The foot is a complex piece of bio-engineering. Each foot consists of 26 bones (one-quarter of all the bones in the body), 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles.
Each day we take around 8,000 – 10,000 steps, and with every step, each foot supports up to two-times bodyweight. We run on our feet, dance on them, and kick footballs with them. We squash them into all kinds of shoes, some too short, some too narrow, and some with very high heels! Is it any wonder that over 90% of us experience a serious foot problem at some time during our lives?
It’s incredible to think that we walk an average of 115,000 miles in ofur lifetimes. – the equivalent of over 4 times the circumference of the earth!
The fact is, many of us are born with minor structural and mechanical foot defects, which cause our feet to function incorrectly: and unfortunately injury or disease (e.g .. arthritis) may also create mechanical problems leading to disability and pain. When our foot structure and function is compromised our feet cannot cope with the day-to-day stresses placed upon them and that’s when they begin to hurt.
Research has shown that poor foot function may cause abnormal stress on other structures such as the ankle, shin, knee, hip, and lower back. Yes, that’s right, your back pain may be due to your “flat feet,” and simple foot supports may bring significant relief of pain!
Treatment & Conditions
There is no such thing as “growing pains.” If your child’s feet and legs hurt, bring them in for a consultation as soon as possible. Common children’s problems include:
- flat feet
- early bunions
- curly toes
- tip-toe and pigeon-toe walking
- knock knees
- muscles cramps at nightc
Research has shown that flat feet may be the cause of many foot and leg problems including:
- heel pain
- arch pain
- early arthritis of the knees and hips
- low-back pain
Treatment for flat feet is easy, inexpensive, and effective using simple, “off-the-shelf” foot supports specifically designed to support young, growing feet, along with supportive shoes and perhaps arch support flip-flops or sandals. Early treatment can stop future adult foot deformity.
Although arch strain, shin splints, knee, hip, and back pain may all be caused by over-training, there is strong research evidence to suggest that poor foot structure and function during sport may cause excessive strain to the tendons, ligaments, and joints of the lower limb. Advanced computer technology is used to evaluate foot structure and function, and custom-made foot orthotic devices (called “orthotics”) treat the biomechanical cause of the Injury and not just the symptoms. Changes to training routines, strengthening and stretching exercise programmes, and treating the symptoms with appropriate anti-inflammatory modalities are also an important part of the overall treatment approach for the injured athlete.
The Active Elderly
Along with diseases such as osteoarthritis, the general aging process causes the feet to become less flexible and less able to cope with the forces of standing and walking. Foot strain is a common problem in the active elderly, as are toe deformities such as bunions and hammertoes with associated painful corns and calluses. The gentle removal of painful corns and calluses often gives only temporary relief of symptoms. However, the provision of foot supports, and sometimes surgery to correct bunions and hammertoes gives lasting relief from foot pain and disability, which means the elderly can continue to lead an active and healthy life.
Patients with Diabetes should have regular foot health care checkups -usually every year – to avoid complications such as ulcers and infections. A normal check-up includes an assessment of both the circulation and the development of nerve damage called “neuropathy,” which causes a combination of numbness and pain in the feet.
Bunions- a large prominence on the inside of the big toe joint- and hammertoes are the most common toe deformities that give rise to problems with shoe fit, pain, and disability in all age groups. Surgery is the only successful way to straighten the toes and to provide long-term relief of symptoms. The surgery for bunions and hammer toes may be performed under local anesthetic, and usually takes around 30-90 minutes in the operating room.