Each patient that presents to our office brings with them their own individual clinical conditions. No two are the same, so treating them as such will result in less than adequate outcomes for both the patient and the clinician. As a chiropractor, the goal of the treatment plan is to help the patient achieve and maintain the best possible function by correcting structural relationships throughout the spine and pelvis. Due to various stressors placed on the individual through both traumatic and micro-traumatic events, maintaining proper function can prove to be difficult.
The spine is one link in the biomechanical kinetic chain that not only resists gravitational stress, but also performs locomotion, or the body’s ability to move (purposefully). The kinetic chain extends from the ankle to the knee, hip pelvis and spine with many actions and articulations in between. When patients turn to their chiropractor for a solutions to back or neck pain, few of them expect their feet to be involved. Yet in 7 out of 10 patients, postural distortions are the cause of their discomfort. The stress that drives many pain syndromes can often be traced to altered foot biomechanics, resulting in pelvic and spinal distortions.
Looking at the anatomy of the spine, the vertebral column is a vertical stack of articulated functional units. Each unit has an anterior body designed to bear weight and absorb shock, and a posterior portion where muscles attach to provide balance, strength and stability. The base of the vertebral column articulates with the sacrum helping to form a three joint complex known as the pelvic ring. Two of these joints are the sacroiliac (SI) joints, which help to absorb energy, disperse torsion, absorb shearing forces and transmit body weight to the lower extremities. Along with restricting excessive movement and protecting the intervertebral discs throughout the spine, anterior and posterior ligaments running the length the spinal column provide feedback to the nervous system.
Balancing posture throughout the spine is reliant on the need for ligamentous support and proper muscle tone. Without these two factors, abnormal postural stress can result in ligaments becoming more susceptible to sprains and muscles more susceptible to strains. As a chiropractor, applying all of this information to a clinical setting can verify that restriction of a joint causes compensatory hypermobility, which also affects postural function. Excessive mobility over a long period of time will weaken the supportive properties of joints, putting the entire spine and pelvic structure at risk for injury. Stress will typically concentrate on the weakest link in the kinetic chain, so faulty foot biomechanics has the ability to cause chronic pelvic and spinal distortions and exacerbate existing conditions, even when there is no apparent relationship to the feet.
Patients are not likely to complain of pain in the feet because symptoms are often referred to structures elsewhere in the body. Chiropractors look for clinical indications such as uneven leg lengths(especially in low back pain patients), chiropractic adjustments that do not hold, general complaints of leg or knee pain, the presence of shin splints, achilles tendinitis, plantar fascitis, or local signs such as corn or callus formation.
The goal of all treatment programs is to realign structure and improve function. When the feet exhibit excessive pronation, the body is exposed to far reaching consequences, affecting the overall dynamics of the body. This relationship can and does have a considerable effect on the musculoskeletal system, which can drive both acute and chronic pain syndromes.
Taking a weight bearing cast of each patient’s feet provides the most accurate image of foot dysfunction, therefore allowing for a custom designed orthotic, specific to the individual. The best results can be achieved from a custom made, flexible orthotic that supports the entire plantar vault and is produced to match the unique characteristics of the individual. Specific levels of activity are even taken into consideration when choosing which type of orthotic is best. When used in conjunction with chiropractic care (and not as a substitute for it), patients gain a true advantage when addressing pain syndromes along with preventing future episodes and injuries.
To learn more about the custom stabilizing orthotics that we prescribe here at Greenwood Health Center, visit www.footlevelers.com.