“Since you fit me with orthotics, I feel great!” It's a common comment we get after clients start wearing their new orthotics. Their feet are now supported in neutral, and the ground forces are now distributed evenly across their foot.
Orthotics can help the client who feels like “he's walking on a pebble.” Two conditions may be the cause of this.
In the heel, this may be due to a heel spur. Any heel pain should first be assessed for plantar fasciitis, but a heel spur is a differential diagnosis. Once plantar fasciitis is ruled out, an x-ray can confirm a heel spur. A heel spur is literally a spike of bone that grows out of the calcaneous and looks like a the end of a tack on the x-ray. Ouch!
Walking on a heel spur is literally walking on a tack. Once inflammation is added, the heel can get very tender to touch. Unless they are very large, nothing will be done about the spur, but orthotics can make all the pain go away. An orthotic provides a dipped space for the spur. Now every step cushions the heel spur, and almost immediately, the pain is better. Inflammation is reduced once pressure is taken off that site. Unless one walks consistently on the spur in the future, it becomes easy to forget there ever was a problem.
Dropped Metatarsal Head
The second condition is similar, and feels like there is a pebble in the ball of the foot. This may be due to a dropped metatarsal head, the place where the bones of your toes meet your foot bones. Sometimes due to trauma or ligament laxity, this joint is weakened, and gravity pulls down the head of the tarsal bone. It literally feels like a pebble to touch. If this condition has been present for a long time, there may be a callus or a corn there, due to increased weight bearing on this site.
Sometimes a Chiropractic adjustment can put this joint back into proper alignment and there is immediate relief. In cases where the ligament won't hold the joint in position, or osteoarthritis is preventing movement, an orthotic can help. Either a metatarsal pad can be added to distribute the weight evenly across the foot, or a cut out can be added for that site. Either way, the ground forces are directed away from that lowest joint, allowing for relief and comfort.
If you suffer from foot pain, orthotics may be able to help! See Dr. Welham for an assessment and a fitting.