I have seen a podiatrist and have been diagnosed with hallux limitus. I wore an aircast for about 6 weeks starting in December, and felt improvement upon my return visit, but my doctor warned that it was likely my original pain would return and it has. I understand it will get worse with age. The doctor recommended custom orthotics, and told me to schedule a follow-up to get the mold made if I decided to pursue that course. Before I do, I want to understand a little more about what this means and how it will help.
I'm an early 30s female with no other foot/medical problems.
My original symptom:
I had persistent, annoying pain at the top of my left foot near my big toe. It didn't feel so much like the joint as what I guess is the extensor tendon. It didn't hurt less or more when I was running or walking, but it was a constant 2 or 3 on a pain scale of 10. I was (and am) able to flex my foot as much as I ever have been able to without the pain getting worse, and pressing or massaging the area didn't lessen the pain. My doctor took an X-ray, went through my history, explained the diagnosis as basically early-stage arthiritis and prescribed the aircast/boot, which was more uncomfortable than my original symptoms.
Where I'm at now:
A month after taking off Das Boot, my pain is back at the original level, as expected. I'm uncomfortable and it sounds like custom orthotics are the next thing I am supposed to try. Now that I understand the diagnosis, I recognize other symptoms like a painless popping/grinding feeling sometimes when I move my toe. Although it is worse in the left foot, I experience that symptom on the right as well.
I have a few pairs of simple boots with 1-2" heels (cowboy boots, black knee-highs) and a lot of slip-ons with kitten heels or just simple 1" block heels. In summer I cycle through a few pair of short wedge sandals and flip flops. I regularly wear arch supports in all the shoes that allow them because I find them comfortable. I don't wear crazy high heels outside of the occasional fancy event, and I am really picky about uncomfortable shoes. So even if I'm rocking my strappy gold heels, I am never in pain at the end of the night and am not the girl switching to flip flops mid-event.
My activity level:
I live in a city where I walk a decent amount. I am not an athlete. I started Couch to 5K last June and continued through November, when the pain in my foot really started. I've been afraid to start back up because I worry it will contribute to the foot problems I already have. I was running in these
shoes, which I bought last summer.
- Is there anything particularly awkward or annoying about custom orthotics, or is it just another shoe insert like the arch supports I already wear?
- Is it a terrible idea to ever wear shoes without orthotics moving forward? Is it harder to shop for/size shoes that will allow for them? Is this when I retire my go-to gold, strappy heels? Do I need to rethink my running shoes?
- My doctor emphasized that the reason the aircast helped was because it stabilized my foot and gave it time to rest. She also suggested I wear shoes that have strong, stable tops and don't bend so much (though I am having a hard time interpreting that into actual shoes.) So... how does more support beneath my foot in the form of a custom orthotic, which won't prevent my range of motion, actually help with the problem I seem to have?