All you ever wanted to know about orthotics
Misaligned feet are the result of the ankle bone sliding off of the heel bone causing the small, naturally-occurring space in between (called the sinus tarsi) to collapse. When you stand on feet that are misaligned, it causes a chain reaction of misalignment through the body, putting excessive strain on the ankles, knees, hips, and back. It is estimated that nearly 45 percent of people have misaligned feet. Misaligned feet are quite common, but often misdiagnosed because they cause a variety of seemingly unrelated symptoms including knee, hip and back pain. They affect people of all ages.
Biomechanics is the science concerned with the internal and external forces acting on the human body and the effects produced by these forces. A biomechanical assessment identifies whether or not your muscles, joints and/or nerves are working together in a proficient manner. For a podiatrist, it is important to examine how your body relates to or is affected by the movement of your legs and feet. Hips, back, poor posture, headache, nerve pain and neck pain can all be attributed to problems with the feet and lower legs. A biomechanical assessment can provide an excellent outline of how your joints and muscles work during exercise.
A foot orthotic is a custom made shoe insert that could be made from a plaster cast of the foot which is form-fitted to the foot. A 3-D scanner can also be used to capture the foot shape. This would replace the plaster cast. There are different types of orthotics designed for different activities, various shoe gear and various foot ailments. The purpose of an insole is to prevent abnormal motion of the foot while allowing for normal motion and function.
An insole is designed to control the biomechanics of the foot to a precise degree – from the mid-stance and toe-off phases.
Since faulty foot biomechanics are the etiology behind a great deal of foot pathology development, prescription orthotics can be utilized to address the following conditions: plantar fasciitis (arch pain), heel spur syndrome (heel pain), pes plano valgus (at feet), bunions, reduction of callus formation, hammertoes, Achilles tendonitis and ankle and foot-related knee, hip and low back pain. The need for orthotics for your feet can be compared to what eyeglasses do for your eyes. As long as you wear them you will walk correctly and comfortably.
New technology has been developed to fix and correct the malalignment in the foot with a simple procedure that can dramatically reduce, or even eliminate symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Prescription orthotics and children
Practically all foot imbalances that podiatrists see stem from childhood. Abnormal foot mechanics aggravated by shoes may be the precipitating factor to many foot ailments seen in adults. These imbalances are recognized as early as the age of three or four. If a child has feet that flatten or “roll in” excessively (called hyper-pronation) chances are they will experience more serious problems in later life. At an early age, structures of the foot can be re-positioned to grow in proper alignment. Often, children will not complain of foot problems and so a check-up by a podiatrist is a good idea for all children.
If you are experiencing foot discomfort that persists, the origin may be biomechanical in nature, in which case an orthotic would be helpful.
Many times, orthotics can help in situations of flat feet, high-arched foot structure, heel pain, bunions and even callus formation. Since the foot is the foundation of the body, symptoms at the ankle, knee, hip and lower back can be related.
Since orthotics can work in a preventive fashion to avoid potential foot problems, they may be indicated in some cases even though you are not experiencing pain. An example of this is when the foot rolls in or flattens excessively. This may lead to disabling problems in the future. Arthritis and soft tissue damage can result due to the poor alignment of the foot. Have a podiatrist do an assessment of your feet in order to decrease the chance of future problems.
Orthotics are not just expensive arch supports. A simple arch support is designed to push up against the arch while standing. It is not meant for “static stance” or for “dynamic motion.” Because arch supports designed to control the mechanics of foot imbalances are so varied, a precise prescription for each patient is often required.
Buying an arch support over-the-counter is similar to buying prescription eyeglasses off the shelf. An exact understanding of where the problem lies is required in order to obtain optimum results.
• For more information email us at [email protected], or to see a podiatrist visit Bahamas Foot Centre, Rosetta Street, telephone 325-2996 or Bahamas Surgical Associates Centre, Hilltop Medical Centre, East Terrace Centreville or telephone 394-5820; or Lucayan Medical Centre, East Sunrise Highway, Freeport, Grand Bahama, every first and third Thursdays, telephone 373-7400.