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Chronic Foot & Ankle Pain: Can a Pedorthist Help?

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Are you someone who experiences chronic pain in your feet or ankles? Perhaps the pain is a result of an injury, or perhaps the cause of the pain is unknown to you. Either way, it’s a good idea to visit your local pedorthist to see what can be done to alleviate your pain and help you to resume an active healthy lifestyle.

I have seen many clients over the years with chronic foot and/or lower limb pain. They come to see me in the hopes that I can do something to help them deal with the issues they are experiencing. Each time I encounter a patient with chronic pain in my clinic, I do my best to develop a tailor-made solution to the problem that works for the client. Here are some of the issues I have seen, and the treatments I have recommended.

Problems Pedorthists Encounter

  • One client came to me with sore heels after falling off a granary and landing 12 feet below on the ground. Once the breaks in the heel bones had healed up and the rehab specialists had done what they could, pain persisted in the patient’s daily activities. I was able to make a pair of supportive foot orthoses with cushioning that helped relieve the heel pain. This allowed the patient to return to work with a lot less pain.
  • I saw a client who had bunions and pain at the ball of the foot when walking. This was a chronic condition because the condition was a longstanding one and the patient’s doctor was uncertain how best to proceed. Foot orthoses at the ball of the foot were made and I gave advice about appropriate shoes to wear; both helped to relieve the pain.
  • Another client had a bad case of plantar fascitis that started in the summer while wearing heavy work boots and walking a lot. I gave the patient advice about icing and stretching the foot and doing appropriate exercises. This treatment plan, along with a pair of foot orthotics, made a huge difference for this case.
  • A client came in with a complicated case of gout, and because they were unable to take the standard medicine for gout, there was swelling in the foot that gave plantar fasciitis symptoms. My clinic provided the patient with a modified pair of shoes that were wide enough to accommodate the forefoot and deep enough to accommodate the swelling in the foot. The shoes had a positive toe rocker built into them and this helped the patient walk more comfortably. Dietary modifications put in place by dieticians and fellow gout sufferers along with changing his medicine has helped relieve the swelling and some pain.
  • Finally, a client came to my clinic with a complicated chronic pain syndrome with swelling that gave plantar fasciitis symptoms. In this case, a custom orthotic did help to relieve the one area of plantar fasciitis pattern pain, but not the rest of the foot. The rest needed to be treated by other specialists. Since a lot of re-injury was occurring while the client was asleep, a cast boot was supplied to be worn at night for injury prevention.

Pedorthists as Part of a Team Approach

As you can see in a few of the examples above, pedorthists can be an important part of the treatment one receives for foot and lower limb problems, particularly problems of chronic pain. The Pedorthist may not have all the parts of the solution though. In order to effectively deal with problems, sometimes a team approach might be needed between a doctor, a physical therapist and others to assess your situation and do what they each can to help. This team approach is usually the best way to see results quickly and help you to return to work and normal activity.

Once the root cause is established, there is much that a pedorthist can do as a part of a team to help get you back on your feet and help you to resume an active healthy lifestyle.  Doctors are best suited to casting broken bones, dealing with secondary injuries and giving pain relief. Physiotherapists are best suited to help rehabilitate people with some exercises and treatments like diathermy, ultrasound and cold laser therapy.  When all the parts are put together, the results are better than just the parts put together!

If you are suffering from chronic pain in your feet, ankles or legs, go see a pedorthist near you for help –just visit Find a Pedorthist to locate one near you today!

By Jim Pattison, C. Ped (C)

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