Tag Archives: Orthotics

Do bunion splints and braces actually work?

14 Mar

Most people who first develop a bunion reach for over the counter remedies to control the pain and soreness which accompany the deformity. After all, who wants bunion surgery if they don’t absolutely need it? We understand completely.

bunion splints and braces

If you google “bunion splints” you’ll find a dizzying and overwhelming array of products, some of which make rather spurious claims. You’ll also find it difficult to look at a product description and image and decide that this is the right bunion splint (or whatever) for you.

The problem is, a bunion is the result of certain faults in foot structure and function, which are inherited traits. Because of these subtle differences, each patient’s bunion symptoms and pain tolerance are unique. Some develop huge, painful bunions in their youth, and others live with a small bunion for 20 years until they opt for surgery in their mid-50’s.

Read about how a bunion forms

What are your choices for over the counter bunion products?

This list could be very long, but we’ll limit it to the most common products. In spite of marketing claims, none of these remedies can actually correct your bunion, they can only (possibly) slow down the bunion development and temporarily relieve symptoms. What works for one person may be completely ineffective for another, so you’ll most likely have to try a few products until you find the right one for your condition.

  1. Bunion splints or bunion braces are the most effective products if they address the underlying foot problems. A bunion splint usually holds the big toe in place with a loop, which is connected to a binding around the mid-foot. This exerts a force which moves the toe into proper position, and relieves tension on the tendon and toe muscles. Some are rigid and can only be worn at night. Flexible splints are made of fabric and can be worn inside your shoe.
  2. Protective pads or cushions placed on the bunion protect it from rubbing on the inside of the shoe, but do not straighten the big toe.
  3. Wedge-shaped toe spreaders fit between the big toe and the adjacent toe, and move the big toe back into a straight position. This will provide some relief to the tendons in the upper mid-foot, which become sore form the stretching caused by the bunion.
  4. Toe spreaders that fit all of your toes are somewhat more helpful, as they re-align all of the toes in the foot. They can provide relief for your sore foot in as little as 30 minutes. If you can tolerate sleeping in them, they’ll relax the tendons in your foot and provide some comfort.
  5. Toe straighteners are padded splints that run along the inside of the foot and rest against the heel, to force the big toe back into proper position.

If you opt to not have corrective bunion surgery, we recommend that you consider custom orthotics which provide support for your foot and can be molded to provide relief from your bunion pain.

As new over-the-counter products are continually introduced, we can’t recommend one over another, but you may visit our foot and ankle healthcare products page for a wide selection of products which may offer you some temporary relief.

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What is the benefit of custom foot orthotics?

5 Feb

Shoe inserts from a drug store or shoe store are not to be confused with custom made foot orthotics. Most everyone has tried over the counter shoe inserts at some time in their life, and most everyone has been disappointed with them. That’s because there’s no such thing as an “average foot”, so a one-size-fits-all solution for foot pain doesn’t exist.

custom made foot orthoticsOrthotics are custom made shoe inserts. They can only be ordered by a medical professional after an examination of your feet, your gait, your pronation, and an analysis of any pain you may be experiencing. Issues resulting from heel pain, bunions, plantar fasciitis, flat feet, high arches, abnormal biomechanics, or poor lower limb alignment can all be addressed with custom designed orthotics, which can be made to cushion sore areas and correct abnormalities. They can also be very helpful for athletes, especially runners who have recurring problems with their feet.

Orthotics are made from more durable materials than over the counter shoe inserts, and they last for years, not months. Orthotics are custom designed specifically for your foot to improve your running, walking, and balance by supporting the arch, cradling the heel and rotating your foot into a “neutral” position. This support and proper pronation helps the foot function at its maximum level. When your foot is balanced and supported correctly, you’re less prone to ankle or foot injury, knee pain, hip pain, and back pain as well. After all, your entire body is riding on your feet.

For athletes, foot orthotics can help reduce foot stress and fatigue, and may also increase agility. By balancing the foot, shock absorption will improve, diminishing before reaching your limbs.

How do I know if I’ll benefit from custom orthotics?
  • Look at the bottom of your shoes to see if they are worn evenly across the toe or heel area. Even wear-and-tear indicates your gait is normal, but if they wear out too quickly or unevenly, then you may benefit from orthotics
  • Do your feet hurt after being active? How about your ankles, knees, hips, or back?
  • Do you have unusually high arches?
  • Do you have flat feet?
  • Do you have tendonitis, shin splints, hammer toes?
  • Are your legs consistently tired or aching?
  • Do you have diabetic foot problems or a neuroma?
Only a podiatrist can tell if custom made orthotics are right for your feet, but most patients notice an immediate difference in comfort and stability, and their pain is sharply reduced or eliminated.

The facts about Arthritis in the foot and ankle

12 Sep

Roughly 40 million people in the United States are suffering from arthritis symptoms at any given time. Most are over 50 years old, but arthritis can affect the joints in the foot or ankle at any age.

One-quarter of the bones in our body are in our feet and each foot has 33 joints. Any of these can be affected by arthritis.  Downward pressure from our body weight wears out the padding in our feet and wears out the cartilage in our joints until bone rubs on bone, inflaming the joints and causing pain. And it doesn’t help that we typically gain weight as we age.

One of the side effects of arthritis is the cascading effect. If you have pain in your ankle or foot, you change the way you walk. But when you change the way you use your feet, you also change the way you turn your ankles, knees, hips and spine. For instance, to reduce the pain in your foot, you might pronate (tilt your foot to the inside). This will cause cartilage in the ankle to degenerate, causing you to pronate more, further wearing out the cartilage. Weakness in the ankle will then cause stress on the knee joint, forcing the knee to turn in, resulting in a non-alignment of the knee, which can degenerate the outside of the knee joint. So when the foot isn’t aligned, it affects everything, and if you already have arthritis in these joints, it gets much worse.

To slow these additional issues, see a podiatrist at the earliest symptoms of arthritis, so they can establish a baseline and take pain management steps to avoid further damage to your body. The early signs of arthritis include pain or tenderness in the joint; stiffness or reduced motion; swelling; and difficulty walking due to joint pain.

The most common forms of arthritis in the foot and ankle are:

Post Traumatic Arthritis

ankle arthritisThis type of arthritis typically develops after an injury to the foot or ankle. Remember that day you fractured your foot when you were 25? You’ll feel that pain again when you’re about 50, especially if you fractured one of the joints. This type of arthritis is similar to osteoarthritis and may develop years after a fracture, sprain, or ligament injury. An injured joint is seven times as likely to develop arthritis, even if it’s properly treated.

Osteoarthritis (Degenerative arthritis)

osteoarthritis of foot

Joints are formed by two bones which are held close together by ligaments and an outer covering known as a joint capsule. In order for the joints to move freely and without pain, the ends of the bones are covered in a softer material called cartilage and the lining of the joint capsule produces a lubricating substance called synovial fluid.

In arthritis, the cartilage starts to crack and erode, resulting in bone rubbing on bone. The body responds by creating extra bone at the edges of the joint to try and stop movement and thus symptoms. This is why arthritic joints often become enlarged.

This degeneration of the joint results in inflammation, swelling, and pain. Osteoarthritis progresses slowly and the pain and stiffness it causes worsens over time. Because the ability of cartilage to heal itself decreases as we age, elderly people are most likely to suffer from osteoarthritis. Other contributing factors are obesity and a family history of the disease.

Rheumatoid Arthritis
rheumatoid arthritis feet

Severe rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammatory disease where the patient’s own immune system attacks and destroys cartilage in many parts of the body. Unfortunately, the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known, but researchers believe that some people have genes that make them more susceptible. Women are three times as likely to suffer from RA than men are.

RA is much more erosive to the cartilage than Osteoarthritis, to the point that the bone is sometimes eroded completely, causing the joint to totally collapse. The disease typically begins with joints being swollen, warm, painful and stiff, particularly early in the morning on waking or following prolonged inactivity. Gentle movements may help to relieve symptoms. As the disease progresses the inflammatory activity leads to tendon tethering and erosion and destruction of the joint surface, which impairs range of movement and leads to deformity.

How your podiatrist relieves arthritis pain

Initial, non-surgical podiatric treatment may include

  • Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling
  • Shoe inserts (orthotics), such as pads or arch supports
  • Custom-made shoe, such as a stiff-soled shoe with a rocker bottom
  • An ankle-foot orthosis
  • A brace or a cane
  • Forefoot supports such as gel toe caps, gel toe shields, and gel toe straighteners
  • Physical therapy and exercises
  • Weight control
  • Steroid medication injected into the joint
  • Footwear with a wider toe box

If pain persists, surgical management may be suggested.

More information on the symptoms and treatment of arthritis can be found at  the Mayo Clinic website and Arthritis.org.

Hey, I could really use a little (arch) support

26 Mar
Podiatrist treating foot
Do you suffer pain in the arch of your foot? Knee pain? Lower back pain?

Have you raced off to the pharmacy to purchase the latest in arch supports from the foot department, only to come up short in the desired results department? What is real arch support and how does it help us?

Why you need arch supports

Arch supports are inserts (off the shelf) or orthotics (prescribed by your podiatrist) that fit the arch of your foot to lend it support and prevent the stretching and small tears in the plantar fascia (the ligament that runs the length of the foot). When stressed, this area becomes painful and inflamed. The most discomfort is apparent in the morning after a night’s rest. The ligament has contracted, and the first few steps in the morning can be painful as the ligament eases.

You are most apt to experience pain in the arch of your foot if you:
  • Are overweight
  • Spend long periods of time running walking or standing on hard surfaces
  • If your feet roll inward
  • Your calf muscles and tendons are too tight
How to treat arch pain
  • Ice the area for 20 minutes in the morning. If you have one of those neat rolling pins that allows you to put ice water in it, put that under the arch of your foot and roll it back and forth. If using an ice bag, do an application of cold first, then do the same type of rolling exercise using a rubber ball or tennis ball.
  • Rise up on toes as far as possible, hold for 5 seconds, and lower. Repeat 10 times on each foot.
  • Place the ball of your foot on wall at hip height. Lean forward until you feel the stretch in your foot, but not to the point that you add pain. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds, release and repeat 10 times on each foot.

You can try arch supports from your pharmacy, but they may not always be reliable. The combination of the exercises and arch support may be enough to give you relief, but if not, call Dr. Teichman for an appointment. Get the kind of support you really need.

 

New Plantar Fasciitis Treatment Could Relieve Foot Condition

1 Mar
English: Medical X-rays

Image via Wikipedia

Are you struggling with pain and inflammation caused by plantar fasciitis?  Have you tried to relieve the pain through cortisone treatments, but have not had much success?  Well you may be interested in a new treatment, which has been effective in treating extreme plantar fasciitis foot pain.  It is called “platelet-rich plasma” therapy and new medical studies have found this type of treatment has helped those individuals who suffer from plantar fasciitis, and have had little success with nonsurgical treatment.

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition, where the tissue that connects the heel bone to your toes and supports the arch of your foot, called the plantar fascia, becomes strained and creates extreme heel pain while standing or walking. Common treatments for the condition include rest, supportive shoes and orthotic inserts, or cortisone shots to help with mobility.

However, this newly found treatment takes on a different approach to healing, one that contradicts the common cortisone treatment.  Instead of using cortisone, a plasma and platelet enriched fluid is injected into the foot. These two substances help connect tissue growth and vascular healing, as well as promote inflammation. Subjects who received this therapy showed improvement with foot functioning just after four weeks, which remained consistent up to a year afterward.

This new treatment has some podiatrists hopeful to become widespread as a successful plantar fasciitis treatment alternative.   Mostly because of the lack of success common treatments used today have on people who suffer from the condition. Cortisone shots have become a debated topic as far as if the treatment is beneficial enough for the patient. The reason for questioning is because cortisone is degenerative. Although patients experience pain relief following injections, cortisone doesn’t help heal the strained tissue, and foot pain can return again in only a matter of weeks after treatment.

This new treatment study has yet to be fully medically acquired and approved, but researchers and doctors are hopeful that this injection can better benefit patients in the future by relieving pain that is caused by plantar fasciitis.
So what do you think?  Have you had success with cortisone shots in treating plantar fasciitis?  Would you be open to trying a new treatment?  Feel free to comment below, we would love to hear what you think.  If you have any questions, please contact PA Foot & Ankle Associates today!

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