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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hallux Ridigus

I've mentioned before that I have a deformity in my foot that has created some arthritis in at least one of my joints. Both feet. I know this, and it's why I wear custom orthotics in my shoes. It's why I don't feel comfortable running barefoot. For the past couple of years, I really haven't had a problem with it. But, of course, I'm having an issue now.

First, let's discuss the issue. Basically, my first metatarsal joint, or "big toe joint" as I like to call it, is higher than it should be on either foot. Worse on the right. Because of this, over time, more pressure was placed on the ball of my foot and particularly on the ball of my foot towards the big toe. This created stress, and over time the metatarso-phalangeal joint (aka big toe joint) has become arthritic. This means that I have a fraction of the range of motion in that joint that other people have. Try running without bending that joint very far... What happens is that I turn my feet out when I walk or run, most of the time.

The side effect of this different gait is that I end up with a lot of callouses and sometimes blisters on my feet on the big toe side of the ball of my foot. Feet weren't meant to go that way.

The short term solution is that I have custom orthotics that raise that joint up so that less stress is placed on the joint. However, I only wear them in my running shoes. The blisters have stopped over time, and sometimes I even run almost normal these days. I have to be careful about what other shoes I wear. I can't wear high heels that are very high, and I can't wear high heels very long or walk in them long term. I have a pair of ballet flats that I can't wear often because the edge of the shoe rests right on top of that joint, which causes a lot of pain. I end up with one or two pairs of shoes that I wear all the time to work, once I realize that they are comfortable.

The only time I have truly had a problem has been on some weeks when I have a long-long run (over 17/19 miles). I'll get some soreness, not only in that joint, but frankly over my entire foot. But, for the most part, this whole situation has become very manageable.

Long term, the podiatrist says that I may not be able to run anymore. She thinks I may have to have a surgery at some point to clean out the joint and to break it and put it back in place where it's supposed to go. That sounds horrible. I'd like to avoid it, if possible.

So, why are we talking about this today? Well, yesterday, it was nice and warm out. After a weekend of walking around mostly wearing sandals, I decided to wear high heels to work. Nice, open toed, spring-like high heels. I walked some, things were ok all day. I really didn't even think about it. We went to pick up The Bug in Pennsylvania last night and still no problem. However, after I got home, I noticed that joint was sore.

I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and almost fell down, the joint hurt so bad when I took the first step. It stiffened overnight, and now I've got myself a limp and a sore toe that hurts so bad I can hardly walk. The right joint is inflamed, you can see that's bigger than the left.

So, I'm icing. I'm supposed to run tonight, but it's looking more and more unlikely that I'll be able to. I brought my bike into work to see if I can ride a bike without pain, but I forgot my helmet so I guess that's out, too. (co-worker told me to ride without a helmet, I think that's a bad plan).

I am miserable, mostly because I can't even walk. I'm limping around, and trying not to walk at all. It hurts. Ouch. :(


Lacey said...

oh no! i'm so sorry. that sounds serious and complicated. it's amazing it hasn't given you more trouble. at least you have a podiatrist and know what the problem is. how long have you been seeing your foot doc? when did you discover the prob??

Kim said...

I found out in 2006, my first year of marathoning, when I had blisters so bad that I couldn't run. Of course, I had known for years that I walk funny, but I always thought it was "fat person waddle..." lol. I started seeing the podiatrist then, and still go in about once a year. If this pain isn't gone tomorrow, I am making an appointment.


Ouch! I really hope the pain goes away quickly!

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