This spring a 30-year-old, female patient came to see me for an assessment in my Kingston clinic because she was suffering back pain and sciatica from a herniated disc. In the past, the young woman had been able to control her pain by walking but the pain in her knees and back had become so severe she could no longer walk more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time. When I met with her she was experiencing serious discomfort because she was unable to walk long enough to control the pain from the herniated disc and she was feeling depressed from the lack of exercise as she had previously been a runner and a regular visitor to the gym.
Despite the increasing pain, and being advised by her family doctor to visit a Canadian Certified Pedorthist for an orthotic, this patient waited eight months to visit my clinic. As she had always worn running shoes that she felt had enough support, she believed there was little that could be done and that she would simply have to live with the pain. However, by the time she finally arrived at my clinic she was in so much pain she was willing to try anything to reduce it.
During her initial visit I conducted a thorough assessment of her feet and lower limbs and performed an analysis of how she walked. Using this information I fabricated custom orthotics to address the biomechanical issues that presented during the gait analysis. She was advised to wear them gradually at first (the ‘break-in’ period), then full time after approximately one week. The patient did not have to change her footwear as her current footwear fit her well and worked with the orthotics.
Now, three months after her first visit, the young woman is walking 5 to 7 kms a day – a distance long enough to control the pain caused by her herniated disc. She is delighted to be back to her normal activity levels and she happily admits to being very surprised by how little pain she is experiencing and how comfortable her orthotics are to wear.
I always find it very satisfying to watch my patients return to the activities they enjoy. However, I never fail to be surprised at how many people delay visiting a Pedorthist because they truly believe their pain or condition cannot be managed. The young woman’s decision to delay treatment eight months, or until the pain became intolerable, is not unusual, but it is not necessary. If you are experiencing pain in the feet or lower limbs book an appointment with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist right away. We can help.
By Kati Whalen, C. Ped Tech (C), C. Ped (C), Kingston, Ontario