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Bottom of feet vibrate

by Lynne
(Ohio)

Hello, I am 51 and broke my right hip in Jan. After surgery that used 3 screws to fix my hip, I was non weight bearing on that leg for eight weeks. My first day of physical therapy when I was allowed to bear weight, I stumbled and broke my right great toe. I was put in a boot cast and told to bear weight on it as tolerated. The boot did not seem to help much as I still had toe pain, so for four more weeks I continued to use my walker while not bearing weight except when going out in public when I would use the boot and a cane. Finally with the go ahead to bear full weight on both feet, I resumed walking. My feet are very flat and pronate greatly following many years of standing in my jobs. When I got back in my regular shoes with my custom made orthotics, I found them to be very irritating to wear. The bottoms of my feet hurt from them, but I continued wearing them as I thought I just needed to get use to them again. They support my feet and help with foot fatigue, but now I frequently feel vibrations in the bottom of both feet. They vibrate for two seconds, feel fine for two seconds, then vibrate, feel fine, etc. I have read others to describe it as feeling like there is a cell phone vibrating in your foot. Rest alleviates the vibrations eventually, but they start up again when I get up. Going without the orthotics have not helped with the vibrations. I told my orthopedic surgeon about it. He feels it is a nerve irritation or compression. He gave me a prescription for new orthotics. I hate to spend money on them if I don't need to as I already have so many medical bills. What would be your opinion on what to do next? Thank you very much!


RESPONSE

Hi Lynne,

It would be very helpful if I could see your old prescription orthotics but obviously that is impossible.

I am not sure what could be put into a new orthotic that could not be added (or removed) from your present pair of orthotics. This is assuming your present pair of orthotics are still in good shape.

For many of my patients, just having their old orthotics refurbished by my lab is enough to take a poor functioning pair of orthotics and turning them back into a useful pair.

It is safe to say that between your hip surgery, non-weightbearing, broken toe incident that you have done something either to your feet or your lower back.

The two main culprits, but not the only ones, that would cause your foot sensation would either be a nerve impingement in your lower back meaning the nerves that innervate the bottom of your feet, are being irritated as they come out of the spinal canal. The other possibility would be that of a tarsal tunnel in both feet.

Going without the orthotics probably would not improve your symptoms, but the fact that there is no improvement with the orthotics means you either need to have your present orthotics adjusted, or consider a new pair of orthotics particularly if your doctor suspects tarsal tunnel.

I apologize for being so vague, but I really need to see what your old orthotics look like to be more specific.

One intermediate option for you would be to purchase what is known as a "medical grade, off the shelf orthotic" such as the KLM orthotic sold on this site. If your orthopedist feels you do have a tarsal tunnel AND your old orthotics are worn out, the KLM orthotic may very well give you relief without breaking the bank.

So, in summary, the way I see this with limited information available to me is this: your orthopedist feels that whatever is causing your foot pain should be helped by orthotics. He also feels that your present orthotics are worn out.

Your options are these: see if the old orthotics can be refurbished. There will a charge for this but certainly not the cost of new orthotics. If they cannot be refurbished or the cost is too expensive, then consider a "medical grade orthotic", and lastly a new pair of prescription orthotics.

I should also mention that for a tarsal tunnel or a nerve compression in the spine, although an orthotic may help, there is no guarantee that you will be any better with a new orthotic as orthotics are generally not the treatment of choice for either condition.

Marc Mitnick DPM
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