• Using Orthotics to Relieve Foot Pain

    by Dr. E. Charisse Dunn
    on Nov 22nd, 2017

Foot pain can be an extremely inconvenient and uncomfortable problem to deal with, and there are a wide variety of potential causes behind this condition. In many cases, individuals with foot pain do their best to ignore it and try to put off scheduling an appointment because they're afraid the problem might be costly to fix or too complicated to handle. However, in most cases, we're able to quickly and easily diagnose the problem. We can figure out the source of your foot pain and work on a treatment plan to get you feeling like your old self again. In many cases, the solution ends up being something simple, like orthotics.

Orthotics are special shoe inserts designed to work with the shape of your foot to relieve pain and pressure on particular areas of the foot. In some cases, you can purchase orthotics off the shelf that will prove to be effective for your condition, but in other cases, custom-made orthotics from our office might be the better plan of attack.

Types of Orthotics

The term "orthotics" is used to describe a variety of devices that podiatrists use to tackle foot pain.

The most simple type of orthotic is a foot pad, which is placed under certain areas of your foot to provide support where it's needed, ultimately relieving pain.

One step up from a foot pad is a shoe insert. Shoe inserts are the most common style of orthotic. Also referred to as insoles or arch supports, these inserts help to correct problems like flat feet, or to alleviate pain from conditions like arthritis.

In more extreme cases, custom ankle braces may also be necessary. These braces are put on before you put on your shoes, and they work to provide support for the bones in your ankle. Braces are helpful for patients with arthritis or tendonitis.

What Problems Can Orthotics Help?

Regardless of what kind of foot problem you're experiencing, there is often a type of orthotic that can provide relief.  A few common conditions that orthotics can be helpful in treating are:

Achilles Tendonitis

Your Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It connects your heel bone to your calf muscles, and it's used in basically every form of movement, from walking to running to jumping and climbing stairs. Achilles tendonitis occurs when that tendon becomes irritated and inflamed, resulting in pain and soreness in the heel area. The problem often presents itself in runners and athletes, but realistically, any individual can end up suffering from Achilles tendonitis. The Achilles tendon is used so much that it's extremely prone to degeneration and damage.

Some patients with Achilles tendonitis can clear up the condition with proper rest, but usually, additional steps need to be taken to ensure the area heals quickly and pain subsides. Orthotics are one commonly used tool in treating Achilles tendonitis. Orthotics help to relieve strain and reduce pressure, which ensures the condition does not worsen and allows the body to heal and strengthen.

Plantar fasciitis

Like Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis is a condition that also results in heel pain, although for a different reason and in a slightly different area of the foot. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes becomes strained or inflamed. This results in a stabbing pain in the bottom of the heel. The pain is often worse in the morning, or after long periods of inactivity, and can subside as the day progresses. One reliable option to relieve pain from plantar fasciitis is the use of orthotic inserts, which can provide support and shock absorption.

Flat Feet

Roughly 10 percent of adults have flat feet, a condition also known as fallen arches.  Individuals with flat feet do not have the proper arches in their feet, which means the entire sole of the foot comes into contact (or nearly comes into contact) with the surface of the ground. This condition can develop over time as a person's arches "fall" closer to the ground, although some people never have feet arches to begin with. A person with flat feet can feel a surprising amount of pain and discomfort as a result, so working to combat the problem with orthotics can help coax the foot back into the proper position and goes a long way towards relieving pain.

Conclusion

Foot pain is a common problem, but that doesn't mean you have to put up with it. If you're experiencing foot or heel pain, the solution could be as simple as using the right shoe inserts or orthotics. No matter what type of issue is bothering you, we can help get to the bottom of it and get you back on your feet again, pain free! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Author Dr. E. Charisse Dunn Podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. E. Charisse Dunn began her medical practice in Florida in 1992, working in West Palm Beach before opening her private practice, PGA Foot & Ankle P.A., in Palm Beach Gardens in 1997. The goal of her practice is to offer patient-oriented care with open and easy-to-understand dialogue that encourages patients to become active partners in their treatment.

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