Ongoing pain in the feet or ankles calls for a visit with a certified chiropodist/podiatrist. Oftentimes, causes of chronic types of pain in the lower extremities are poor biomechanics of the feet. A chiropodist/podiatrist can perform physical examinations, imaging tests and other diagnostics to zero in on the culprit. After doing so, custom orthotics help address whatever is causing the issue.
In turn, fixing faulty biomechanics, like high arches and flat feet, helps to relieve everything from low back pain to hip problems. Additionally, the right custom insoles, as they are also known, can manage and treat pain from bunions, hammertoes, bursitis, heel spurs and plantar fasciitis.
What Are Custom Orthotics?
Custom orthotics are specially designed shoe or heel inserts prescribed by chiropodist/podiatrists as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Most commonly, this is to address pain in the feet and legs. However, prescriptions may also address biomechanical issues that are causing problems. Low back pain and hip discomfort are a couple of examples.
How Orthotics Help?
These custom-designed shoe and insoles can address a variety of problems, and based on the shape of your feet. The way in which your foot strikes as you walk or run, and the nature of the problems that you are experiencing. Highly customized devices are commonly used for the following:
- Improve the functionality of the feet and ankles.
- Correct deformities of the foot like hammertoes and high arches.
- Reduce the risk of additional injuries – something that is especially important for athletes.
- Provide better support to the ankles.
How Are Orthotics Prescribed?
When you visit a foot specialist for concerns regarding your feet, ankles or other joints that may affect them, they will usually start with a thorough physical examination of your feet and ankles.
Special pads or imaging devices have uses to detect how and where your feet strike the ground as you walk or run, which allows the podiatrist to determine the precise location and type of problem with the functioning or structure of your feet. Traditional imaging like X-rays, MRIs or bone scans can detect issues like injury, damage or arthritis in those areas.
How Are They Designed?
Unlike the shoe inserts that are sold at drugstores, custom orthotics designs suit the unique nature of your issue. As a result, no two sets are exactly alike. Typically made out of rigid materials like carbon fiber, graphite or plastic, and constructed from flexible materials that provide cushioning in strategic places. Some are full-shoe inserts while others are smaller heel inserts that slip into the back cup of the shoes.
There are also ankle-foot orthotics that consist of a shoe insert and an upright part that extends up from the heel and around the calf. Kinesiology taping, braces or other types of inserts to address various problems are also considered.
Orthotic devices fall into two categories:
Functional orthotics can control unusual or abnormal motion that is causing foot pain. They also address injuries like tendinitis and shin splints. These types of inserts are a rigid or semi-rigid material, providing extra support in strategic places. This corrects things like flat feet and extremely high arches or to protect calluses, bone spurs or hammertoes.
These types of orthotics have softer, more flexible materials. They provide support and cushioning, and offer prescriptions for things like diabetic foot ulcers and calluses on the bottom of the feet.
Orthotics Help for Conditions of the Feet and Ankles.
Some examples of the types of conditions that can cause pain and discomfort in the feet and ankles by orthotics include:
Extremely high arches can put undue stress on the muscles of the feet, causing problems like shin splints, plantar fasciitis and knee pain. Orthotics can prevent the feet from rolling inward and outward, correcting the issue and bringing relief.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause chronic discomfort in the feet. Correct poor foot positioning with custom orthotics.
Bunions, painful lumps at the base of the big toe, can generate painful foot deformities. These custom devices have wide toe bases that reduces pressure on the big toes, making things more comfortable.
A common side effect of bunions, hammertoes can cause pain in the second toe and deformities in the ball of the foot. Orthotics provide extra support that can keep these conditions from worsening over time.
Diabetes often causes diabetic neuropathy, a loss of sensation in the feet. Ulcers are a common side effect, but orthotics can reduce excessive the stress and pressure that causes them.
Bursitis involves inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs of the heels and toes. Orthotics with arch and heel support can help to reduce pain in such instances.
Reduce pain in the heel, or plantar fasciitis, through orthotics that provide support to the heels and feet.
Excess bone may develop on the backs or bottoms of the heels, causing severe pain. Custom orthotics provide support that also reduces inflammation.
When trauma occurs to the feet or ankles, your podiatrist may prescribe orthotics to give you extra support and protection during the healing process.
Reducing pain elsewhere in the body with Orthotics.
Issues with foot mechanics like flat feet and high arches can cause problems with arthrokinematics. This is also known as the way in which the joints of the body move. Therefore, they can cause issues in many parts of the body, including the low back, the knees, the hips and the spine.
The biomechanics of the feet and the way in which they strike when you walk or run can therefore cause issues with joints around the body. Tendons, muscles, fascia and ligaments that tie joints together can pull the joint out of the correct position, and this can have painful consequences for everything from the knees to the spine.
Let’s suppose that your feet naturally tend to roll inward or outward. This places excessive weight on the outer edges of the feet, causing the knees to turn inward and creating a knock-kneed gait.
In turn, the femur bone goes into the hip joint at an unusual angle, causing disruptions to the pelvic region. Your hips will then have an unsteady posture, and this misalignment can affect the health of the spine. People who experience this issue commonly develop lower back pain, but custom orthotics can help.
Get Help Today!
If you suspect that the pain that you’re experiencing in the feet or in joints elsewhere in the body is from faulty foot mechanics, Care-Med provides custom orthotics in Toronto, Ontario.
There’s only one way to find out, schedule an appointment with our qualified podiatrist to learn more.