Today morning when you woke up, your feet touched the ground first. When you took the first step of the day, your feet made it possible. Yet despite doing all this hard work, the human feet are among the most underappreciated body parts. When most people think of body care, they focus on aesthetics with the face and hands getting all the attention. (Image Credit: Thiszun/Pexels)
Could this neglect of feet be the cause of foot pain and injuries that affect about 6% of the US population every year? The tireless work your feet do every day and the support they provide to the body makes them vulnerable to injuries, pains, aches, and other conditions.
Luckily, advances in medical technology offer active foot treatment top among these being orthotics. Orthotics are custom-made shoes or heel inserts prescribed by a doctor to solve myriad foot, leg, or back problems. These innovative devices form part of a comprehensive pain treatment plan based on individual diagnosis.
If your feet are always aching, or you can’t enjoy those stylish sports shoes, it is time to try this alternative treatment. This post explores some types of biomechanical devices and the feet problems they can help with.
When Orthotics Are Necessary
With the high prevalence of feet problems, many feet devices have emerged on the market. Some of these are not effective and can lead to more harm than good. A doctor prescribes the best orthopedic devices after a diagnosis of your foot problem.
Doctors recommend these prescription medical devices for:
- People with foot deformities
- Dealing with feet pain problems
- To correct pronation problems
- Boosting the function of foot or ankle
- Improving support to the ankle
- Averting the risks for further injuries on your feet
- Control and guide a joint or body segment
- Limit or immobilize an extremity
- Restrict movement to prevent further damage
- To reduce the weight-bearing around the foot
- Improve healing after cast removal in the case of fractures
- For boosting athletic performance
- To protect from injury
Dealing with conditions such as Sciatic nerve, Arthritis, Spine deformities, soft tissue problems such as plantar fasciitis, spinal cord injuries, interdigital neuroma, and impaired muscles.
During the doctor’s visit, symptoms of the foot problem will play a role in determining whether an orthopedic device can help. The doctor will also examine your feet and also assess how you walk and focusing on the movement of the feet, ankles, legs, and hips. They will also look for any foot deformities and identify painful areas.
Some doctors use cutting-edge imaging to show how your feet touch the ground. They can also use an X-ray, bone scan, or MRI to discover any foot damage, arthritis, or foot injury.
After this examination, the doctor will determine the type of medical device to prescribe among these:
- Functional/rigid orthotics: These are plastic or carbon fiber feet devices prescribed if your foot isn’t working properly. These devices help manage pain and strains due to pain in your legs, thighs, and lower back. The device will control extra motion to prevent strains and correct leg-length problems.
- Semirigid orthotics: If you need support to walk or participate in strenuous activities, your doctor can prescribe a custom foot device. By encouraging proper anatomical function, these corrective feet devices help the feet perform more efficiently.
- Accommodative/soft orthotics: These medical devices are best for plantar fasciitis or diabetic foot ulcers. They compress easily and provide cushioning and support for your feet. They also work well for people missing fatty tissue on the sole or with arthritic feet.
- Children’s orthotics: Children suffering from foot problems such as flat feet or in-toe gait can benefit from these medical devices.
Common Foot Problems Treated With Orthotics
Biomechanical shoe devices are a practical solution if you have been struggling with foot pain, knee pain, back pain, and heel pain. They can also help with hip, neck pain, and muscle tightness.
A diagnosis of the underlying problem that could be leading to such pain and discomfort is necessary. Some of the foot problems that these orthopedic devices can help with include:
This is a foot problem where the ball of your foot becomes painful and inflamed. It is as a result of poor biomechanics and happens under metatarsal bones 2, 3, and 4. Some of the possible causes of Metatarsalgia include:
- Intense training activities
- Certain foot shapes (a high arch or a second toe that’s longer than the big toe)
- Foot deformities: For example, bunions which are swollen, painful bumps at the base of your big toes and downward-curling toe known as hammertoe.
- Poorly fitting shoes
- Being overweight
Treatment using orthopedic devices control excessive pronation. The device can also stop metatarsal bone rotation and friction. A custom orthotics will also relieve pain in the ball of the foot area.
Bunions (Hallux Valgus)
This foot problem occurs due to the enlargement of bone or tissue around the base of your big toe. It forces the big toe towards the second toe. Faulty foot mechanics cause this painful bony bump and affect mobility.
A prescription foot device can relieve pain and discomfort and also control their progression. The device offers excellent arch support and will reduce pronation. The device also ensures bones and ligaments don’t twist out of alignment.
The Achilles tendon is tissue connecting calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to the heel bone. An overuse injury of these tissues is known as Achilles tendinitis and is common among athletes. Middle-aged people involved in sports also suffer Achilles tendinitis.
A prescription medical device can help by offering good arch support and control. The best custom orthotics also offer shock absorption, comfort, and protection.
This is a painful foot condition that affects the ball of your foot. It occurs when nerve fibers thicken due to repeated trauma. Such discomfort can also occur due to compression between the metatarsal (forefoot) bones.
When the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes thickens, you can experience sharp, searing pain in the ball of your foot. Some probable causes of Morton’s neuroma include wearing high-heeled shoes.
Your doctor can recommend an orthopedic device to reduce pain in the forefoot area. The device does this by stopping abnormal bone rotation, controlling excessive pronation, and nerve entrapment.
Some foot devices also unload pressure on the nerve leading to the toes. They then redistribute the load away from the painful area.
The plantar fascia is a long, thick, fibrous band of connective tissue starting from the heel to the base of the toes. An inflammation of this band can cause a tear, causing heel or arch pain. It is one of the most common feet problems but your doctor can prescribe an orthopedic device.
Such a device works by reducing and stopping the stretching of the lower arch. It will also heal chronic soft tissue damage. These devices can also help by offering great arch support and control, and extra comfort, shock absorption, and protection.
Sesamoids are bones connected to muscles by tendons. Inflammation of the tendons attached to sesamoids leads to sesamoiditis. This mostly refers to inflammation of the tendons in the foot, and it is a common foot problem with athletes and dancers.
Symptoms include pain in the ball-of-the-foot, mostly on the inner side of the toe. You can also get difficulties straightening or bending your big toe. When walking, you might feel a ‘pop’ feeling in the same toe.
Custom orthopedic devices can help control excessive pronation and also accommodate the sesamoid discomfort.
Over-pronation/excessive pronation or flat feet is a common biomechanical problem. It occurs when walking and if your arch collapses due to the load above. It is a condition that leads to extreme stress or inflammation on the plantar fascia.
People suffering from over-pronation experience discomfort when walking and the condition can also lead to more foot problems.
Custom prescription medical devices help control excessive pronation by supporting your arches. This reduces stress on your flat feet by absorbing impact. The feet device also improves the function and alignment of your feet.
A toe with an abnormal bend in its middle joint with the shape of a hammer hence the term hammertoe. This is a painful foot condition caused by an imbalance in muscles, tendons, or ligaments surrounding the toe. In an ideal situation, these offer support that keeps your toes straight.
Foot devices such as toe wraps and toe socks can help with this problem by providing passive force or pressure to straighten the toe. By straightening the toe, they relieve the pain you would usually feel when walking.
If you are struggling with nagging feet pain, it’s time to talk to your doctor for an examination. Medical advances have given rise to orthotics to help deal with multiple feet problems. By getting the right diagnosis, it’s easier for your doctor to prescribe the best custom orthopedic device. These devices are not only corrective but also help with pain relief.