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Foot Pain

Q. Can bow legs, knock knees, “pigeon-toes” (internal leg rotation), “duck feet” (external leg rotation), and short-leg syndrome cause foot and back problems?

A. Yes. These are called “external stresses” and can produce hyper-pronation (flat feet) and hyper-supination (high-arched feet) orthotics can be very effective in counteracting these stresses. Short leg syndrome is a common cause of mechanical foot problems. Generally, foot symptoms are most severe on the “long leg” side. The most frequent problems encountered are: an externally rotated lower extremity (which helps shorten the leg during the stride), hallux valgus often with a bunion forming at the first joint of the great toe. This occurs as a result of biomechanical stressors forcing the distal part of the toe outward (lateral) and the joint inward (medial) resulting in a painful bunion. Hyper-pronation ensues as the foot turns out during the weight transfer portion of the walk cycle, stressing and flattening the longitudinal arch. Short leg syndrome requires accurate and prompt diagnosis. Corrective treatment usually requires manipulative therapy involving the pelvic regions, in addition to a lift therapy prescription. With short leg syndrome, the orthotics are constructed to accommodate an appropriate lift therapy as part of the orthotic device on the short leg side.

Q. Does excess weight cause or aggravate foot problems?

A. Definitely. Additional stress on feet magnifies existing imbalances and increases symptoms. Anyone with excessive body weight can benefit from orthotics. In a personal orthotic prescription, patient height and weight as well as the depth and breadth of both trans­verse and longitudinal foot arches are taken into consideration. The tensile strength of the orthotic device is modified to support to the foot’s natural arches, yet contains enough give or spring to maintain normal function of the arches and encourage intrinsic foot muscle action and conditioning.

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