Foot Pain: If the Shoe Fits…If Not, Orthotics May Help
It is estimated that 75% of Americans will experience some type of foot problems during their lives. Many mistakenly believe that foot problems, discomfort and pain are a normal part of life and that seeking relief or treatment is a waste of both time and money – not to mention a risky fashion proposition.
The truth is, improperly-fitting shoes, which can cause bunions, corns, calluses, hammertoes, and other disabling foot problems, are a huge public health risk in the U.S. The other undeniable reality is that there is something that can be done to not only slow the progression of foot problems but eliminate foot pain altogether.
One in six, or 43.1 million, people in the U.S. have foot problems. Thirty-six percent regard their foot problems as serious enough to warrant medical attention.
The cost of foot surgery to correct foot problems from tight-fitting shoes is $2 billion a year. If time off from work for the surgery and recovery is included, the cost is $3.5 billion.
A study conducted by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society found that:
- Nine out of 10 women are wearing shoes that are too small for their feet.
- Eight out of 10 women say their shoes are painful.
- More than seven out of 10 women have developed a bunion, hammertoe, or other painful foot deformity.
- Women are nine times more likely to develop a foot problem because of improper fitting shoes than a man.
- Nine out of 10 women’s foot deformities can be attributed to tight shoes.
Custom-molded orthotics are individually designed shoe inserts or ankle braces. Orthotic devices like these are frequently used to treat various conditions of the foot and ankle. They are often very effective in relieving common complaints.
Orthotic devices may be recommended for several reasons, including:
- Aligning and supporting the foot or ankle.
- Preventing, correcting or accommodating foot deformities.
- Improving the overall function of the foot or ankle.
A wedge inserted into the inner (medial) side of the sole of a shoe can be used to help support a flat foot, thus reducing the risk of tendinitis. An ankle-foot brace can help relieve the pain of rheumatoid arthritis in the heel or ankle. A heel flare can be used to increase support and help prevent ankle sprains. Heel cushions can help absorb impact and relieve stress on the heel and ankle when you walk or run.
Now, computerized foot analysis is often used to develop orthotics that more accurately reflect the dynamics of your gait.
Many strides have been made over the years in the fitting and design of custom orthotic solutions for those suffering from foot pain. Even if you have looked into these options as little as a few years ago, it is worth taking a second look. New materials and advanced ergonomic solutions await your careful exploration. Ask your podiatrist or orthopedic device specialist today about what may work for you.