Big toe osteoarthritis - should I just live with pain every day?

Hi, this is my first post and I'm grateful for the detailed guidance on the website.

I'm 28 and recently diagnosed with minor osteoarthritis on my big toe. Although I'm relieved to have a diagnosis, I do feel pretty down, considering my age and the fact that I really enjoy walking. My GP told me that the NHS 'won't do anything' for minor osteoarthritis. He recommended getting shoe inserts from Shuropody (these aren't cheap!) and taking painkillers. He also recommended an exercise to keep flexibility in the joint. I cannot self-refer to orthotics or physiotherapy in my NHS trust area.

I was doing all of these things anyway and every day I have moderate pain in the joint when I'm moving around. When I'm sitting still I can forget about it, but I'll start walking around and will feel pain. I drove a car for the first time in a while recently and it was affecting my clutch foot.

I know my condition is minor compared to many others but it's quite depressing to think about going from being fit and healthy to having pain every day when moving around, even just walking.

Are there any other things I can try for pain? Do you come to just live with daily pain and it stops feeling so bad - or could exercise eventually reduce or stop the pain entirely?

Thanks very much.

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