, meaning anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, among other things  i have had a number of leg and foot injuries over the years, and i guarantee (with all due respect to the generous knowledge here) that no one here, reading these symptoms, can adequately address your concerns.  

examples - tingling/sore/stiff feet can be a symptom of many things , including stress fractures, nerve impingement (which usually starts in your back, not your feet), tendinitis - all of which should be evaluated by a doctor.    

 Absolutely correct, even Doctors don't diagnose through web forums, an exam is needed. This is what my own doctor has told me.

9:56 a.m. on December 26, 2011 (EST)
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Just to echo other comments - I would bug your doctor to rule out any unlikely, but potentially serious, other reasons for this continued tingling.  That being said, I have heard similar complaints from other hikers, and suffered a similar condition myself.  For perhaps 6 months after any hike over 600 miles or so, I experience numbness, tingling, and stiffness in my feet. Personally, I've always considered this minor nerve damage from the relentless pounding.  

 

9:58 a.m. on March 25, 2012 (EDT)
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I completed the Milford Sound track in February.  Last day i got intense burning in my toes.  Ever since they have been numb.  Hopefully it'll wear off in time.

9:38 a.m. on March 27, 2012 (EDT)
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An old friend reported something similar, when we were discussing hiking, athletic endeavors, etc.

He went to several specialists.   Ultimately, he learned one leg was very slightly longer than the other (!).   

It had probably been that way for years, but manifested in numerous aches and pains, while on a long hike.   Although; he had noticed unexplained back pain for some time, previous to the hike.

Entire spine, skeletal-system, nerves, etc., were affected.

Now receiving physical therapy and (I think?) chiropractic remedy.

                           ~ r2 ~

10:37 a.m. on March 27, 2012 (EDT)
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trailingon said:

I completed the Milford Sound track in February.  Last day i got intense burning in my toes.  Ever since they have been numb.  Hopefully it'll wear off in time.

That probably IS sciatic nerve related -- my right foot and the toes on my left foot have been partly numb ever since I had a partial discectomy in 1998. But that's much better than the searing pain (=sciatica) I had in my legs for about three months before the operation. The numbness goes up and down, I keep it at bay by doing regular back/abdomen strengthening and stretching exercises. I also get false feelings (feels like my socks are bunched up, only they aren't) and sometimes pain in my feet. If it doesn't go away you might see a PT for some exercises, could prevent it from getting worse and putting you where I was/am.

BTW, I was hutkeeper at Mintaro for two summers in the late 70s...

7:28 p.m. on March 27, 2012 (EDT)
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Get thee to a doctor!  I didn't know what I had going on either.  Taped for plantar issues, fiddled around with super feet, and I found out that my great toes were going numb from hallux limitus -- the joint above the great toe no longer bends right.

That alone triggered some other issues with my feet. I can only do 10 miles on a big day now. It's not from a lack of leg -- my feet can only do so much :(

Go get checked out.  Sciatica, nerve damage, ganglion cyst...who knows?! Let the doc help you get a solution, so you can get "out there"!

3:44 p.m. on April 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Thank you so much for all the thoughtful replies. Still no definite word on what the problem is, but it has yet to go away. I have an appointment with a new foot guy in a couple of weeks, and will report back if I get something definitive.

In the meantime, thanks for the book recommendation, giftogab. It never occurred to me that feet were something that needed to be conditioned, but it makes perfect sense. I'd like to start doing something now, since the snow is finally starting to melt off my favorite trails!

November 26, 2014
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