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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Podiatrist Recommendations for Patients with Hallux Limitus who want fashion and height...

Podiatrist Shoe Recommendations 
for Patients with Hallux Limitus/Rigidus 
who still want height and fashion.

If you've been diagnosed with Hallux Limitus/Rigidus, you understand the frustration of having this condition when if comes to finding fashionable shoes. Getting diagnosed with Hallux Limitus doesn't mean that you're relegated to a life of orthopedic shoes. You simply need to understand exactly what you are looking for in a shoe so that you will be able to find something that is comfortable and suits your sense of style.

Hallux Limitus means that you have limited range of motion of the first toe joint whether it is from injury, arthritis, gout, degenerative joint disease or the genetic biomechanical structure of your foot. Hallux Rigidus means that the condition is so bad that you have no motion through the first toe joint. What this means is that if you try to wear any shoes with a heel, it results in significant pain and more injury to the already beleaguered joint. 

So, do you have Hallux Limitus, don't want to wear orthopedic shoes but would still love stand several inches taller?  A lovely website called Solestruck.com has a variety of shoes that fit the bill. I do not recommend all of their shoes (you'll understand why when you see all the 'Lady Gaga' shoes - love her music but not her shoes!) and I suspect you'll either love them or hate them. I think their shoes are awesome but I will confess that Callie, our office manager, shot me a look of horror when I showed her the shoes I was ordering. She claimed she would never wear them in a million years but did concede that she thought I could pull off the look (she then did a bee-bop imitation of me walking through the office in my new shoes) saying that Dr. McCarthy has her own sense of style, which includes not caring what anyone thinks, which I took as a compliment! Another confession - Callie is much cooler than me so don't say I didn't give you a heads-up...   :)
Patients with Hallux Limitus/Rigidus need four things in a shoe:

1. A thick, rigid sole with no motion. If you can bend of flex the shoe, it is not good enough for you and will cause more pain and damage to the joint.

2. A wide and preferably soft toe-box so there is no pressure on the toes. As a side note, this is particularly important if you are trying to treat a fungal infection of the toenails (please see my article on this blog about toenail fungus by using the search box). It is also important for anyone suffering with painful hammertoes, bunions, corns, Morton's Neuromas, ect.

3. Rearfoot Control. It's important that every shoe have at least a strap around your rearfoot. Otherwise, you are forcing all your tendons, joints, ligaments, and muscles to work harder to stay in the shoe, which causes a variety of problems including 'tired leg syndrome' as well as knee, hip and lower back pain. If you don't have rearfoot control, you are gripping down your toes to stay in the shoe, which is aggravating your Hallux Limitus condition.

4. Arch Support. I would recommend that your add a custom-molded dress orthotic to these shoes to give you more arch support, which will help with stopping or slowing the progression of your Hallux Limitus/Rigidus condition as well as help with knee, hip and lower back pain. Many insurance companies will pay for custom molded inserts because they understand that getting patients into proper inserts helps to prevent surgery. If you are a patient of ours, please call Callie (480-563-5115) and ask her to check with your insurance company to see if this benefit is covered.   

One final note, some of you may not like the looks of these shoes but - don't knock 'em till you try 'em! I have a patient who is a young, stylish and active woman who has such severe Hallux Rigidus that the only shoe she was able to wear comfortably was a leopard-skin pattern fuzzy bedroom slipper because it had a thick, rigid sole similar to the ones below. She wore that bedroom slipper with every outfit for over a year until she found something that was similar to the below shoes that she could wear with comfort! They are hard to find but they are out there so - don't give up! If you don't like these, keep looking till you find something that you like that has a thick rigid sole, wide toebox, arch support and rearfoot control. 

Jeffrey Campbell - Mad Man
The Damned

Jeffrey Campbell - Weller


Plateau Jung

Slingback Platform Sneaker
Opening Ceremony


I hope this was helpful and I wish you a Healthy, Fun, Active
Happy New Years!!

Dr. Cathleen A. McCarthy



Peter Smith said...

his review was very good, thank you for sharing your friends ...
I was greatly helped at all ...

Women's Designer Shoes

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Thanks Peter!

Elizabeth said...

Kind of cute in a weird and wacky way! LOL! Fun!

However, now pretend your patient is a lawyer arguing a case in court while wearing her power suit and pearls. What elegant pump would you recommend for this hallux-limitus-afflicted attorney?

I need that shoe! Please don't recommend a Mary Jane (such as the Naot Pleasure). It looks childish, not elegant.

I'm stumped.

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Elizabeth,
That's the challenge! If you have severe Hallux Limitus, any heels will hurt. If you have mild Hallux Limitus, you may be able to get away with a wedge heel. Have you tried the Donald Plimer or Dansko collection - some of the wedge heel(ish) shoes might work. I wish I had an easier answer for you! It sort of depends on how bad your HL is...

Anonymous said...

Dr. McCarthy,

Are you familiar with HOKA running/walking shoes? They have a thick very cushioned rocker-type sole. Supposedly very comfortable.

Thanks much!


mom929 said...

I have the same problem as Elizabeth and need nice, professional shoes that I can wear with suits. What do you think of Earthies for Hallux Limitus? I haven't tried them before, but was looking at these http://www.zappos.com/earthies-vanya-black?zlfid=111&recoName=zap_pdp_sub They seemed pretty and not too high. Might be good for those of us with mild hallux limitus in need of a dress shoe

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Linda,
Sorry about the delayed response! I haven't seen the HOKA in person but, assuming the sole doesn't flex or bend - it looks fabulous! I can't wait to try them in person...

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi mom929,
I apologize for the delayed response! Assuming the sole of the Earthies is thick and rigid, they are great for hallux limitus. Depending on how severe your hallux limitus is - you will still be limited on the actual heel height. I also like the Earthies because of the built in arch support. Just make sure it doesn't bend or flex!

John Lucas said...

Thank you for sharing your recommendations! I've spoken to my podiatrist in Lake in the Hills about his advice for footwear, and he offered some really good suggestions as well. Foot pain is something that I've had for years, but the best footwear really helps reduce it.

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi John Lucas,
Thanks for reading the blog! Sounds like you have an excellent Podiatrist and I'm glad that we were able to help...

Anonymous said...

Dr. McCarthy, MBT's are 70% off at The Walking Company a/o 1/29/13. I have hallux rigidus and bunions which you treated with your recommendation for shoes with rigid soles and wide toe box. I went for Skecher Shape Ups because of the price point and found the rocker bottom shoes were a miracle. Because of the price point of MBT's I hadn't bought any until today but with this sale I invested in 3 pairs, one Mary Jane for dress, one sandal and one casual tennis shoe. The MBT's are on sale at the stores and online. Hope this message gets to you in a timely manner, if you don't already know about it, so you can advise your patients. Happy feet, Betsy Culver

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Thanks Betsy!
I'm really happy to hear they are working for you and thanks for the sale info!
Hope all is well,