The Foot Pain Identifier

foot pain

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This foot pain identifier information is important.  People rarely acknowledge how important their feet are to their everyday life. Well, that is until they experience foot pain themselves!  Just think about it, you use your feet to:

  • Stand
  • Pivot
  • Jump
  • Turn
  • Step
  • Dance
  • Walk
  • Run

Even just to keep your balance.  But when you experience foot pain, these seemingly simple functions can become quite challenging.

Plantar fasciitis is the most common type of foot pain.  The plantar fascia is a layer of connective tissue on the bottom or sole of the foot. It provides support to the foot’s arch and plays a major role in the function and mechanics of walking or running.

Foot Pain Identifier – Feel The Burn!

Foot pain can have quite a few causes.  However, the most common (as detailed at medicinenet.com) for foot pain are:

Plantar fasciitis is also the most common cases we see at the clinic. When plantar fascia is relaxed, the toes are pointed down and the foot is in the “plantar flexed” position.

Conversely, the plantar fascia is tight and undergoes tension when the toes and foot are pointed upwards, “dorsi flexed.”  When this tension persists, the plantar fascia can become irritated and develop “burning-like” symptoms at the bottom of the foot.

The most specific problem area tends to be close to the heel.  The heel bone or calcaneus provides the foundation at the rear of the foot. This is also the origin point of the plantar fascia.

heal pain

Pain In The Heel

A cardinal symptom of plantar fasciitis is a sharp pain in the heel which is usually experienced when you take your first steps in the morning.  Remember, your foot is typically in a restful state (plantar flexion) throughout the night while you sleep.  Therefore, when you arise, there is a sudden jolt of tension shot into the plantar fascia as it is quickly stretched.  As such, it can make for a very painful start to the day.

In this case, specific stretches can be performed each morning before getting out of bed to help alleviate these symptoms.

Click here to read What You Should NOT Do if You Suffer From Numbness and Tingling.

foot pain identifier

Factors Of Plantar Fasciitis

The name of the diagnosis is kind of a misnomer as any diagnosis that ends with the word “itis” usually indicates the condition involves significant inflammation.  However, in actuality, there is research to both support and negate the relationship that inflammation actually has with this condition.

Poor foot position or posture is really the most common factor of this condition.  In most cases it is due to being flat footed or over pronation of their foot when walking.  Flat footed people are overusing their muscle at the bottom of the plantar fascia. Usually until it becomes irritated, causing plantar fasciitis.  Keep in mind, this is something that can happen at any age and is very common.

Plantar fasciitis doesn’t tend to discriminate and is usually associated with poor postural habits and lifestyle.  This condition is also common with increased activity and repetitive strain.  Transitioning to new footwear can also trigger plantar fasciitis resulting in the soft tissue breaking down.  Also, accumulative effects of gravity over time, along with weight gain can also precipitate plantar fasciitis.

Conservative care might include:

  • Frequent icing
  • Wearing a supportive slipper around the house
  • Night brace
  • Taping
foot scan

Prevention For Foot Pain

Prevention is best achieved through properly functioning feet.  So, supportive footwear is critical. Therefore, I strongly recommend getting a foot scan and examination by an appropriate healthcare provider to determine if custom orthotics are necessary.

Click here to read, How To Choose The Best Running Shoes – Part 1.

Because this condition has become such a buzzword, many people are misdiagnosed by their healthcare providers as other conditions, which cause similar symptoms need to be excluded. These include:

  • A stress fracture
  • Bursitis
  • Neuritis
  • Contusion of the calcaneus
  • Nerve entrapment

The most important thing here is to find the right healthcare practitioner who will conduct a thorough consultation and examination in order to achieve an accurate diagnosis.

Here’s to you putting your best foot forward.

You’re one step closer!

For additional information and at home stretches click here to read CORRECTIVE EXERCISES FOR RELIEVING FOOT PAIN.

References:
  1. Plantar Fasciitis – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1788446/
  2. Plantar Warts – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3951039/
  3. Ingrown Toenails – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22565427/

Custom Orthotics vs Over The Counter – Is There Really A Difference?

custom orthotics

The first step taken in the morning can tell you a lot more about the spine than you think. Any degree of stiffness or discomfort that you experience when your feet hit the floor can be indicative of an irregular posture, walking gait or misalignment in the spine.

The feet in a sense, are the window to the spine. When the pain starts in the feet at the foundation, it can, and often time does creep up through the weight bearing joints which then makes it to our low back. It can show up initially as a number of different conditions, such as: 

However, these are just a few of the diagnoses. All in which may be a sign that it’s time to take a closer look at what’s happening below. 

Did You Know?

“External rotation of the foot during running reduced the loads on the medial compartment of the knee.” –Journal of Sports Science & Medicine

Click here to read, “Acute Effects of Foot Rotation in Healthy Adults during Running on Knee Moments and Lateral-Medial Shear Force”.

foot pain

So How Do You Know? 

If you’re not already experiencing the clear signs of low back or foot pain, try this simple test. The next time you’re putting on your shoes, take a second to turn them over and look at the soles. What do you see? Where are they worn out?  “What are the bottoms of your shoes telling you?”.

Well, if your shoes are worn mostly in the middle of the heel and under the 1st and 2nd toe, you’re part of the minority that has a correct and NEUTRAL gait. These two spots indicate that you’re going through the motions of heel strike and toe off appropriately. 

If your shoes are worn mostly in the middle of the heel to the inside of your heel and primarily under the big toe, you are part of the 90% of the population that PRONATES (to some degree!). In simpler terms, this means that your feet and more noticeably your ankles lean inwards when you walk or stand. 

If your shoes are worn under the outside edge of the heel and near your pinky toe, you are part of the 3-7% of the population the SUPINATES– this is way more rare! Simply put, your feet and your ankles, lean outwards when you walk or stand. 

Click here to read, “How To Choose The Right Running Shoes – Part 1”and “How To Choose The Right Running Shoes – Part 2”.

foot scan
foot impression

So What Should You Do? 

Alleviating foot discomfort and associated stress to the low back is all about giving the feet the support they need. That’s where CUSTOM ORTHOTICS come into play! Custom orthotics are inserts that are created to cater to the needs of YOUR feet. Unlike store solutions, (ie. Dr. Scholl’s gel inserts) custom orthotics are made from a more rigid material that is based off the shape of your foot (literally a scan or foam cast of your foot is used!) to reshape and incorporate support where you need it.

Modifications can be made to address every part of the foot and the pain associated. Pressure can be taken off the heels. The arch can be reshaped. They can also cushion the toes amongst many other changes. But most importantly, with the right support, you are able to keep your feet, ankles, knees hips and low back in the RIGHT anatomical position. 

How Do I Get The Right Orthotics?

Orthotics can be prescribed and fabricated by a number of physicians, including your chiropractor. BUT be weary! Even custom orthotics can be made incorrectly. Here are some tips to optimize your orthotics and their wear: 

  1. Don’t Rock The Boat – A neutral rearfoot post should be included at the back of your orthotic to keep it from moving from side to side in your shoe. This also allows for a more comfortable wear in the shoe. 
  2. Let Your Orthotics Do The Heeling – Your heels deserve to be noticed too. A “hole in heel” feature will take pressure off your heels. 
  3. Level Them Out – If your doctor finds a leg length discrepancy, you can have a heel lift added to your orthotic to compensate for the difference in height on that side. It’s a great idea to keep you equal and to ensure a proper gait. 
  4. You Can Mix It Up – You don’t have to restrict your orthotic to only one pair of shoes. It’s recommended you do wear them in your most used shoes. For example your gym or work shoe. However you can move them around. Ask your doctor about a sulcus length orthotic that is shorter. This makes it easier to more around.