Podiatrists play a major role in managing painful foot conditions. The majority of patients who present for foot care are motivated by a desire to eliminate or reduce a painful condition. In essence, we are pain management specialists, albeit in a very different way.
Not all feet are created equal! Some feet seem to take much abuse without complaining, many are not so lucky. Some people have sore feet in spite of wearing comfortable shoes and only moderate levels of activity. Ill-fitting or improper shoes may cause foot discomfort. However, the foot itself may be the problem. The human foot contains about 26 bones and numerous joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. It is a complex structure which isn’t always ideally suited to weight-bearing and walking/running. We all have unique feet, and place unique demands upon them. The average person takes about 5000 steps a day, and walks 50,000 miles in a lifetime! Our lifestyle, what shoes we wear and how active we are, clearly affect our risk of foot problems. The young foot is more resilient, and may easily recover from minor injuries. Wear and tear eventually take their toll, and tissues lose their ability to fully recover. Hence, foot complaints become more prevalent as we age.
Your general health may adversely affect your feet. Some common examples are; diabetes, arthritis, poor circulation, stroke, and osteoporosis. In fact, your podiatrist may be the first to recognize a serious health problem from an examination of your feet. Obesity may adversely affect your feet. Some types of heel and arch problems are more prevalent among overweight persons.
All feet are different, but most fall into three basic types:
- “Normal” (Rectus) Foot- Structure and alignment of the foot are well configured for the demands of daily living. Excessive wear, exceptional demands or improper shoes can make this foot injured or painful.
- High Arched (Supinated) Foot – This type of foot is poor at absorbing shock. These people are prone to problems of the entire lower extremity and back. Such feet often develop severely clawed toes and extensive plantar calluses.
- Flat (Pronated) Feet – This is one of the more common problems treated by the podiatrist. These people are prone to develop tired feet, arch strain, arthritis, and various structural deformities.
Foot pain has a multitude of causes. Your podiatrist can assess your problem, and treat it appropriately. If your foot problem has a mechanical origin, he or she may recommend functional foot orthotics. These are special supports that may compensate for structural problems, and eliminate or reduce discomfort.