Yes, chiropractic helps with feet and ankle issues. The average person takes between 3,000 and 5,000 steps per day. In addition many of us are engaged in activities such as running and aerobic exercise that add many more steps and stress to our poor over worked feet. It is no wonder that many people have aches and pain in this part of the body. Factors such as flat feet or over-pronated feet, our walking and running style, the type of shoe wear can determine if we will get foot and ankle pain. However these factors can also affect the health of your back, knees and legs. Below are a few of the common conditions that affect the feet and ankle.
Hallux Valgus – Bunions
Hallux valgus is a condition when the big toe or hallux deviates towards the outside of the foot often almost overlapping or bumping in to the adjacent toe. It is a slow developing condition that usually develops a bump on the inside of the big toe often called a bunion.
The pain associated with Hallux Valgus is usually felt during weight bearing activities such as walking or prolonged standing. However if someone has developed a bunion the pain can be present at rest and if often described as a “numbing” or “burning” sensation in the big toes.
To be exact, the actual problem is not in the bone itself but in the joint between the big toe and the 1st metatarsal bone, the 1st metatarsal-phalangeal. It is the damage to this joint that causes the pain and deformity associated with Hallux Valgus. The condition is usually the result of wear and tear over a long period of time from factors such as over-pronation which causes abnormal pressure on the big toe and first metatarsal during walking. Other causes of hallux valgus include inflammatory arthritis that can damage the joint and cause degenerative changes. A broken toe that does not heal properly can also predispose a person to hallux. However one of the more common causes of the problem is the high heeled and pointed shoes that women often wear. These shoes not only put extra stress upon the joint but also help to push the big toe to the outside.
If you have hallux valgus, your chiropractor can examine your foot to determine which factors contributed to your condition. He or she can then use a number of techniques and modalities to decrease pain and improve your foot’s function.
Pes Planus ( Flat Feet )
Flat feet or Pes planus as it is called by the medical community is very common and it is estimated that at least one quarter of the population has flat feet. We are all born with flat feet and somewhere between the ages 3-10 we develop and arch. However in certain people this development never occurs. Besides genetic causes, there are a number of factors that can cause flat feet or predispose people to the condition. Sometimes people develop arches only to have them collapse later in their life. This often depends upon their lifestyle, job and level of activity. Age and weight also play a role in the condition’s development. Middle-aged people who have been working on their feet for years often experience flat feet, as do overweight people who are placing added stress on their feet and legs.
Having flat feet does not necessarily mean you will have pain as it’s possible for people to have the condition and never feel any discomfort. For people who do develop pain, it usually occurs in the feet and knees, and possibly in the hips and lower back. If you suspect you have flat feet and do experience pain you should see your chiropractor especially to determine a plan of management that can ease pain or prevent symptoms from developing. A number of options, including prescribing arch-supporting insoles called orthotics and performing joint adjustments can improve foot function and alleviate any symptoms.
Metatarsalgia ( Pain in the ball of the foot )
Metatarsalgia is sometimes called ball-of-foot pain, a pain in the area on the sole of the foot just behind the toes where the foot bends during walking. The pain is actually caused by a problem in one or more of the five metatarsal bones that extend from about half way up the foot to the toes.
While many patients with metatarsalgia feel pain where their metatarsal bones join their toe bones, some also feel pain along the entire length of the metatarsals and possibly between them. Problems in this area can vary from a stiff and stiff feeling when you move these bones to a burning or stinging sensation. This depends upon whether the problem is due to a dysfunction in the joints or an irritation to the nerves as they travel along the metatarsals.
The cause of the condition can vary but the cause is due to either structural or functional reasons. An example of a structural causes is when the metacarpal bones are either too long or too short causing abnormal mechanics in the feet and too much stress upon this area. Flat feet or excessive arch can also alter the stresses on the metatarsals causing similar symptoms.
There are other factors that can affect these bones that are often in the control of the individual. These include excess body weight, tight or high-heeled shoes, and excessive or poor running or athletic training. Excess weight and wearing high-heeled shoes increases stress upon the metatarsal which leads to joint pain and nerve irritation. Repetitive foot activities, like running, directly stress the metatarsals by exposing them to constant trauma.
Regardless of the cause, your chiropractor can effectively care for metatarsalgia. After determining what factors are underlying your condition, he or she can offer a variety of non-invasive therapies including orthotics as well as advice on how you can avoid future pain.