Custom orthotics are removable shoe inserts that provide greater arch support and stability to the feet and ankles. There are different types of orthotics available depending on the issue and level of support that is needed. Basic orthotics are sold over the counter, but a custom pair designed specifically for your foot will provide optimal support and comfort.
When are Custom Orthotics Necessary?
Podiatrists typically recommend custom orthotics for people with flat feet, or very high arches. One of the most common signs that you may benefit from a pair of orthotics is heel pain (although you may also experience pain and swelling in other parts of the foot). You may also experience pain and swelling after normal and relatively low impact activities like standing or walking.
A good way to figure out if you are having pronation issues is to examine the soles of your shoes and sneakers. If the soles and insoles tend to become visibly more worn on one side, it may be a sign that your alignment is off and you are over or under pronating. A podiatrist may ask you to walk in your bare feet to observe your stride and gait (known as a gait analysis). If you experience persistent pain, swelling, or stiffness, especially after exercise or after long periods of rest, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist.
Types of Custom Orthotics
There are a few different types of custom orthotics designs available depending on your needs.
Functional (also known as rigid) orthotics are made of harder materials and are usually prescribed for pronation problems or joint issues like arthritis.
Accommodative orthotics are designed to provide more cushioning and support and are typically prescribed for problems like plantar fasciitis and bunions.
In addition to improving your gait and foot and ankle alignment, custom orthotics can help to prevent related strains and injuries and relieve back, joint, and knee pain if it is caused by issues with your arches and pronation.
Arthritis is a joint condition that affects roughly 54 million American adults according to the Arthritis Foundation. It can show up in joints all around the body, including the feet and toes. When the joints of the feet are affected by inflammation, it affects a patient’s ability to move their toes, bend their feet up or down, and turn on a dime when participating in athletic activities. Learn the steps that you can take to care for arthritic feet and improve your overall foot health.
Arthritis in the Feet
Arthritic joint pain, which is usually caused by an inflammatory reaction, is most commonly felt in the big toe, ankle, and the middle part of the foot. There are many different types of arthritis conditions that could affect the feet, including psoriatic, reactive, and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form—it is caused by the bones rubbing together, making the joints feel stiff and painful. Patients who are overweight are more likely to struggle with arthritic feet, as are seniors. Some people have had arthritis since childhood (juvenile arthritis or JA), making them more likely to develop foot deformities like bunions and struggle with swollen joints.
Though arthritis isn’t a curable condition, the symptoms can be eased with treatment so that you can continue to walk, jog, exercise, and work without debilitating pain. These are some of the ways your podiatrist may treat arthritis in the feet:
- An X-ray or other imaging test to examine the condition of the joints.
- Physical therapy exercises to make the joints more flexible.
- Orthotic device or shoe for better foot support.
- Joint injections (corticosteroids).
- NSAID drugs (anti-inflammatories).
- Surgery to remove inflamed tissue around the joints (Arthroscopic debridement) or fuse the bones (arthrodesis).
Caring for Your Feet
Seeing a foot doctor is an important part of caring for arthritic feet. But there are also some actions you can take at home to keep your feet and joints in good condition:
- Get rid of shoes that put too much pressure on your joints, like high heels or sneakers that don’t support the ankles.
- Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt and massage your feet when relaxing.
- Commit to doing the toe and foot exercises suggested by your podiatrist.
Treating Arthritic Feet
Arthritic feet shouldn't prevent you from carrying on with normal life and physical activities. Get help from a podiatrist as soon as you start to experience symptoms and take extra steps to care for your feet.
A foot blister is a small pocket of fluid that forms on the foot. Blisters can be painful while they heal. Foot blisters are caused by several things, including friction, burns, contact with irritants, and autoimmune diseases. Treatment can alleviate your pain, prevent infection, and help heal your blister. Here's what to do when you keep getting blisters on your feet.
1. See a podiatrist- When foot blisters interfere with your normal activities, you should see a podiatrist. Podiatrists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems, including blisters. Depending on the cause of the foot blister, your podiatrist will form a treatment plan for you.
2. Cover your blisters- If a blister does occur, do not pop it. A blister should be covered to reduce irritation and cut back on the risk of infection. Wash your blisters with soap and water and cover them with dressings, like bandages or gauze pads. Your dressings should be changed every day.
3. Use antibiotic ointment- Antibiotic ointment helps prevent infections in blisters. You can purchase antibiotic ointment at a local pharmacy. Apply antibiotic ointment to the foot blisters as directed, especially before you put on your socks or shoes.
4. Keep your feet dry- Keep your feet dry at all times. After you shower, dry your feet thoroughly. Wear socks every day to keep moisture away from the skin of your feet. For sweaty feet, use products that help control moisture.
5. Use custom orthotics- Orthotic devices are molded pieces of rubber, leather, or other material that are inserted into shoes. You can get custom-made orthotic devices from your podiatrist. Orthotic devices can be helpful in preventing and treating foot blisters. Orthotic devices can reduce friction on foot blisters and alleviate your pain.
6. Wear the right shoes- Rubbing and pressure from shoes that are too tight often cause blisters on the feet. Avoid wearing shoes that cause foot blisters. Wear good-fitting footwear that fit comfortably and leave your feet with some wiggle room, especially on long walks or runs. Wearing the right footwear can prevent future blisters.
7. Use foot powders- Friction can make foot blisters worse and increase your pain. In order to reduce friction on blisters, buy a powder designed for your feet at a pharmacy. Pour it into your socks before putting on your shoes to reduce pain. If a powder causes your foot blisters to become irritated, stop using it.
Don't let foot blisters knock you off your feet. Find a podiatrist in your area and schedule an appointment. A podiatrist can help you get rid of those foot blisters once and for all. The journey to healthy feet starts with you!
Bunions are a condition that we see often at New England Foot & Ankle Specialists. The bony protuberance forms on the outside of the base of the big toe as a result of the big toe moving out of place and toward the second toe. As the bunion grows larger, it causes increasing friction and irritation from footwear and the more inflamed the joint becomes. Over time, bursitis or arthritis may develop in the joint and corns or calluses may also form as a result of the ongoing pressure on particular points of the foot caused by the bunion. Bunions are progressive and cannot be eliminated completely accept by surgery.
How Bad is It?
First, you’ll need to make an appointment at our Reading office (781) 944-4044) so that one of our podiatrists: Dr. George A. Abboud, Dr. Brian D. Tedesco, Dr. Carl Conui, Dr. Kimberly Thurmond or Dr. Dennis Tuck can examine your bunion and take a complete medical history. X-rays or other imaging studies may also be needed to fully evaluate your bunion. The foot doctor may suggest other treatment options first, including:
Orthotic devices to help correct the positioning of the foot and stabilize the joint
Protective padding to help limit friction and rubbing from shoes
Night splints to align toes and joints
Exercises that will prevent stiffness, maintain joint mobility and increase range of motion
If none of these options brings relief or if the size of the enlargement or the extent of the deformity is too severe, the foot doctor may recommend surgery, known as a bunionectomy. A bunionectomy may be necessary to prevent more severe damage from occurring or to stop a bunion from leading to permanent disability.
There are multiple types of bunion surgeries. Expected results and recovery time will vary. If surgery is the recommended treatment for your bunion, be sure you understand fully the procedure and what to expect after surgery. If you have questions, contact us at: (781) 944-4044.
With Halloween right around the corner, things are starting to look pretty spooky, with witches on brooms, black cats and ghoulishly grinning jack-o-lanterns perched on every front porch. Footcare, however, should not be frightening! At New England Foot & Ankle Specialists we recognize that medical jargon can make a condition sound more alarming than it actually is. Our podiatrists: Dr. George A. Abboud, Dr. Brian D. Tedesco, Dr. Carl Conui, Dr. Kimberly Thurmond and Dr. Dennis Tuck will always try to explain your foot issues in a way that is easy to understand. If you have questions, just ask. Below are three conditions whose names make them sound a lot more serious than they actually are:
Xerosis—is the medical term for very dry skin. Common causes are showering more than once a day, using very hot water when bath or using laundry detergents or soaps that contain ingredients that dry the skin. Using a rich moisturizer a few times a day will usually eliminate the problem.
Tinea Pedis—you know this condition as Athlete’s foot. Symptoms include itchy, red, dry skin, especially between the toes. Left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the feet and even cause oozing blisters to form. The best way to prevent this irritating disorder is to not go barefoot in public places since the fungal infection is spread by direct contact.
Onychomycosis—is more commonly known as a fungal toenail infection. Typically, the nail will get thick and brittle and even start to crumble at the edges. It also will turn a darker color. Like athlete’s foot, fungal nail infections are the result of coming directly into contact with the fungus—sharing footwear, walking barefoot in a public place or using a footbath at a nail salon that has not been properly sanitized are all possible ways the infection could be spread.
What’s important to remember is that anytime you notice something unusual or uncomfortable with your toes, feet or ankles it’s best to make an appointment at our Reading office to get it evaluated. Little problems can grow into bigger problems if not treated promptly.
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