I first began to call my unknown angle “Theta,” almost 10 years after Dr. Miller first introduced me to Pythagorean’s important angles, and only after I became the orthotist, physician, and most importantly, the patient. I learned with each treatment I tried, that my nerve pain was either caused or aggravated by weight-bearing activity. Decreased weight-bearing activity, anti-inflammatories, and full time use of hard, plastic custom orthotics, had helped, but not enough.
I had already decreased my activity far more than my lifestyle wanted to accept. Just the thought of living with this pain, and knowing what it was doing to my life, was depressing at the very least. I was taking maximum doses of Ibuprophin 24/7, which helped, but was killing my gut, not to mention what it was doing to my liver and heart. The only treatment that I knew that could change the way we walk and stand was arch supports/orthotics. I was wearing the best of three different custom orthotics that I tried, full time, for five months straight, during all weight bearing activity.
One morning as I dressed for work, and put on my shoes with my orthotics, I stood up and proclaimed “these (expletive) things are hurting me more than helping me.” I took them out, threw them across the room, and went to work without them. After only an hour of seeing patients, the pain had increased significantly. I took a quick break, went home, located my orthotics, and put them back in my shoes. I then had to admit I was better off with the orthotics in than I was without them.
So, the question was if or how I could improve the function of an orthotic, and eventually; how much could I improve the function of an orthotic? Ultimately, if I could improve the function of the device well enough, could I stop the pain and resume my activity?
After studying the configuration of my orthotics, and all of the many orthotics described in the literature and at medical conventions, I concluded that the functional component in all, was a wedged or angled surface. Basically, every custom and non-custom foot control devise created an angled surface to walk on instead of a flat, horizontal surface.
What I had learned from Dr. Miller was that angles can be defined and quantified using mathematics. I concluded that the functional component of any orthotic device was related to its wedged surface. If I could define, measure, and control the angle created by the wedge, perhaps I could improve its function, and maybe even help me walk without pain.
I did not know it at the time, but that was the beginning of my relationship with Theta. What I knew was that I needed to learn more about this angle. What would happen if I increased the angle of the device? How much of an increase might be beneficial? Did the device function better if it was made from materials that maintained the angle during weight bearing? Could I define the functional angle created by the orthotic? Could I establish a relationship between the angle and foot function? Could I help people like me who wanted an active lifestyle but for the pain?
I had no clue that how long it would take to be able to measure and quantify Theta. I had no clue that my study of Theta would basically take over the rest of my life. I had no clue what I might learn as I tried to quantify the function of a wedge placed in your shoes.
Regardless of what I did not know it was now extremely important that I learn how to create, measure, and control this angle. Basically, I needed to quantify Theta, the functional component of any “arch-support device,” before I could study it scientifically. I needed to understand Theta to stop MY pain.