Have you ever considered visiting a chiropractor if you have foot pain?
Generally chiropractic is considered to be spinal health care, and this type of health care can certainly have an effect on foot pain, which I’ll explain in a moment. But, chiropractic care is really about ensuring that the neurological input to the brain is optimal by ensuring optimal movement of the joints – AND I MEAN ALL JOINTS – not just the joints of the spine. A smaller but SIGNIFICANT amount of proprioceptive input to the brain comes from the extremity joints – including the FEET.
Localised Foot Pains and Problems
Corns and plantar fasciitis, bunions, chronic ankle pain after a sprain and even osteoarthritis may all be the end symptoms of abnormal biomechanics of your feet. Because we all spend time on our feet (some more than others) any abnormal posture and movement of our feet can manifest upwards into our knees, pelvis and spine… Any chiropractor who wants to ensure the long term optimal function of your nervous system, spinal joints and extremity joints will need to address your feet.
How do chiropractors help biomechanical dysfunction of the feet?
Most of us pronate our feet – some more than others. Pronation is when the foot’s inner arch drops further than it should as it contacts the ground (We can still have high arches and be a pronator!). Recent thoughts on the reason behind why so many of us are pronators is that our feet no longer have an opportunity to develop as they should because we always walk on flat surfaces and because we wear shoes most of the time. When we look at the representation of our feet in our brain, it takes up as much space as the representation of our hands, however few of us could claim to have as much awareness and control of the movement of our feet as we do our hands. Some shoe manufacturers are becoming very aware of this problem and are designing shoes that ask a little more of our feet.
Motion X-ray studies suggest that the joints of the feet of people who pronate will all ‘lock up’ in the same way. Chiropractors can assess the motion of your feet to see if this is the case. In our clinic, our chiropractors will look at the posture of your feet and legs when you are sitting and standing. We take a ‘postural stability’ measurement that can determine if you are a pronator and how excessive this is. We can scan your feet (with a machine designed to be stood on – similar to a photocopier) to see what parts of your feet are contacting the ground and what parts aren’t. All of this helps us determine if you have biomechanical foot problems, how excessive they are and whether your concerns can be handled with chiropractic care or a referral is necessary.
Chiropractors may improve the movement of the joints of your feet in the same way they improve the movement of your spine – with some low force adjustments and mobilisations. They may choose to tape your feet and show you how to continue to do this at home. There may even be a need to implement stabilisers into your footwear. Stabilisers are similar to the orthotics that podiatrists make, but are softer. They enable the arches of the feet to drop but not excessively – as this is ideal for a foot. Chiropractors may also suggest foot strengthening exercises to help you keep your mechanics optimal.
Spinal Healthcare helping Foot Pain
The nerves that pass from our spinal canal through the vertebrae of our lower back to our feet are called motor nerves. The nerves that pass from our feet back through our leg, pelvis and lower back vertebrae are called sensory nerves.
If motor nerves from our low back have abnormal pressure on them, then the muscles of our lower limbs including our feet may be weakened. If the sensory nerves going back from our feet through our low back to our spinal cord and eventually our brain have abnormal pressure on them, then we can perceive this as an altered sensation in our feet – perhaps pain, pins and needles or even numbness. It is interesting that pressure as small as a 5 cent piece sitting on a nerve can change its function by up to 50 percent!
What sort of things may produce nerve pressure?
Nerve pressure can occur in the spinal canal (central canal stenosis) and in the holes exiting the spine (lateral canal stenosis). Many different issues can cause pressure in and exiting your spine and your chiropractor will know about these things and be able to assess this.
Pressure on nerves may occur in the pelvis with tightened muscles or other issues. In fact pressure may occur at any point along the course of the nerves travelling from your lumbar spine to your feet and back.
In house orthopaedic testing, myotomal (muscle strength), dermatomal (sensation testing) and reflex testing, together with imaging when necessary can help your chiropractor determine if you have nerve pressure and where it is.
Where do I begin?
Chiropractors are primary contact practitioners which means that you can visit them and they will be responsible for determining if your situation may be helped by chiropractic care or a referral to another health practitioner is necessary.
If you are considering investigating your foot pain, then chiropractic may just be a great starting point.
by Catalyst Health and Wellness Group
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