Warning: long-ish; skip to TL;DR for summary.
For the past several years, I have had intermittent but severe calf pain when walking. Finally, my GP sent me to a neurologist and a vascular expert to rule out nerve or circulation issues and found no problems. I gave up at that point and just took frequent breaks when walking.
Fast forward about a year. My calf symptoms had improved quite a bit and I spent a weekend walking around the city with friends, wearing flats (not ideal, obviously). My left ankle started hurting after that weekend, on the outside of the ankle under the ankle bone to about mid-foot on the side of my foot. I assumed it was sore from all the walking and did RICE for a few days. Several weeks passed and it still hurt, so I went to a podiatrist, who diagnosed tendinitis in the ligament that is attached to the outer foot bone that goes under the ankle bone (he did not mention the name of the tendon). He gave me some topical anti-inflammatory gel, taped my foot with athletic tape into a position that would take pressure off the injury, and examined my walk. He told me I might need orthotics.
A few weeks later my ankle felt better and he made up some faux-orthotics for me by modifying some of my existing shoes' insoles with felt. I tried them out, but they made my arches hurt; these shoes had never caused foot pain before. He told me that they would feel better in time, and that real orthotics would not hurt because they are molded from your actual foot, so I ordered the orthotics. When they arrived, I tried them in the same shoes with the same result (immediate pain in my arches), but he said I should try them for a week and in different shoes to make sure, and that the padding on top of the graphite base of the orthotics would soften a bit and would stop hurting. Unfortunately, I have tried wearing them for the prescribed amount of time for the past two weeks, since per the manufacturer's instructions I am supposed to break them in gradually, and they still make my arches hurt almost immediately after putting them on. The podiatrist insists they will feel better once they are "broken in", but I can't see how I can be expected to continue breaking them in when my arches are screaming at me to take them off after a few minutes. When I sit down after walking or standing with them for 10-20 minutes, my arches actually throb. My podiatrist insists this will improve, but it hasn't, and he has been dismissive and reluctant to adjust the arch height.
As I see it, my options are: get these orthotics adjusted again by the podiatrist (he adjusted them once already) and hope for the best; ditch them and try a different style (the manufacturer page is here
; I have the Graph-Rite, but the Women's Dress line appears more in line with the types of shoes I wear most often); get a second opinion; buy some stability insoles off the shelf like these
; or some combination of these options.
If you have experience with wearing custom orthotics, did they hurt when you first got them? What is your experience with adjusting them? Do you prefer them, or did you find that off-the-shelf inserts got the job done just as well? Any other suggestions?
TL;DR: My podiatrist prescribed custom orthotics and they hurt and aren't getting better. He is indifferent to my complaints. Should I a) keep adjusting the expensive inserts, b) get a second opinion, c) try another orthotic or insole, or d) other?
I know YANAD, YANMD, etc.; I am looking more for personal experience with custom orthotics vs. store-bought, but people with podiatry/physical therapy/anatomy expertise are welcome.