hallux rigidus

Putting On My Dancing Shoes, Or How Ugly Shoes Are Saving My Life

I’ve barely been able to walk for the past three weeks, and if you thought moving house was difficult, try doing it with a bum foot. In one of those weird twists of fate, about a week before we moved my left foot starting hurting. I first noticed it when I walked the dogs one morning, just a little twinge on the anterior instep. With all the hauling and stair-climbing, it got worse and worse until I finally decided it would be smart to have it professionally evaluated.

“I think you may have a little stress fracture,” the PA at urgent care told me. She provided me with one of those handy-dandy black booties, and sent me on my way with a referral to an ortho.

We moved that weekend (more hauling and lots of stair climbing), and by Monday my foot was absolutely killing me. I was literally crying with pain. I scheduled myself in with the ortho, and was surprised to hear that my problems were not related to a fracture at all.

“Your big toe is malformed,” he told me. “It’s probably because of your flat feet, but you’ve got a lot of arthritis in there and bone spurs all over your foot."

This was all news to me. I didn’t even know I had flat feet.

The medical name for this condition is called Hallux Rigidus, a condition where the big toe (hallux) doesn’t flex properly when you walk, leading to development of arthritis, bone spurs, and pain with walking.

Lots of it.

He injected cortisone into the area (which did absolutely nothing), gave me a prescription for pain pills, pain cream, and advised me to get some shoes specially designed for the condition.

Well, this all coincided with my grandson’s first visit to Michigan, so I was a little pre-occupied. I continued limping along (literally) and suffering, dragging behind everybody everywhere we went with my halting baby-sized steps.

Yesterday I decided it was time to shop for new shoes - especially since I couldn’t even get any of my old shoes on. So I did some internet research and determined which shoes were recommended for this condition. Then I drove out to Hershey Shoes where I spent a weeks wages on two pair of shoes.

I started wearing them. All the time.

And lo, miracle of miracles, the pain and swelling has started to diminish. It still hurts a bit, but as long as I’m wearing those shoes I can walk at almost a normal gait and speed.

The trick is I have to wear the shoes ALL THE TIME. My inner hillbilly -the one who kicks of her shoes the minute she gets inside the house -is not happy.

But the woman who needs to walk her dogs twice a day and go up and down flights of stairs multiple times of day and who would love love love to do a Walk At Home exercise session with Leslie Sansone - well, she’s grudgingly accepted the fact that The Ugly Shoes are a necessary evil.

So, thanks Orthaheel and New Balance for giving me hope that I might walk normally again.

Who knew that a pair of shoes could be such life savers?