Orthotics are specially designed devices that are worn inside the shoe to control abnormal foot function and/or accommodate painful areas of the foot. Properly designed foot orthotics may compensate for impaired foot function by controlling abnormal motion across the joints of the foot and subsequently abnormal movement in ankles, knees, back, and hips. This may result in dramatic improvement in several joint and back-related symptoms. The orthotics your chiropractor provides are custom-made for your feet and modified to suit your particular needs. Proper orthotics can only be prescribed after a thorough assessment by highly trained chiropractors.
Pronation is a very common foot problem. Some foot bones drop to a less stable position if the foot arches are too weak to keep them properly aligned. The arches may be unnaturally stretched (“flat feet”), increasing stress. Another common problem is plantar fasciitis, a stress irritation to the elastic tissues running nearly the entire length of the foot. Heel spurs — deposits of calcium on the heel bone — are another common problem. If untreated, feet can become “tired and achy” or hurt.
Unlike simple arch supports, posed functional orthotics control abnormal position and movement of the foot. While standing or walking the heel and midfoot are held in a more stable position. This allows the foot to function more efficiently during weight-bearing and propulsion. This control is often accomplished by limiting abnormal pronation of the foot. Pronation is a complex movement involving eversion (turning out) of the heel and forefoot. There is a corresponding internal rotation (turning in) of the lower leg and flattening of the arch. Ligaments become strained, and muscles overwork attempting to pull the foot into a more stable position. By controlling abnormal pronation, functional orthotics help prevent some of the complications of the chronically unstable foot.
Depending upon your specific condition, your chiropractor can probably provide you with a non-surgical treatment program to help you feel and function better. He or she may first want to perform a complete examination. This might include examining your feet, analyzing your gait and posture, taking x-rays, and checking your shoes for improper wear.