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Ray Kemble (@ray666)

What to ask a podiatrist?

Neuropathy | Last Active: Jun 17 12:35pm | Replies (58)

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Hi Ray, I was on a similar quest the week before last when I met with orthopedic doctor for suggestions on what might help me with my balance since I have a bad case of hammertoes on both feet. I had been wondering about surgery vs alternative treatments or physical therapy. After examining my ugly toes and not finding any sores or infections he told me surgery is mostly reserved for infections from sores on top of the toes due to rubbing, etc. He told me to keep wearing shoes with large/wide toe box and loose fitting at the top which mine are. He suggested I talk to my PCP about physical therapy for balance which I haven't done yet but I have been trying different balance exercises I've found.

One interesting thing I've done the past 7 months is to change the type of shoes I wear. I used to exclusively wear the spongy foam soled Sketchers because they are comfortable but I have been noticing that they seem to contribute to my wobbly feeling when I'm standing or just get up from sitting. I found some shoes with thin zero drop soles (flat, no heels) and I kind of like that I can feel the ground better and seem to be a little more stable. The downside has been no cushion but for most walking it hasn't been a problem. The ortho doc thought they were good for the hammertoes since they didn't rub on them. I'm still planning on discussing PT for balance and possible gait training. I did have to walk for the ortho doc and he looked at the gait but didn't say anything so I'm not sure if that's also part of my problem.

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Replies to "Hi Ray, I was on a similar quest the week before last when I met with..."

Hi, John. It seems we're trying to get an answer to the question, "What works best?" I had meant to include in my original post the mystery of shoes (with orthotics) vs. barefoot. Usually, around home, I go barefoot––or sock-foot, no shoes, and my balance, while not great, isn't too bad; it's certainly better than when I'm wearing my shoes. (I'm wearing Nunbush shoes.) When I put on my shoes, my balance goes all crazy, like my gyroscope is broken. That makes me wonder: Which is better? Barefoot? Or shoes? Of course, when I go anywhere, I've got my shoes on, and boy, oh boy, do I have to be on guard! I haven't fallen, but I feel it's only a matter of time. As far as balance exercises go, I've been doing my own at-home exercises, following a program called Better Balance for Life. There are several enterprises using that name. The one I follow is led by a teacher in Perth, Australia. I believe it's helped me, or at least it's helping me keep apace with my balance deterioration. I try doing an hour's session three times a week. Only the other day, however, I sent a message to my neurologist asking if he had any recommendations for physical therapists with a special knowledge of what folks like us with PN are experiencing. I haven't heard back from him yet. ––Ray