Here’s the thing about feet: because they are your foundation, problems that start there tend not to stay there.
In fact, if you’ve been struggling with unexplained pain in your knees, hips, or even lower back, there’s a very real chance that your feet are at least partially to blame—especially if foot pain is also one of your common symptoms.
Not sure how that could possibly be true? Let’s dig a little deeper.
If Your Feet Are Unstable, the Rest of Your Body May Pay the Price
Back when you were in school, we’re guessing you had more than one experience with the dreaded slacker group project partner. While you were busy hitting the books, constructing models and drafting the report, he or she was fully committed to such essential tasks as cleaning fingernails or folding paper airplanes.
(Maybe you were that slacker. Hopefully that’s all in the past!)
Anyway, when one member of a group isn’t pulling their weight, the rest end up shouldering a lot more stress and strain. That goes for parts of your body, too.
Although when we’re talking about the feet, a more useful analogy in this case might be the foundation of a home, rather than the project partner from the underworld. If you’ve ever lived in a home with foundation problems, you know the symptoms: sticking windows, cracking walls and ceilings, and other potentially serious (and expensive) structural failures.
Literally your entire body rests on top of your feet, and depends on them for their stability and healthy function. Feet that are not structured properly, not moving properly, or are just generally out of alignment force every other muscle and joint above to shift and compensate accordingly. The worse the foot misalignment is, the greater the strain on knees, hips, back, and elsewhere.
That’s why pain won’t stay in one place. But the good news is that fixing your foundation may be easier than you think—certainly more so than fixing foundation problems in a building!
When Feet Are Out of Position, Orthotics Are Usually the Answer
At this point in the story, you might be afraid that major reconstructive surgery is the only way to put your house back in order. While this might be an option in certain cases, a lot of the time a set of orthotics is really going to be the best choice.
Orthotics are kind of like glasses or contacts, but for your feet instead of your eyes. Obviously, they work in very different ways, but they can both be fairly described as tools that, when worn, allow an imperfect body part to perform like one that works properly.
Glasses, of course, work by bending incoming light in such a way that, by the time it goes through both sets of lenses (the glasses and your eyeball) and hits your retina, it’s properly focused and clear.
Orthotics work by supporting your arch, cushioning your heel, and—for those situations that require it—repositioning your feet and controlling awkward joint motion to restore a biomechanically correct posture and walking gait.
Just like glasses come in many different prescriptions to suit the nature and severity of your vision problem, custom orthotics can be made in many different shapes and from many materials to best suit the needs of your feet.
That said, if your feet are truly out of alignment and it’s causing pain in your knees and back, you are probably going to need something a little more rigid, like a plastic or graphite orthotic. (That doesn’t mean they won’t still be comfortable—we promise!) Soft orthotics made from silicone or rubber have their uses, but tend to be best suited for conditions like diabetic ulcers, foot arthritis, or milder conditions that really only require extra shock absorption (as opposed to firm support and realignment).
Do I Really Need Custom Orthotics? Aren’t the Orthotics at the Pharmacy Good Enough?
Unfortunately, cushioned insoles purchased off the pharmacy rack are almost always going to be woefully insufficient, especially if the pain and alignment problems have climbed out of your feet and entered the legs and back. They are really for relieving mild foot pain only—they just aren’t built to correct biomechanical problems.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need custom orthotics, however. At Carmel Foot Specialists, we also carry a good selection of high-quality, medical grade prefabricated orthotics in stock and can match them to your foot shape and needs. For many people, these carefully selected prefabs will give them sufficient pain relief—and for about the same price that you’d expect to pay for a set of decent insoles at the pharmacy.
Still, for significant mechanical imbalances in feet, custom orthotics are usually the way to go. We’ll get a precise mold of your feet in the office, then send that (along with our diagnoses and notes) to the lab for fabrication. Your orthotics should be ready in a few weeks.
Don’t worry, though! We’re confident that your custom orthotics will help significantly reduce pain throughout your musculoskeletal system. And there are numerous other advantages to wearing custom devices as well. For one, they tend to be a lot more durable than prefabs, and in some cases a single pair can last 5 years or more!
Whatever type of orthotics you need, we’ll make sure you get them so you can start feeling better. Call either of our conveniently located offices to schedule your next appointment!
- Myers Park: (704) 334-8682
- South Charlotte: (704) 542-8253