Got Foot or Ankle Pain? We Can Help!
As a Structural Chiropractor, I oftentimes see people with foot or ankle injuries and pain, many of them sports-related, but most of them directly linked to something that in many cases, gets overlooked by other chiropractors, physical therapists, orthopedists, and even podiatrists: a pelvic imbalance, or leg length discrepancy, with a secondary left-to-right weight imbalance. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you should be carrying 100 pounds on the right and 100 pounds on the left, give or take 5 pounds. For example, 102 and 98 would be OK, but if you are carrying 110 lbs on one side and 90 lbs on the other, then, “Houston, we have a problem.”
That imbalance would be like going to Home Depot with your pick-up truck, buying 500 lbs of concrete, and loading 300 on one side of the truck and 200 on the other. Not only would your drive be uneven and difficult, but the side carrying the most weight would lead to accelerated wear and tear. The human body is no different. The side carrying more weight will overtime develop pain and dysfunction in the weight-bearing joints, primarily the foot, ankle, knee, and hip, eventually also affecting the low back.
Some common causes of foot/ankle pain:
Plantar Fasciitis: an inflammation or irritation of a band of tissue that connects the heel to the toes. Treatment consists of foot and heel stretches and wearing shoes with proper support. Cold laser therapy can help as well.
Bone Spurs: spurs typically develop from wearing the wrong type of shoe, an unusual walk or posture, or from running. They are abnormal growth, usually on the bottom of the heel, and are treated with shoes that have a shock-absorbing sole, orthotic inserts, heel pads, physical therapy, or cold laser therapy. As discussed before, optimizing weight distribution is crucial if you were looking for a permanent solution. Otherwise, it will only progress and worsen over time.
Tendinitis: occurs due to mechanical imbalances and repetitive irritation, wherever there are tendons in the body. Treatment can include rest, physical therapy and corrective exercises, cold laser therapy, and ice/heat.
Ankle Sprains: The most common ankle injury, sprains occur after a fall or when the ankle is twisted. When not properly treated, even a mild ankle sprain can lead to chronic pain. Symptoms include swelling, tenderness, pain behind the ankle bone, or even pain that spreads into the foot. Treatment for mild ankle sprains includes rest, ice/heat, compression or bracing, and elevation. Mechanical traction and corrective exercises can also help, as well as cold laser therapy to prevent scar tissue formation and chronicity.
So how do we minimize the risk of ankle and foot injuries? Here are a few tips to optimize foot and ankle structure and function:
- Wear properly-sized and fitted shoes—Your feet have a natural tendency to become flatter and wider as you get older so be sure to have them properly measured each time you buy shoes.
- See a foot specialist if needed, for a proper assessment. A podiatrist or orthopedist specializing in feet/ankles is your best option. As bipeds, we spend a great part of our life on our feet, so checking our mechanical and structural foundation is always crucial in achieving optimal health. Your specialist may recommend gait analysis, arch supports, and orthotics.
- If overweight, shed some of those extra pounds, as that extra weight adds to the compressive forces on your entire body while you are standing or sitting, which in turn contributes to and accelerates the wear and tear on your joints. The primary joins affected can will usually involved feet, ankles, knees, hips, and low back. The more the excess weight and the longer the time, the more joints will be affected.
As a structural chiropractor, while we focus primarily on the spine and nervous system, it is imperative to address your body’s mechanical foundation: your pelvis and your weight-bearing joints, including your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Optimize their structure, and you will see a significant improvement in their function and in your overall health.
If you are looking for options to deal with your injuries, or have any questions, call us at 714 540 6792 for a free virtual or in-person consultation, which is simply a conversation with our doctor, to see if we can help!