by Dr. Christopher Milkie
Katie (not her real name) presented to my office complaining of pain on the outside of her foot. She didn’t recall injuring herself. The pain had started about 6 months ago. The symptoms were present every day. She tried some ibuprofen and ice, but neither helped. After a couple of months, she decided to see her family doctor. He wasn’t sure what it was, but thought it might be gout. He gave her some medication, which also didn’t help.
Katie was getting frustrated because the pain has prevented her from exercising. Not only that, she was starting to experience pain in her hip as well. By the end of the day, she had a noticeable limp. She decided to try some new shoes, and even bought some over the counter arch supports. Again, neither helped the foot or hip pain.
When Katie finally came in to see me, her foot was noticeably swollen on the top, toward the outside of the midfoot. I asked her a number of questions, and then thoroughly examined her feet. When I pressed on the swollen area, she nearly jumped out of the chair. X-rays were taken, which fortunately were negative for a fracture. I diagnosed her with a common form of tendonitis. I see this condition every day.
I treated Katie right in the office. I also educated her on the proper shoe gear for her foot type. Within one week, Katie’s foot pain was gone. Once her foot improved, her hip did also. She was obviously compensating for the foot pain, which caused the hip pain to flare up.
Katie, like many of my patients, shouldn’t have waited 6 months to see a specialist. She was fortunate that her condition was only tendonitits. It could have been a fracture, a tear, a dislocated joint, bone tumor, or another more complicated problem. Waiting could have had serious consequences, not the least of which was surgery. The moral to this story is that early intervention of foot pain and swelling is always the best approach.