Your feet are complex structures responsible for carrying your entire body weight and allowing you to move from one place to the next. Even though walking seems simple, the mechanics are very complicated and it is no surprise that many of us suffer from foot pains and deformities. A root cause of many problems is something called pronation. When our foot hits the ground it should hit at a certain angle, and when that angle is increased we have a situation called “excessive pronation”. With excessive pronation our weight is distributed in a less than ideal fashion over our bones and joints. This can result in many types of foot problems. We will cover a few of them today:
PLANTAR FASCIITIS: A fancy word for heel pain, plantar fasciitis is caused by excessive inflammation in our heel and arch. A common symptom is extreme pain with your first step in the morning, which gets better as the day goes on.
HAMMERTOES: Muscle imbalances in the foot may tighten ligaments around the toe joints causing them to contract in a claw like position. This can lead to painful corns and calluses.
BUNIONS AND TAILORS BUNIONS: Misaligned first and fifth toe joints that move out of place, causing a boney bump to grow on the side of your foot which can be painful and make shoes fit poorly.
NEUROMA: Abnormal function of the foot can cause the many nerves in your feet to become irritated and enlarged leading to numbness, tingling and pain. Usually you feel this between and just below your toes. It often feels like there is a rock in your shoes!
CALLUSES: Another word for a sort of thickening of the skin, calluses develop when the pressure we put on our feet is uneven in nature.
Podiatric physicians, the authority on diagnosing and treating issues related to the foot and ankle, often prescribe functional foot orthosis, also known as orthotics. These are a prescription insert for your shoes, and are designed to maintain the foot in the most effective position at all times, thus addressing alignment problems caused by excessive pronation. A prescription orthotic helps prevent the above mentioned problems from occurring, or if already present, getting worse, by reducing the abnormal forces on the feet.
To determine if an orthotic can help, a podiatrist will evaluate the positioning and movement of your leg and foot. Once this is done a 3D model of the foot is made and the resultant model of the foot is used, along with a detailed prescription, to have an orthotic made to specifically address all areas of concern found during the exam.
The advantage of prescription orthotics is they are custom made to fit your feet and to correct for the specific issues that you are experiencing. There are many “one size fits all” foot inserts that are seen in stores, however these devices can potentially create more problems, as they are not designed specifically for your feet.
So, if you have painful feet, call your local podiatrist today!