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The Wiggling Toe

January 16, 2022

This post is from 2017. I still have the same problem.

For some time I have had significant pain in my right big toe. It eventually led me to get a referral to a foot doctor, also known as a podiatrist. The appointment started out normal enough: The foot was x-rayed and I was immediately diagnosed with Hallux Rigidus, which basically meant that I had extreme arthritis in the big toe joint. I also learned that it is not the big toe but rather the great toe. I sort of already knew all of this except the proper naming of the toe so we proceeded to the dreaded “what to do about it” phase.

I asked about ultrasound. No. Cortisone injections? Maybe. The podiatrist offered no real solutions other than buying some custom insoles (which he conveniently sold) at a price tag of $460. Ouch! Didn’t he have anything more reasonable? No but he did offer an opinion that basically stated that over the counter insoles were no good and only his magical pair would do. I thanked the gentleman for his time, paid a large bill and proceeded to find another cure for my ailment.

I did some checking on the internet and was led down one rabbit hole after another. Most involved major surgeries that replaced or altered the Hallux Joint. Wasn’t there something less invasive? I returned to my primary physician and asked him for some other solutions. After some thought, he came up with physical therapy (PT). Not being a fan of this practice, I reluctantly agreed and was off to my first appointment.

It turned out that the physical therapy consisted chiefly of wiggling my big toe (great toe) and taping the toe and arch with sports tape. Not exactly rocket science! However, I faithfully made all of my appointments. As time went on, I kept asking the physical therapist for written instructions for the exercises he wanted me to do at home. The answer was always “Next time.” I also inquired about ultrasound and was told it wouldn’t do any good; only those toe wiggling exercises would help.

Now, I’m probably not the quickest guy around but pretty soon I was getting suspicious of the whole PT deal. Outside of scamming Medicare, what was really their end game? Still, I moved forward with the “treatments” until on two consecutive occasions my appointments were cancelled due to the two therapists not being available. With a straight face, the receptionist asked when I would like to reschedule. I paused about a nanosecond and responded, “Never!”

I am off next week to see yet another professional who professes to be able to help me. He will look at the whole foot and probably prescribe shoe inserts again. The difference? Looks like it will be about 80 percent less. We’ll see! Maybe I should consider amputation. At least that would be covered by Medicare. Just joking… It’s the pain talking.

So here I sit (not stand) as I write this, wiggling my great toe and wondering what the hell ever happened to medicine as I once knew it.

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  1. Aging sure brings on aches and pains. I have my share, which I treat with ibuprofen and exercises similar to toe wiggling. Best of luck with this, Allen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some PT is more pointless than others. Ibuprofen and Bengay work for me for my joints. I used to use an arnica rub on my hands, but now it’s harder to find. You’ll find what works, and I get the whole amputation feeling – if I could do that to my lower spine I’d be a happy girl! Unable to function, but not nearly as much pain

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Steve Self permalink

    From 1992-2000, I was a Board Certified Pedorthist. I made custom foot and ankle orthotics for patients referred to me by orthopedic surgeons, family doctors and a very few podiatrists. After eight plus years of dealing with their arrogance and seeing how they butchered peoples’ feet, I have zero use for DPMs. In my opinion, their expensive orthotics are trash. If the diagnosis on your toe is correct, there is probably little that can be done beyond fusion of that joint. I would suggest that you find some walking shoes with a rocker sole. An extreme would be to have a shoe modified by a Certified Pedorthist with custom orthotics made from a mold of your feet. Just my humble opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Steve – I have tried virtually everything to no avail. I now just wear a toe spaces, exercise and hope for the best.


  4. I had surgery on both feet when I was was in my 30’s. I had to go private in England. £3,000. I had the across bones removed from both big toes. 40 years on I am having similar problems with the toes. Just living with it now.

    Liked by 1 person

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