Monday, April 23, 2012

These Little Piggies

This little piggy bends sideways,
this little piggy hides its head.
This little piggy feels swollen,
this little piggy won't tread.
And this little piggy says,
"Why the heck can't you other
little piggies get your act together?!"

Nothing has driven me more crazy post-stroke than the effect of spasticity on my toes. The tightness through the muscles on the bottom of my foot causes the toes to curl under. Engaging the muscles to walk exacerbates the problem – at its worst causing me to walk on my piggies' knuckles. It hurts.

I asked my medical team for help. My ex-physical therapist gave me a blank stare, which made me think I was the only stroke patient who ever had this symptom. My ex-physical medicine doctor referred me to a podiatrist who said she’d cut the tendons under my toes in a few years if they were still troubling me.

I researched online and discovered other stroke survivors have the same problem, but no solution. I purchased every toe gizmo I could get my feet on: toe stretchers, toe protectors, toe spacers and toe cushions. (The linked products were helpful.)

The FDA has not approved Botox for the treatment of lower limb spasticity, but my new physical medicine doctor has been progressive enough to try it in my foot and to trust my perception that it helps.

With time and treatment my muscles continue to relax, allowing my tendons to release with a satisfying "Pop!” I’ve had several popping sensations recently in the arch of my foot. Now my toes want relief. They're greedy that way. Oink.