What I’m doing differently for my second Camino-Footwear & Cortisone

Since our last Camino 2 years ago I’ve developed pretty bad arthritis in the basal joint of my right thumb. I also have a partial tear of the subscapularis tendon in my right shoulder as well as a mild SLAP tear at the bicep tendon attachment (all parts of what is known as the “rotator cuff”).  And let’s not forget that plantar fasciitis problem that is still present, just to a significantly lesser degree.

Footwear

On my first Camino I worehiking shoes. Big mistake. You are going to read a lot of articles and stories on the Internet on the merits of lightweight footwear. Most people with no foot problems will be just fine wearing hiking shoes or sandals. However, those of us with plantar fasciitis need support and cushioning from the pounding. I had always worn hiking boots for all my backcountry backpacking trips here in Alaska. But I fell for the nonsense being spewed by newbies who believe all the stories being told by elite thru hikers whose legs and feet are conditioned.

So, for this trip I’m wearing my . These are the type of lightweight backpacking boots that I have always worn. I’m doing so on the advice of my Podiatrist (who is an actual expert) and yes, my husband who is still saying “I told you so”. So there it is dear Billy. For all the world to read 🙂

Vasque St. Elias GTX Boot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orthotics and Compression Sleeves

Another major mistake that I made my Camino was not wearing my custom orthotics. I use custom orthotics that my podiatrist prescribed which are molded to my particular gait and pronation. They have a small padded area where my metatarsal bones sit. This is because I developed a Morton’s Neuroma in my right foot. This pad should help to keep those nerves stretched and reduce compression while I walk, and hopefully avoid irritating the neuroma.

The second item I’m packing is a pair of . I’ve been wearing these at home after work and they almost instantly take away the pain. I’ll be using them under my socks after walking to help my feet recover. I made sure to buy a size larger since I know my feet swell after a long day of hiking in the heat.

 

Cortisone Shots

As I write this post, my shoulder and wrist are in pain and my plantar fasciitis is definitely acting up at the end of the workday. So I have made the decision, with the advice of my orthopedic surgeon and my podiatrist, to get a series of Cortisone shots. I’ve had them before and they last about 3 months.

1) 2 1/2 weeks before I leave for Spain, I will have an anterior subacromial Cortisone shot (front part of my shoulder).

2) A few days after the shoulder injection, I will go for a Cortisone shot in my right wrist at the basal joint.

3) 1 week before leaving (2 weeks before actual walking starts) I will have Cortisone shots in both feet for the plantar fasciitis. I will also get a shot in my right foot for the neuroma. These particular shots are prophylactic and will help keep the fascia from becoming inflamed.

Do Cortisone shots hurt?

For me, the shoulder shot doesn’t really hurt. Just a mild sting when the lidocaine shot is injected (to numb the area) and then some discomfort when the Cortisone is being injected, like a pressure building. There is also what is known as Cortisone flare pain. As soon as the lidocaine wears off after an hour or so, you will likely feel a bad ache that lasts all afternoon and possibly into the next day. It’s normal.

My first wrist shot didn’t hurt. My second shot hurt a lot and more. More lidocaine was needed because the nerve in the area is pretty sensitive. However, the procedure is quick and the pain is stops as soon the Cortisone is injected.

The shots for the plantar fasciitis is a whole different story. My podiatrist uses Biofreeze to numb the side of the heel where she inserts the needle. That is actually the worst part for me and my overly sensitive feet. That insanely cold feeling is painful 🙂 The shots themselves aren’t bad. Yes, it hurts a bit as the Cortisone is injected, but again, as soon as the needle is removed the pain stops. A couple of minutes of moderate discomfort for months worth of pain relief.

You will probably hear or maybe you think that Cortisone shots are bad for you. They can be detrimental to muscle if used too frequently. Consult your specialist but all of mine believe that shots given twice a year (or in the case of my feet 2 years apart) are not harmful. The Mayo Clinic agrees as does every peer-reviewed journal article that I’ve come across in my research.

 

Daily distance walked

The final thing that I’m doing different on for the Camino de Invierno, is that I’ve set an itinerary that limits the number of kilometers I walk to less than 20 every day. There are a few exceptions, but those are 2 days in the middle and then the last 2 days when my feet should be more conditioned. This is different from the stages that I walked 2 years ago on the Primitivo Route where I was walking 20+ km every day for 2 weeks. I think this combination of more supportive footwear, Cortisone shots, and reduction in daily distance will make a big difference for my feet. My shoulder isn’t a problem as my pack is pretty light and the weight sits on my hips. I will let you all know how this works out. Stay tuned.

We leave April 13th and start walking on the 17th. So just about a month away now.

 

 

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3 Responses

  1. Catherine Halley says:

    Great to hear that you are working through challenges rather than giving up!

  2. I’ll be following your Invierno posts with interest, as I hope to follow in your footsteps departing Ponferrada on 16 May. I’m actually starting my Camino in Fromista where I left off last time.

    I’m thinking of having a cortisone shot in my knee for a torn meniscus, but they sound horrid! I’m resting my knee at the moment and it seems to be responding slowly. We’ll see how it goes.

    I was also sucked in by those recommending walking sandals and have purchased Keen Arroyos. I do worry about wet and muddy conditions though. I did get plantar issues a few years back, so maybe I should stick to my Ecco boots. Decisions, decisions!

    • Irene says:

      The shot isn’t that bad. It literally only takes a minute but the set up for us takes a bit longer. The pain relief is pretty instant and as an anti-inflammatory it will reduce inflammation. A few minutes of discomfort for months of no pain. But you’ll still have to be very careful not to worsen the tear.

      Speak with your orthopedic, but I’m sure they’ll tell you that you need stability on your feet in order to avoid misalignment and torque.

      Good luck to us both! Hope my posts will help you. Thanks!

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