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If you’re feeling the (foot) pain, orthotics might be the solution

  • Category: Podiatry
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If you’re feeling the (foot) pain, orthotics might be the solution

If you’ve ever reached the end of the day and thought, “Oh, my aching feet,” you aren’t alone. Foot problems are a common complaint, but specially designed devices to properly align the foot and ankle, called orthotics, may ease pressure and provide support.

You can experience foot pain for a variety of reasons, including aging, being on your feet for long periods, wearing poorly fitting shoes, being overweight or having an injury. The most common reason, though, may be related to the structural anatomy of your feet.

Learn more as the University Medical Center New Orleans team walks you through some common foot problems and how orthotics can help.

Common problems with the feet

Foot pain can be felt in all parts of the feet, including the heel, toes, arch, instep or sole. As mentioned above, injuries are sometimes the cause of foot pain. For example, sprains, broken bones in the foot or ankle, stress fractures or Achilles tendonitis can contribute to pain felt in some part of the feet.

Medical conditions can also lead to foot pain. Arthritis, particularly a type called gout, can cause swelling and tenderness in the big toe. Nerve damage from diabetes can cause foot pain, and people with diabetes may also experience foot ulcers.

If an injury or medical condition cause your pain, a medical provider can offer treatment options to heal the underlying cause and treat pain.

When variations in the anatomy of the foot are the cause of your pain, your provider may recommend orthotics.

Common signs you need orthotics

You may benefit from orthotics if you have:

  • Difficulty keeping your balance
  • Foot pain or swelling
  • Frequent falls
  • Intense or worsening heel pain
  • Knee and hip pain caused by the feet
  • Shoes that are unevenly worn down

Orthotics can also alleviate foot pain caused by anatomical problems, such as:

  • Bunions
  • Corns and calluses
  • Fallen arches (also called flat feet)
  • Hammertoes
  • High arches
  • Plantar fasciitis

Talk with your primary care provider about what you’re experiencing. Your provider may refer you to a foot and ankle specialist or recommend custom orthotics or over-the-counter products.

How orthotics can help with foot pain

There are different types of orthotics, and the type you’ll need depends on what’s causing your foot problems.

In cases of minor foot pain, you may be able to use over-the-counter inserts for your shoes that will help support and cushion your feet. Shoe inserts, such as arch supports or rigid orthotics, can often help reduce pain, and a specialty shoe store can help you find the right type for your needs.

If your pain is severe or chronic, you may want to invest in custom orthotics. While these devices are more expensive than the inserts you can find in stores, they are typically made to last longer and are more supportive. Prescription orthotics can be especially beneficial since they are specific to your feet.

Both types of orthotics can help provide relief by correcting alignment and providing support to the feet. The key is to talk with a medical provider to determine what’s causing your discomfort, then look for devices specifically designed to alleviate that problem.

If you are ready to find out if it’s a foot injury instead of just uncomfortable shoes, schedule a primary care appointment at University Medical Center New Orleans.