Foot, arch and heel pain are common complaints at some time during our adult life. The feet take a considerable amount of stress every day. Included in this stress are poor fitting shoes, biomechanical problems and the surface we stand on daily. One effective action patients can take is to utilize inexpensive orthotics that are designed for specific foot complaints. For many foot, arch, heel and ankle conditions, orthotics can be very effective to correct or stabilize the problem and save the consumer hundreds of dollars.
Anatomy Overview of the Foot
The foot is made up of 26 bones. These bones are held together with tendons, ligaments and muscles. There are 2 main arches in the foot. The medial longitudinal arch is located on the great toe side of the foot. The lateral arch is smaller and is located on the outside of the foot. A smaller set of arches called the transverse arches are found at the base of the metatarsals or just behind the toes. The transverse arch runs across the width of the forefoot.
Muscles attach to the heel or calcaneus and fan out to the toes. The muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints are pain sensitive and if they have been injured may cause pain and dysfunction. Sudden injury from ankle sprain or sprain of the foot should be evaluated right away. Chronic foot pain is more insidious. Problems begin slowly and people try to adapt to the discomfort. When this foot pain persists or gait is disturbed, it’s time to have the cause of the pain evaluated. Foot problems and sore arches may have a direct relationship to ankle, knee, hip, back pain, and body balance.
Why Use Orthotics
Orthotics or shoe inserts can aid in the recovery of ankle, knee, hip and back pain by supporting the arches and correcting pronation and pes planus (flat foot or fallen arches). The doctor will evaluate the foot including the arches, to determine if treatment will help in the care of your condition. If the feet need support or treatment, it will be taken care of along with the treatment of any other lower extremity or back problem. Orthotics support the arches, cushion the heel strike and assist in the alignment of the bones of the feet. Simple foot orthotics are inexpensive. They are made for many different conditions of the foot. The inexpensive orthotics are becoming very sophisticated and there are many specific foot and arch problems they can treat. Custom made orthotics can cost hundreds of dollars and may be no more effective than some that cost $20 or $30. Custom orthotics are generally made out of hard plastic or similar material; they may end up being very uncomfortable and won’t be used because they hurt the feet. There are instances a custom fit may be necessary. Leather, plastic or a resin base may be utilized.
Orthotics help reduce foot pain and provide support to the foot. They can help to correct abnormal gait and keep the foot in good alignment. Growing older can cause changes to our feet as well as other joints in the body. Lower back, knee, hip and ankle pain may be related to biomechanical dysfunction of the foot and arch.
Common Conditions Treated with Orthotics
- Flat Feet
- Plantar Fascitis
- High Arches
- Heel Spurs
- Foot Pronation
- Biomechanical Dysfunction of the joints of the foot
Shoe selection is important for the health of your feet. If the shoe does not have a steel shank the arch of the shoe bends stressing the plantar fascia leading to chronic strain of the muscles and development of a heel spur. Firm counters are needed to keep the heel from rolling over the shoes. When the shoe breaks down it looks like you are walking on the side of the shoe rather than the sole. See if the shoe you have chosen bends easy at the arch or if you can squeeze the sides together at the heel. If one or both of these happen, keep shopping for a better shoe.
Arch, heel and foot comfort while standing and walking puts less stress on other joints in the body. Good foot health goes in concert with good spinal health.
The doctors at Coon Rapids Chiropractic Office have experience taking care of biomechanical foot problems. Your examination will determine if shoe orthotics may be necessary in the care and treatment of your spinal or lower extremity complaints.