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Using Orthotics to Correct Painful Foot Conditions

by Dr. Damon Hays  |  March 18, 2010

Modern Americans seem to be spending more and more time on their feet.  The American Podiatric Association has reported that the average American takes between 8,000 and 10,000 steps every day.  This rate, spread over a lifetime, would allow each person to circle the globe four times over.

It makes sense, then, that foot pain has become an increasing complaint among adult Americans.  This can prove challenging partly because the human foot is an incredibly complex structure, made up of 26 bones each.  These bones, when considered in total, make up one quarter of the bones found in our bodies.

One of the first strategies for preventing or treating foot pain is the selection of appropriate footwear.  There are many options available that do not crowd the feet and that provide appropriate arch support.  However, even when people do take every precaution in selecting footwear, painful foot conditions may nonetheless develop or worsen.  At that point, it may be necessary to consider using orthotics.

Orthotics are mechanical devices that are used to correct deformities and other painful foot conditions.  They have been proven to not only stabilize the gait, but also to align the feet and relieve  areas of pressure that cause the most common forms of foot pain.  Some of the more common conditions that orthotics are used to treat include:

Plantar fasciitis and other forms of heel pain;

Metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of the foot);

Weak or chronically injured ankles;

Hammertoes, corns, and painful calluses;

Pain originating in the knees, hips, back and neck.

There are many different kinds of orthotic devices that are available.  Some of the more common orthoses are those purchased over-the-counter at any drugstore or supermarket.  Although these more common devices, which are very commonly constructed of rubber or soft plastic and filled with a gel cushion, do sometimes provide relief to those who experience chronic foot and ankle pain, only prescription-grade orthoses provide individualized corrections based on the unique physiology associated with your foot.

Hays Foot and Ankle Center has partnered with PedAlign, an industry leader in custom orthoses, to provide patients with the best orthotic devices currently available.  Using an infrared digital technology, the feet are scanned in order to provide patients with orthotic devices that are designed to address their individual foot care needs.

Gone are the days when these devices were bulky nuisances that made it impossible to wear the shoes that best fit your lifestyle.  Orthoses are available for those with more active lifestyles, those who play sports, and those whose professional workday requires a more slim and fashionable shoe.

As an added benefit, many insurance companies cover at least a portion of the costs of orthotic devices, so there’s no reason to put off addressing your chronic foot and ankle pain, so that you’re able to make your next step a healthy one.

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