Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has revealed he is resigned to playing in pain for most of his career having been diagnosed with an incurable foot injury.
Henderson has a chronic heel condition, known as Plantar Fasciitis, that has deteriorated last April and has baffled specialists across the world.
Despite consultations with renowned surgeons, and even taking advice from the Royal Ballet about how to deal with a problem that afflicts dancers as well as sportsmen, Henderson has accepted he will have to manage pain rather than rid himself of it. The Reds captain’s issues with his left heel were exacerbated when he broke a metatarsal on his right foot earlier in the season, injuries from which he made his comeback last weekend.
“It was unbearable every time I planted my foot it was like a burning, stabbing, nerve pain,” Henderson told the Daily Telegraph.
“Even lying in bed there was pain in my foot. It is much better now but there is always that question is it going to come back?
“At times you do get down, especially with this type of injury. With my metatarsal I knew exactly what kind of time scale I’d be out for. You can really focus on each step and what you need to do.
“But with my heel there isn’t a time scale, there isn’t really a cure. I’ve been pretty down about it because we couldn’t find the answers. Now I’m at a point where I can function – where I can train and start playing some part in games. Hopefully I can continue like that and it will continue to get better.
“I worried about it quite a lot. I’d go online trying to find different things that maybe someone hadn’t seen. It’s not that rare, a lot of people do get it. It’s just a matter of time before it gets back to normal.”
Former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher and ex-Everton midfielder Tim Cahill are among those who’ve suffered with the condition previously.
“I spoke to Carra briefly and we also spoke to quite a few experts and doctors all over the world to try and nip it in the bud,” said Henderson. “A lot of people say keep doing cortisone injections and eventually it will probably just rupture. That might be the relief that is needed.
“People have had a rupture before and been out for a few months, others have been out a week or two and then they are back. That is the problem with it, you don’t really know what you are going to get with it but I just have to keep going and see what happens.
“It’s hard not to be conscious of it. I don’t want it to come back to the pain that it was before. I just need to forget about that and concentrate on playing football.”
It’s been a tumultuous period in Henderson’s absence, most notably with a change of manager and the skipper desperate to impress new manager Jurgen Klopp.
“You feel helpless when things aren’t going well and you want to be in the team to try and turn things round and make things right and help the team improve,” said the 25-yer-old.
“Then, on the other hand, when the team is doing very well you want to be part of it, want to be playing.
“It was important for me to go to the games and be involved and support the lads. There are times in dressing rooms and in meetings that you want to go out and you want to play and it is hard when you are in your suit or your tracksuit and you are not getting stripped or taking part. I felt I needed to do that not only for me but for the team and I am glad I did that.
“It has made me realise what I have got. I haven’t been nice to be around for the last three months. My family and the staff have been brilliant. They understand that I am not used to it, especially with the type of injury it is. I haven’t been myself. You definitely appreciate things a lot more and it shows how much you want to get back.”
Henderson is well aware comments made in Sir Alex Ferguson’s book that his running style would cause injury problems will be seen as prophetic.
In fact, it is believed a change in boots was the catalyst for the issue last season allied to a work overload which has prevented the 25-year-old having a summer break for 14 years.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with my gait, it might have, but I very much doubt it,” said Henderson.