Prescribing therapeutic orthotics in addition to Osteopathic care works extremely well in the treatment of numerous clinical conditions and improves a patient’s ability to maintain improved body mechanics and function.
Orthotics promote postural stability and balance within the body, enhancing the integrity of overall musculoskeletal alignment and physiological function. This is because the feet are the foundation of the body in terms of ground reaction and their influence must be considered even in cases involving other body structures. If a patient’s condition is affected by gravitational forces, structural imbalance, or joint disturbances, orthotic prescription may very well be helpful in speeding recovery and preventing reoccurrence. In cases of specific trauma that produce an area of weakness, healing can be accelerated when strong support is provided by a balanced foundation.
Treating the Patient as a whole:
Recognition of the interrelationship of structures in the musculoskeletal system is a fundamental concept of osteopathic practice and is something that is carefully considered daily here at Dynamic Osteopaths. The ability to see the body as an interrelated unit, instead of treating isolated symptoms, generates results that build patient satisfaction and professional success.
In addition, understanding the relationship between a balanced foundation and total postural health improves the effectiveness of individual case of patient management. Gravity forces work through the mechanics of the feet, knees, and legs into the spine and pelvis and then all the way up the spine into the skull. These forces have huge mechanical consequences if maligned. The body functions as a total unique kinetic chain, where movement at one joint influences movement at other joints.
Foot dysfunction occurs in an estimated 80% of people over the age of 40. Often, patients are unaware of their problem because symptoms refer to structures away site. Many pelvic and spinal distortions can be traced to dysfunction in foot biomechanics. Here at Dynamic Osteopaths our sports osteopaths out of Solihull and Birmingham are well trained in identifying these biomechanical abnormalities.
Tracing the Kinetic Chain
Excessive pronation of the subtalar joint is the most common foot disorder that contributes to chronic postural problems (otherwise known as collapsed arches). A natural inroll of the foot must occur during gait/walking so that body weight propels forward, knees can flex, and natural shock absorbers protect upper body structures from heel strike forces. When the degree and duration of pronation exceed established norms, consequences extend throughout the closed kinetic chain. Clinical example:
At the knee: Flattening of the longitudinal arch stretches the retinaculum on the medial side. The patella is pulled laterally in the femoral grove during flexion, setting the stage for chondromalacia patellae.
In the pelvis: Lack of pedal support prolongs inward rotation of the lower extremity, causing inward hip rotation related to myofascial back pain.
At the spine: Excessive pronation effectively creates a functional short leg, leading to pelvic unleveling. Shear strain on the articular facet joints, compensatory scoliosis, and intra-articular capsule changes are possible consequences.7
Here at dynamic osteopaths we promote and prescribe custom fitted Vasyli Medical 6 degree orthotics serving to control motion within the foot, including the angle and timing of pronation. It is extremely important to facilitate but not restrict movement, to avoid a compensatory hypermobility elsewhere in the kinetic chain. These orthotics prescribed by your osteopath allow movement to occur, but check the degree of inroll as if a wedge were placed at the point of weakness.
Several studies verify the effectiveness of orthotic support in stabilizing the pedal foundation for better postural health. In one, pronation measurements were taken on both an injured and a normal foot. When an orthotic was worn on the injured foot, the degree of pronation was almost equal. Another study involving the used of flexible orthotics focused on three key postural measurements:
Femoral head height. Healthy posture shows little or no difference in head height. Variance reflects functional or structural problems in the feet, knees, pelvis, or spine.
Sacrovertebral angle. The accepted optimum angle is 110 degrees. Pelvic tilt or lumbar lordosis will cause a change in angle measurement.
Lumbosacral disc angle. The standard measurement is between five and nine degrees. Outside these limits, weightbearing stress can effect the facet articulation and disc.
Subjects in the study wore spinal pelvic stabilizers for four months, but received no chiropractic adjustments and made no other lifestyle changes. At the end of the period, measured improvements occurred in all three areas. Members of a runners’ club demonstrated that orthotics provide a high level of symptom relief. Almost 350 people who had been using orthotics for an average of two years completed identical questionnaires about specific musculoskeletal symptoms. Complete resolution or great improvement in their symptoms was reported by 75% of respondents.
Among their complaints were pain in the knees, feet, ankles, shins, and hips. The top three conditions in those diagnosed by health care professionals were excessive pronation, plantar fascitis, and Achilles tendinitis.
A study focusing on patients with leg length discrepancy involved 1,157 subjects with discrepancies of less than 10 millimeters. Over a 15-year period, they demonstrated a 75 percent reduction in low back pain, sciatic pain, and hip pain when shoe insert were worn. Pain would often occur the same day that inserts were not used, and go away when used resumed.
Identifying Imbalance is a standard Osteopathic system. With a trained eye, many osteopaths can determine the likelihood of imbalance as the patient walks into the examining room. These include:
Foot flare: toeing out while walking indicates excessive inroll in one or both feet.
Medial patellar rotation: impact of pronation on the knee as described above manifests in abnormal rotation of the patella.
Bowed Achilles tendon: inroll of the foot stresses soft tissues, creating a distinctive curve of the Achilles tendon.
These factors serve as general indicators of foot imbalance. During the routine patient exam, be alert to more specific symptoms, including:
The presence of shin splints, patellofemoral disorders, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fascitis, or stress fractures.
Local signs such as corns, calluses, bunions, neuralgia, or altered circulation.
Leg length inequality, especially in the presence of low back pain, unilateral hip arthrosis, or lower extremity stress.
General complaints of leg cramps, knee or hip pain, spinal distortion, cervical tension, mid-thoracic or low back pain, sciatica, or fatigue.
The integrity of the body’s Biomechanical foundation has a direct impact on total musculoskeletal health. The Biomechanical kinetic relationship between the feet and upper body structures can affect the effectiveness and longevity of osteopathic care and treatment management.
Osteopathic orthotic description aids normalizes foot structure and motion to provide a more stable base for the musculoskeletal complex. Even though the feet may not hurt, symptoms referred elsewhere in the body manifest as chronic pain or lack of permanence in osteopathic manual medicine.
Clinical studies and field research verify the value of orthotics in relieving pain and improving structural integrity. Flexible orthotics control pedal motion without restricting function and creating compensatory hypermobility in other structures.
For further information please do not hesitate to contact us at www.dynamicosteopaths.com
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We have Osteopathic clinics operating out of Henley in Arden, Solihull and Harborne Birmingham.