Really bad foot pain

catherinetMay 3, 2007

Hi all,

I have had various foot problems ever since I was 17. I'm 57 now. The first problem I had was metatarsal pain, then later in life I got plantar fasciitis. I always wore custom orthotics, and they always helped.

Last summer I had right knee surgery and was in alot of pain for about 2 months afterwards (possibly because of my fibromyalgia). It caused me to limp terribly for a long time. I then developed stinging pains in my toes, and thought I had Mortons neuroma.

I have had the same podiatrist for about 30 years, and was crazy about him, but he moved over an hour away, and I didn't want to travel that far.

I was impressed with my knee physical therapist, and she recommended a local orthopedic doc for my foot. I went to him and he took xrays, but couldn't find anything wrong with my foot. He told me to continue to wear the orthotics that the physical therapist had given me earlier.

They helped a little, but not enough. I went back to him and he said still was nothing obvious wrong. At that point they moved the metatarsal pad a little on the generic orthotic. This helped a little too.

But....about 4 days after wearing it, I woke up one morning and could barely put any weight on that right foot. It was like all the bones in my metatarsal area were fused together. This went on for several weeks. I went back to the doctor and he took xrays to be sure there were no stress fractures. All looked okay. I convinced him to make custom orthotics for me, since everyone is different, and I thought I would benefit from these, rather than just generic ones.

So, for $275, I got custom orthotics. I wore them for about 5 days, when my knee started hurting so badly I actually needed a cane. I quit wearing them for several days and the knee felt better. I wore them again for 1 day, and the knee got worse again, so I'm positive its the orthotics. I quit wearing them.

I've called the physical therapist and will go in next week again. I'm still considering going back to my podiatrist. I feared this would happen. I've spent over $1,000 on this foot problem, and I'm still in so much pain and limping so badly that I can hardly do things.

Don't you find it strange that they can't take care of my foot? This guy is a very reputable foot/ankle doc at a reputable sports medicine clinic in a large city.

I'm just getting very discouraged. I'm in constant pain from it. I can't take NSAIDS, which complicates things.

I know my fibromyalgia can cause some pain amplification problems, but it is hard for me to understand why they can't get my foot to feeling better. Any suggestions?? Thanks.

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I can't offer any help. My foot isn't quite as bad yet as yours, but I know exactly what you are talking about. My podiatrist just recommended Alpha Lipoic acid, Co-Q 10, and B-6. The sports medicine doc did a nerve conduction study. That was painful, but not helpful. On Tuesday I saw a neurologist. He has no idea what is going on, but is going to check all my X-ray, MRI, and Cat scan images. He is also testing me for a B-12 deficiency. I don't wear my custom orthotics anymore because I am better without them. I just got a book yesterday from the library entitled "Treating & Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue syndrome". It is a new book and while leafing through the pages I saw that this foot problem is not unusual for people with fibro which I also have.

so....if you ever get an answer I hope you will post it here and I will do the same. In the meantime we will hope that someone else has an answer for us.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 1:39PM
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Catherinet, exactly where in your foot is the pain?
It sounds like to me you need to get another opinion totally outside of where you are going. You've spent enough money with this doc and you are not only not getting any better, but getting worse.

Depending on the location of the pain besides your toes, it sounds like it might be tarsal tunnel syndrome.

If you tell me where the pain is I might be able to give you an idea if it is the tarsal tunnel as I have it.

You can also do a google search on tarsal tunnel syndrome for some info.

Also on your custom orthotics, did the doc make them himself or did he send them out to be made from a mold of your foot and then they where sent back to him. Did he do any custom adjustments of the orthotics?

I have customs and went directly to a place that makes them right there on the spot. Made the mold of my foot and then spent over an hour making the adjustments on the finished orthotics for both feet till they felt comfortable.

Yours might need some adjustments made to them to help as well.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 4:41PM
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Thanks devorah and littleonefb,
The pain initially was stinging pain in my toes. Then after my first generic orthotics, it was across the whole metatarsal/ball of my foot. Its starts where the arch starts to come down to the ball of the foot. The entire metatarsal area feels like all the bones are fused together and are totally stiff. I'll look up the tarsal syndrome and see if it fits.
The physical therapist pushed my feet down into this foam stuff and they sent them out to be made into orthotics. (The first orthotics they gave me were generic ones that they added a metatarsal pad to). There were no adjustments made to the "custom-made ones). The insides of the orthotics were really built up to correct a supposed pronation I have, and I think that was done without any concern for my knee problems, and it really threw my knees off.
My old podiatrist used to make a cast of my foot with paster-of-paris type stuff, and then send it out. Every one he ever made for me always fixed me up.
I went to another ortho doc many years ago for plantar fasciitis and he didn't know what to do. I swore I would never go to an orthopod again......but this guy was well respected here, and so much closer, so I went to him. Now I'm thinking I should have stayed with my podiatrist.
What ticks me off is that the orthopedic docs always badmouth the podiatrists.
I'm going back to my physical therapist on Monday. I'm not going to sink any more money into this. But I'm hoping I might be able to get my money back for these inlays. Unfortunately, they have injured my knees, and I'm still having pain from that. GGGrrrrrr. I'm am so upset that I've spent over $1,000 and I'm still limping badly.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 8:09PM
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Catherinet, doesn't sound like tarsal tunnel syndrome to me based on my symptoms and esperience.

Compounded orthopedic problems are a pain in the you no what. I have them too and I sware, you fix one and create another, on and on and on. Each one ends up being directly related to the other.

From experience, there are many orthopedic foot surgeons who highly respect podiatrists and visa versa and then you have the ones, like you said that bad mouth each other.

I started with golfers elbow in my right arm and went to an ortho pod for it. long story short with him. I was the fool to trust him, but realized it too late. Botched treatment, botched unnecessary surgery, and permenent weakness in my right upper arm, and tendon weakness in both that can limit my function at times. While going to this doc I developed plantar fasciitis. I went to a podiatrist that my daughter and hubby had used and was wonderful. Fixed it up in a couple of weeks, but had to check about the steroid shot with the ortho doc because it happened shortly after I had the surgery on my arm. This ortho literally screamed at me for being a fool and using a podiatrist. Funny thing is I was the fool to use the ortho doc.

Anyway left the ortho doc and went to a sports medicine practice that had every kind of orthopedic specialty in it for a second opinion on my arms. 2 years and got that worked out as best I could and developed a spinal problem. Ended up needing surgery for spinal stenosis, emergency surgery for it last June.
Was getting back on my feet, still going to PT in August when I started having trouble with both feet and ankles. I was afraid that it was something with my back so went back to see the spinal doc. He said it was from correcting the back problem and standing up straight and now my feet where having a problem because of it. He was more than willing to ok my going to a podiatrist and knew the one I used, or I could see their foot, ankle, knee doc there. I chose to do that as felt they could work together to be sure that what ever was done with my feet didn't cause problems with my back.
The foot orthopedic doc diagnosed the tarsal tunnel syndrome and gave me a PT order and order for custom orthotics and see him in 6 weeks. He also had no problem with the podiatrist making the inserts for me, especially because his office was 15 minutes from my home and the ortho docs are about 40 minutes away.
Went to the podiatrist and got a different diagnosis and he refused to make the inserts because I needed surgery and would have to be on crutches for 6 weeks. I can't use crutches because I can't bare weight on my arms without tearing the tendons in my arms. He told me that I was wasting money on inserts and PT and I would either have to have the surgery or suffer the rest of my life in pain.

Chose the PT and had the inserts made at the place the ortho doc told me to go.

The guy there heated up some kind of, what looked like craft foam and I stepped on it and it molded to my foot. After it hardened, about to minutes he did some cutting from the shape and he put them in my shoes. I had to walk around in them for about 5 minutes and then tell him how they felt. Well it took about an hour of moving shaving off in this spot, adding in another, etc. to get them to feel comfortable. The I was told to wear them only for 3 hours a day for the first 2 days and build up from that over the next 2 weeks. Unless they where really uncomfortable before the 2 weeks. I got used to them in a week and they have been fine ever since.

Your inserts where made the "usual way" foam shape and then the work is done outside without your foot and no adjustments made.

The people that make them in a custom place are specially trained to do this and can tell what is wrong with the foot from the mold and where the stuff is needed to add. They also can take care of making sure it is done so as not to cause further problems with your knees.

Between the PT and the inserts my feet heeled quite well and I don't really have a problem with them now.

I asked a friend, who is a physical therapist in a hospital, if they are trained to do molds for custom orthotics and she said no way. Occupational therapists are trained to do hand and wrist molded splints but we are not and we are not trained to do foot moldings for orthotics. she said that you need to go to a specialist that makes them while you wait and have them adjusted while you are there.

I would talk to the doc that did you knee surgery about the pain you are suffering and what is going on. Ask him/her for the name of someone to use for your feet. they should be able to work together to help you.

Do I find it funny that the doc you're using can take care of your foot? No way in h##l.

I went to the head of the hand and arm orthopedic department of one of the most prestigious hospitals in Massachusetts and he is as about incompitent as a doc can get. If I could find a mal practice attorney to take my case I would sue the crap out him and get his liscence for good. But none want it because there isn't enough money in it.

Like any other profession, there are good and bad docs. We both have found the bad ones first, but the first thing everyone should remember is that if you are not getting any help for a medical problem after some time then it's time to get another opinion. You have every right to do this and if the doc doesn't like it, well that's just too bad. Get all your xrays, CT, MRI and anything else and take them with you to a new doc and do it ASAP. forget about the fact that the physical therapist you like said to use him.
He didn't work for you and there is someone out there that at the very least, will be able to diagnose the problem and the provide the proper treatment.

Good luck and let us know what happens.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 12:08AM
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Well, when I couldn't wear my new custom-made inlays, I called the physical therapist and she said to come in. She modified the inlays and went through a couple exercises with me.
I made the wrong assumption that this visit would be part of the cost of the inlays. It seems only fair to at least give me one session to try to make the inlays fit better. She charged me close to $150!! I'm not going back. I've wasted over $1,200 on this foot problem and I'm worse than when I started. And the inlays actually messed up my knee that I had surgery on. What a bummer.
I'll be calling my old podiatrist soon.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 7:55AM
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Ever thought of a chiropractor? Would need to see the xrays though.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 10:14PM
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