After neck, low back and knee pain, the next most common issue walking into our office is foot pain. The foot is a complicated structure, containing 26 bones, more than 30 joints and countless muscles and tendons. The foot plays an important role in providing support for our entire body, balancing, absorbing forces, helping to move and participating in physical activity.
The foot is a unique structure because when it is planted (midstance), the foot needs to be stiff so it provides a stable support. However, when the foot is propelling the body forward (pushoff), it must have the mobility to do that.
The bones that form the “arch” in the foot are the main form of support. On the underside of this arch is the plantar fascia, which is a VERY strong band of tissue. When the foot contacts the floor, the arch should be strong enough to maintain its positioning.
When the foot is planted, sometimes the arch will collapse or fall flat. There can be a number of reasons for this. Seeing a movement specialist, such as a physical therapist, can help to evaluate why this is happening. If it continues to happen over a long time, the arch will flatten out over time. The problem with the arch collapsing is that it causes the plantar fascia to be the primary support to the foot. Bones are much stronger than ligamentous tissue. Eventually the plantar fascia gets so irritated that it begins to produce inflammation and cause pain. This is what is known as “plantar fasciitis.”
A lot of patients will say that they have heel pain or even that it feels like a pebble is in the bottom of their foot. Plantar fasciitis is difficult to treat because it is hard to rest the tissue since we require walking and moving to live our lives. One thing that can be done is to properly support the foot with either good shoes or adding in a pair of orthotics. This will help support the arch and avoid it from collapsing and further irritating the plantar fascia.
Now, all orthotics are not created equal. There are many that you can buy off the shelf but it may not be the exact fit that you need. Here at Advanced Care Specialists, we have a custom fitting process. There are multiple elements to our process to ensure that the orthotics are made to the patient’s specific needs.
To learn more about our specific fitting process, click HERE to read another blog post that details it.
Ultimately, the orthotics will help support the foot but it is still important to figure out why the arch is collapsing. At Advanced Care Specialists, we strive to figure out the root cause of each patient’s pain versus just treating the symptoms they are experiencing. We have multiple providers and many treatment options at our disposal to be able to provide patients what they need and help them to accomplish their goals.
Emma Minx, DC, CCSP, MS