A TENS machine does help interrupt the pain, but the simplest treatment I've found so far is ice packs. It dulls the pain nicely, and helps me get to sleep. But ice packs are ungainly things, and it's hard to keep them wrapped up (to protect your skin), and also sitting in the right place on your foot!
So I've invented these ice pack socks. Basically, I've added a pocket to the sole of a sock, and a mini ice pack (like the sort used for kiddie lunch boxes) can fit inside it. This holds the ice pack in position, and protects your skin from direct contact with the ice pack.
If you have pain on the top of your feet, just make the flap big enough to fit over the top of your foot, and sew it into the top position.
NB: these are not for walking in! You're likely to pop the ice pack, and get gel everywhere, eeeeeeew.
Here's how to make them:
Ice Pack Socks (knitted)
Choose a favourite simple knitted sock pattern. I made mine with 8 ply yarn, and the Sock of Doom pattern (Ravelry link), but you can choose whatever you like. 4 ply is fine. Remember, it's just for wearing in bed, so just needs to be comfortable, not fancy. A firm fitting sock is best.
Knit the sock (yeah, just like that!) I made mine ankle length, but you can do whatever you like best length-wise.
Once the sock is done, put it on, and see where the edges of the sole are. You're going to pick up stitches along the right side of the foot. For my sock, I picked up 34 sts ... it will depend on what weight yarn you've used. For a 4 ply sock, you will be picking up a lot more stitches than that.
Now, you're going to make a flap, which will become the pocket on the sole. You can just knit a rectangle, or you can do a few increases at the toe end of each row to make a shape that fits along to toe a bit more. It doesn't matter too much, as mini ice packs are generally rectangular.
Once you've got to the right width to fit across the sole, bind off, leaving a nice long tail. Bind off so that the tail will be at the 'heel end' of the flap.
Sew the flap onto the sole of the sock, so the left side, and the end (at the toe). If you have pain in both feet, make a second sock.
Here are my exact instructions for my pocket (8 ply sock, on 3.75 mm needles), with toe shaping, in case you want to do it exactly the same:
- Pick up 34 sts along right side of sole.
- Knit 1 row
- All wrong-side rows: K1, P to end of row
- Increase Row: Kfb (increase by 1), K to end
- Repeat Increase Row (on RS rows) until have 38 sts in total
- Knit 10 rows in stocking stitch
- Decrease Row: K2tog, K to end
- Repeat Decrease Row (on RS rows) until have 34 sts
- Bind off on RS row.
- Leave long tail.
- Sew flap to sole of foot, along left edge and toe.
You'll need a pair of bought socks, and a scrap of knit fabric, from an old t-shirt, for example. You'll also need a needle and thread, some cardboard, scissors and a pen.
Trace around your foot on the cardboard, and cut it out. Place this template inside the sock, against the sole of the sock.
Cut a piece of the scrap fabric that will cover the ice pack when stretched. Cut to fit the shape of the bottom of the sock. The open edge of the pocket should be straight, no need to curve it to fit the heel shape.
Now pin your pocket flap piece around the left, toe, and right edges of the sole. Sew in place. Leave the cardboard inside the sock, as a surface to rest the fabric against (and to stop you from sewing the top of the sock to the bottom). Ta dah! Now do the other one :)