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Orthotics Don't Just Help Your Feet: Learn How They Can Improve Joint Pain

Orthotics Don't Just Help Your Feet: Learn How They Can Improve Joint Pain

Unlike their drugstore counterparts, custom orthotics are made specifically for you and your unique foot anatomy, which means they’re great for relieving foot pain and correcting foot and gait conditions.

But did you know that the benefits of orthotics don’t stop there? They also improve joint pain. When you come to Manhattan Podiatry Associates, PC, with joint pain, our team of specialists may recommend orthotics. 

Read on to learn how orthotics can improve joint pain.

The link between your feet, your gait, and your joints

When you think about walking (or even running), you probably focus your attention on your feet. Understandably, your feet play an irreplaceable role in walking, but your feet are just the first link in the kinetic chain

The kinetic chain refers to the mechanisms of human motion, and describes all of the interrelated groups of bones, muscles, and tendons that make mobility possible. 

Here’s a quick glimpse at how the kinetic chain works. You take a step with your foot, and it triggers a chain of events. Your lower limbs cycle through closed movements (stance) and open movements (swing). As one leg swings forward, it also causes the muscles in your hips and hamstrings to contract and release. 

Walk around the room for a minute and observe your body. What body parts are involved in the process of walking? You may notice that your arms and shoulders swing too. This is all part of the kinetic chain. The bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves in your feet, ankles, knees, and hips all work in unison to propel you forward. 

Unfortunately, any foot condition that affects your gait can impact your kinetic chain from the very first step. What starts off as small foot pain forces you to alter your gait to avoid putting weight on your foot. This, in turn, changes the whole kinetic chain and puts uneven pressure on your joints. 

According to research published in the Journal of Human Kinetics, this type of disruption to your kinetic chain can lead to lower limb joint and hip pain.

Orthotics restore the kinetic chain 

Now that we’ve covered how your joints can be affected by foot pain and any changes to your gait and kinetic chain, let’s talk about how orthotics help alleviate joint pain. 

An orthotic is a specially designed device that fits into your shoes and can correct the misalignment that’s causing your pain. Orthotics improve joint pain by treating the underlying cause, i.e., the condition that initially disrupted your kinetic chain.

Our team offers two types of orthotics: functional and accommodative. Functional orthotics are harder orthotics that correct abnormal foot position, and accommodative orthotics are softer inserts that help with diabetic ulcers and calluses.

Let’s consider another example. If you overpronate when you walk (which can also cause flat feet), it can put too much strain on the muscles and tendons that support your arch because you land on the edge of your heel. This misalignment can travel up the kinetic chain and contribute to knee pain. Orthotics can help alleviate this type of knee pain by supporting your arches properly so your feet don’t land on the edges when you walk.

Orthotics help ankle arthritis too

In addition to improving joint pain due to gait issues, orthotics can also help improve ankle joint pain. If you have ankle arthritis, it can make walking difficult and painful. Orthotics can cushion your joints while steroids injections can help reduce inflammation. 

Improve your joint pain with custom orthotics

Here at Manhattan Podiatry Associates, our team provides individual treatment for each of our patients. That’s why we start with a comprehensive foot exam, including an analysis of your gait. 

We take a detailed medical history and review your symptoms in order to best understand the root of your problem, whether it’s arthritis or a gait issue. Our custom orthotics are then designed to fit your unique anatomy and address your specific needs.

If you’re struggling with joint pain, don’t brush it off. To find out if orthotics can alleviate your foot and joint pain, call our Midtown or Downtown Manhattan office to set up an appointment. You can also book online.

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