Thanks friend Terrie for chiming in !!
That's part of why we're here Nel, to advise and to share our experiences/knowledge.
Jen, it seems to me that doctors guess a lot, and their guesses gravitate toward what they have the most experience with. With the symptoms you described, my podiatrist would probably have been looking for Charcot. To diagnose that, he'd look at xrays and check to see if the feet were warmer that the legs. Really, that's all. I'm not saying you have Charcot, I'm just saying that 3 different doctors with different specialties can come up with 3 different diagnoses based on not much evidence, so do please get a second opinion. Especially before taking any vaguely prescribed drugs.
I have had all sorts of nasty things wrong with my feet even though I'm "barely" diabetic and stay in the low 5's with diet. So your toe problems aren't necessary a result of years of high BG. Mine weren't. My cousin had full-blown Charcot and wasn't diabetic until a couple of years later. True, she might have been pre-diabetic before that, but neither of us had uncontrolled high blood sugar.
I have never seen a podiatrist and I think this is the type of doctor I'd really like to see, given my foot problems and 21 years of diabetes. I am pretty sure the x-ray I got was interpreted by some sort of specialist, as my GP just read off the notes of what was found (which was basically just arthritis of my two toe joints, no other foot problems), but I definitely think seeing some sort of foot specialist would be useful.
I do lots of exercise but my Frozen shoulder does slow me down, It is resolving now so I am back in the groove. I run about 35 miles a week.
Sorry to hear about your diagnosis; there are lots of herbal/natural things you can take to help manage your arthritis, ask your doc or go to a local health food store.
Arthritis is not age-specific (just like diabetes, as I get told I'm too young to have diabetes, some people just miss the point). Loads of children have arthritis and it can be diagnosed at any age (my husband was diagnosed at the age of 6 years, he is now 36).
Hope things improve and you get some relief soon :)