What causes foot problems?
Your feet are extremely complex structures composed of bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, and skin. They may develop certain disorders (some of which originate in other parts of the body). They are also subject to injuries and other problems caused by normal wear and tear over years of supporting the weight of your body and making it possible for you to stand, walk, run, and jump.
The most obvious symptoms of foot trouble are pain and dysfunction (limping, favouring one foot or the other, inability to put weight on the heel and/or the toes). Foot pain can be due to ill-fitting, inappropriate footwear that cramps your feet; injuries that keep you from walking well (or at al)l; sprains which stretch or tear ligaments (which connect bones); and stress fractures of bones in the foot, which can result from accidents or overuse while engaging in sports or exercise. Just as foot disorders may originate elsewhere in the body, problems experienced in the feet can cause difficulties in other parts of the body.
What causes foot and ankle problems?
From the time you learn to walk, your feet assume three crucial functions: the support your body whenever you stand, walk or run; they assist you in achieving movement from one place to another; and they help protect your bones and soft tissues from damaging shock stress as you move. Being overweight, having minor structural defects in the feet, or injuries -- all of these factors can contribute to additional foot and body stress. So even though one quarter of all of the bones in your body are in your feet, having to perform these three strenuous tasks day after day can (and often does) lead to some type of foot and/or body problem. It's not surprising to learn, therefore, that by the age of twenty, nearly 80% of us have some kind of foot problem, and by the age forty almost everybody does.
Foot pain and dysfunction caused by illness or injury can force you to modify your gait (the way you walk) and create significant stresses on the joints of your legs, hips, and lower spine. Your feet are the foundation for your entire body. When they suffer from pain, misalignments, malformations, and malfunctions, your whole body is placed in jeopardy. Even without pain, foot dysfunction can cause your whole body to overcompensate, which can lead to back pain and even headache, not to mention the emotional stress of discomfort and limitations on movement that can spread from the feet upward.
Who suffers from foot problems?
No one is safe from foot problems. But older or overweight individuals, diabetics, and serious athletes and dancers who place great demands on their feet are more prone to foot disorders than others are. If you are troubled by chronic or recurrent foot pain and/or dysfunction, you would be wise to consult a chiropractor, who has experience relieving such pain and preventing it from causing even more painful and disabling joint, muscle, connective tissue, and nerve problems in other areas of your body.
The most common foot problem though is Pronation. In pronation, some of the bones of the foot drop to a less stable position because the foot arches are too weak to keep them in proper alignment. The arches themselves may be unnaturally stretched ("flat feet"), and stress on the entire foot increases. Another common problem -- one that is often found along with pronation -- is Plantar Fascitis, a stress irritation of the sheath of elastic tissues running nearly the entire length of the foot. If not treated, either condition can lead to progressive development of foot malfunction and discomfort. Feet can become "tired and achy" or experience a burning pain, and walking can begin to feel "clumsy" as you try to move your foot in a way that avoids further pain.
What can chiropractic do?
The doctors at River Park South Chiropractic Center can help you overcome foot and ankle problems that can cause additional problems in other structures: your legs, hips, lower back. Wel employ a number of diagnostic tests, including examining your gait and foot function, and take a thorough history to assess the nature of your foot problem. We will palpate (move) your feet and ankles to measure any limitations in range of motion to identify what is causing your pain, and determine the best course of treatment.
Chiropractic adjustments of your feet--and elsewhere in your body, as required--can restore function and relieve pain. As a result, other body structures can be relieved of or protected from painful disorders stemming from or causing your foot problems. In addition, we may recommend shoe inserts (orthotics) to help solve some of your foot problems and can provide nutritional and lifestyle counseling that could help reduce biological and psychological stresses on your body as a whole, improving your overall well-being, including your foot health. Some of our patients seem surprised when we request that they have a pedicure with their local esthetician before the orthotics are casted for. However, it's critically important that we get rid of thickened skin and build up of callous that the body has made dealing with foot dysfunction so we can obtain a perfect and comfortable fit.
Before such a program begins, we may wish to perform a complete examination, which may include checking for tenderness in the foot, analyzing the posture, taking x-rays, watching how you walk, and looking over you shoes for signs of improper wear.
The treatment you receive will probably focus in general on reducing swelling, relieving pain, restoring functional movement and position through manipulation (adjustment), protecting your foot from additional stress, and strengthening your foundation.
Based upon the findings, we may develop a program containing all or some of the following:
- Rest: a decrease or stoppage of running and jumping exercises is often indicated.
- Ice the foot: to help bring down any swelling.
- Manipulation: (adjustment) of the foot to stabilize your postural foundation and to help relieve related stress/pain to the rest of your body.
- Adjunctive Therapies: In some cases we may use a paraffin wax bath to limber up tethered soft tissues to make adjustments easier to tolerate. We also may utilize a tens unit or an interferential modality to reduce pain and swelling and improve global mobility of the articulations.
- Orthotics: to help the foot maintain its structural and functional balance as you stand walk or run. Your chiropractor can select the orthotics or brace best suited for you based on a variety of factors (life-style, health, age weight sex, etc). Many patients, because of the variety of shoes and activities they engage in, require more than one pair of orthotics (for example, one pair designed to go into their steel-toed boots at work, and a second pair to go into their skates for ice hockey).
- Exercise: to help build muscle strength and joint stability.
If you have questions about the foot care we provide, we are here to help. Call us.