From active mom to sidelined with pain
Thea is a busy working mom and volunteer, always on the go and on her feet. With one bunion surgery behind her and facing a second on the right foot she knew she would be sidelined for about a month. But, that was okay, as it meant she would be able to live a pain free life and resume her active lifestyle that had been hampered over the years.
Bunions, which affect women more than men are a deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe. A bunion develops when the first metatarsal bone of the foot turns outward and the big toe angles toward the other toes, causing the joint to jut out. The resulting protrusion may rub on the inside of shoes, and the entire joint may become stiff and sore. Eventually, exercise and even walking may become difficult.
Thea’s surgery in May was a success. Unfortunately, after one month, the physical therapy office she selected left her in more pain and nearly unable to walk. One day at work, she had reached the breaking point. Literally in tears because of the pain, her boss recommended Michael McKindley and Progressive Physical Therapy in Costa Mesa.
“I had to get out of pain”
“All I knew was I couldn’t go on like I was and had to get out of pain,” Thea said. “I had to miss one of our son’s musical performances which was very disappointing. Grateful for the suggestion, I called them right away. After explaining my situation, Anh worked me in that day.
“My toe was throbbing and it hurt so much to just touch it,” she said. “Michael was just amazing. He knew exactly what to do and was very reassuring. He was able to work on it just a bit and I could tell immediately, I was in the right place. The next day I was feeling better for the first time in over a month. It was such a relief. I knew the physical therapy would not be easy, but I was happy to do it and get back to my life.”
Reducing swelling was the first step to obtaining relief
When Thea walked in she was limping and her toe was so swollen it could not bend. Her previous therapist was being too aggressive and was not taking into account how her body was responding to the treatment.
“When Thea came into the office, it was readily apparent in her face and posture how much pain she was in,” said Michael McKindley, DPT. “I couldn’t even do a complete evaluation, which is highly unusual. My first goal was to alleviate the pain by reducing the swelling. I was able to manually reduce the swelling and I adjusted her exercise to minimize the stress on her toe when she was walking.”
Years of foot pain created knee pain and gait issues when walking
Over the next four weeks, Thea had physical therapy three times a week. Sessions consisted of manual manipulation, electrical stimulation, whirlpool treatments, massage, toe and calf stretches. She was also given a series of exercises to do at home to ensure her momentum continued.
Progressing on schedule, Michael happened to see Thea walking in the parking lot and noticed her gait was off. This time it wasn’t because of the pain. With his biomechanic background, he broke down the issues she was having and was able to fix the problem in two weeks.
“Walking is not as easy as we think,” McKindley said. “Thea was walking with short strides, a compensation pattern she learned over the years of having her foot pain.”
“The best thing about Michael fixing my gait, was my knee pain went away,” said the 56-year-old administrative assistant. “I always thought it was just from aging or maybe a bit of arthritis, I had no idea it was because of the way I was walking.”
A New Year’s dance in high heels starts the year on the right footing
Within a month, the physical therapy had been successful. Thea was out of excruciating pain, able to wear shoes comfortably, and participate in her volunteer and family activities.
“I am so grateful to Michael and the entire staff,” she said. “They saw me at my worst and made everything better. The individual compassion and care I received was outstanding. It is going to take a few more months until I’m fully recovered, but the worst is behind me.”
Having gone through two foot surgeries in the past year, Thea has been out of action for a large part of the time. She already has plans on how to celebrate her triumph. She will be ringing in the New Year wearing fashionable high heel shoes.
“Just don’t let Michael know,” she says with a good-humored smile.