FAQ

What are Orthotics? 

Orthotics, in general, are arch supports, made to fit inside various types of footwear, to provide comfort, pain relief and increased performance.

Custom orthotics are normally made from a plaster cast of the patient’s foot while sitting or lying down.

What’s different about Footstar Orthotics?

Footstar Orthotics are designed to fit the unique shape of each person’s foot. Proper orthotics are anatomically molded and the modern Pedorthist uses gait analysis and computer foot modeling in order to create the perfect fit.

The process is simple: We send a foam impression box which you send back to us postage paid and then we do the rest! Our cutting edge laser scanners precisely measure every contour of your foot to produce an amazingly comfortable orthotic for any activity.

Do Orthotics improve sports performance?

Athletics make demands on the feet not encountered in normal daily activity. Slight imbalances in the foot not dangerous or detectable under everyday circumstances may render you vulnerable to injury with the extra stress of sports activity. By eliminating the need for your muscles to compensate for these “hidden” imbalances, orthotics reduce fatigue and promote the kind of efficient “muscle memory” that’s crucial to outstanding performance. By aiding your control of foot movement, custom-fitted orthotics also maximize the biomechanical function not only of your feet but of your legs and torso, as well. The difference is often noticed almost immediately, giving you the kind of increased agility, balance, and sure-footed response you never knew were in you.

 What do I do for heel pain?

Heel pain is a common condition in which weight bearing on the heel causes extreme discomfort.

Cause

There are two different categories of heel pain. The first is caused by over-use repetitive stress which refers to a soreness resulting from too much impact on a specific area of the foot. This condition, often referred to as “heel pain syndrome,” can be caused by shoes with heels that are too low, a thinned out fat pad in the heel area, or from a sudden increase in activity.

Plantar Fasciitis

It sounds like a funny name for a foot problem. But to the people that suffer from it, it’s anything but funny. Fasciitis, (yes the double “i” is not a misprint) is one of the most common foot complaints that limp through my door. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band (usually the medial band) of the plantar fascia, (a thick ligamentous band inserting at the heel and the ball of the foot, supporting the arch of the foot.). The band serves many functions, not the least of which is to help support the arch structure of the foot.

Numerous factors, such as being overweight, walking on hard , unforgiving surfaces, high impact athletic activities and poor foot structure, all contribute to inflammation of this band. Repeated micro-tears of the plantar fascia cause pain in the heel area especially upon arising first thing in the morning or after a period of rest. Symptoms usually subside as the foot warms up and the fascia stretches out.

Treatment and Prevention

To properly treat heel pain, you must absorb shock, provide cushioning and elevate the heel to transfer pressure.

When the condition is pronation related (usually plantar fasciitis),an orthotic with medial posting and good arch support will control the pronation and prevent the inflammation of the plantar fascia.

Footwear selection is also an important criteria when treating heel pain. Shoes with a firm heel counter, good arch support, and appropriate heel height are the ideal choice.

As always, surgery should be the very last resort. If the problem persists, consult your foot doctor for heel pain treatment.

Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis

Orthotics for plantar fasciitis are removable arch supports made from a digital foot scan. Pain with the first steps of the day can be markedly reduced by stretching the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon before getting out of bed. Night splints can be used to keep the foot in a dorsi-flexed position (toes pointing toward ceiling) during sleep to improve calf muscle flexibility and decrease pain on waking. All of these treatments are most effective when combined with weight loss, if needed.

Arch Pain?

The term arch pain (often referred to as arch strain) refers to an inflammation and/or burning sensation at the arch of the foot.

Cause

There are many different factors that can cause arch pain. A structural imbalance or an injury to the foot can often be the direct cause. However, most frequently the cause is a common condition called plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue located along the bottom surface of the foot that runs from the heel to the forefoot. Excessive stretching of the plantar fascia, usually due to over-pronation (flat feet), causes plantar fasciitis.

The inflammation caused by the plantar fascia being stretched away from the heel often leads to heel and arch pain. The pain is often extreme in the morning when an individual first gets out of bed or after a prolonged period of rest.

If arch pain is left untreated and strain on the longitudinal arch continues, a bony protrusion may develop, known as a heel spur. It is important to treat the condition promptly before it worsens.

Treatment and Prevention

This is a common foot problem that can be easily treated. If you suffer from arch pain avoid high-heeled shoes whenever possible. Try to choose footwear with a reasonable heel, soft leather uppers, shock absorbing soles and removable foot insoles. When the arch pain is pronation related (flat feet), soft orthotics designed with a medial heel post and proper arch support is recommended for treating the pain.This type of orthotic will control over-pronation, support the arch and provide the necessary relief.

If the problem persists, consult your foot doctor.

Arthritis

Arthritis is a disease characterized by the inflammation of the cartilage and lining of the body’s joints. Inflammation causes redness, warmth, pain and swelling.

Definition

Arthritis is a disease characterized by the inflammation of the cartilage and lining of the body’s joints. Inflammation causes redness,warmth, pain and swelling. There are about 40 million Americans who suffer from arthritis. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, estimates that by the year 2020,about 60 million Americans will have arthritis. The primary targets for arthritis are people over the age of 50. Arthritis is a major cause of foot pain because each foot has 33 joints that can become affected by the disease.

Osteoarthritis

There are many different types of arthritis. The most common type is called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis causes excessive strain and the wearing away of cartilage in the joints of the foot. Movement becomes very difficult and painful. The pain and swelling worsens while standing or walking, and stiffness usually occurs after periods of rest.

Gout

Gout is another form of arthritis that also leads to foot complications. Excess uric acid crystals collect in and around the joints of the big toe. The big toe joint is commonly the focal point due to the stress and pressure it experiences during walking and other weight bearing activities. This often leads to severe pain in the big toe. Men are more likely to develop gouty arthritis than women.

Cause

There are many causes of arthritis. Heredity plays a major role. However, arthritic symptoms can develop due to many other factors. Some of these include bacterial and viral infections, prescription and illegal drugs, traumatic injuries, and bowel disorders such as ileitis and colitis.

Forefoot problems such as hammer toes, claw toes, mallet toes, and bunions often develop as a result of arthritis, particularly Rheumatoid arthritis. Problems can also develop in the heel and ankle area due to the erosion of the involved joints.

Treatment and Prevention

Conservative treatment (non-surgical treatment) of the arthritic foot includes proper footwear, orthotics, and/or forefoot supports. Arthritic footwear should provide the following benefits:

High, wide toe box (high and wide space in the toe area)

Removable insoles for fitting flexibility and the option to insert custom orthotics if necessary.

Arthritic footwear should also accommodate swelling of the foot. Orthotics designed to provide comfort, support and extra cushioning are also recommended. Orthotics made with a material called Plastazote are often recommended because they mold to your feet to provide customized comfort. The proper footwear and orthotics will reduce pressure to provide a comfortable and healthy environment for the foot.

If the problem persists, consult your foot doctor.

Callouses

Definition

The formation of callouses is caused by an accumulation of dead skin cells that harden and thicken over an area of the foot. This callus formation is the body’s defense mechanism to protect the foot against excessive pressure and friction. Calluses are normally found on the ball-of-the-foot, the heel, and/or the inside of the big toe.

Cause

Calluses develop because of excessive pressure at a specific area of the foot. Some common causes of callus formation are high-heeled dress shoes, shoes that are too small, obesity, abnormalities in the gait cycle (walking motion), flat feet, high arched feet, bony prominences,and the loss of the fat pad on the bottom of the foot.

Treatment and Prevention

Many people try to alleviate callus pain  by cutting or trimming them with a razor blade or knife. This is not the way to properly treat calluses. This is very dangerous and can worsen the condition resulting in unnecessary injuries. Diabetics especially should never try this type of treatment.

To relieve the excessive pressure that leads to callus formation,weight should be redistributed equally with the use of an orthotic. An effective custom orthotic transfers pressure away from the “hot spots” or high pressured areas to allow the callus to heal. The orthotic should be made with materials that absorb shock and shear (friction) forces. Women should also steer away from wearing high-heeled shoes.

As always, surgery should be the very last resort. If callous pain persists, consult your foot doctor.

Shin Splints

Definition

Shin splints are a common lower extremity complaint, especially among runners and other athletes. They are characterized by pain in the front or inside aspect of the lower leg due to overexertion of the muscles. The pain usually develops gradually without a history of trauma, and might begin as a dull ache along the front or inside of the shin (Tibia) after running or even walking. Small bumps and tender areas may become evident adjacent to the shin bone. Pain can become more intense if not addressed, and shin splints should not be left untreated because of an increased risk of developing stress fractures.

Shin splints usually involve small tears in the leg muscles where they are attached to the shin bone. The two types of shin splints are: anterior shin splints, in the front portion of the tibia; and posterior shin splints, occurring on the inside of the leg along the tibia.

Cause

Shin splints can be caused when the anterior leg muscles are stressed by running, especially on hard surfaces or extensively on the toes, or by sports that involve jumping. Wearing athletic shoes that are worn out or don’t have enough shock absorption can also cause this condition. Over-pronated (flat feet) are another factor that can lead to increased stress on the lower leg muscles during exercise. People with high arched feet can also experience shin splint discomfort because this foot type is a poor shock absorber

Treatment and Prevention

The best way to prevent shin splints is to stretch and strengthen the leg muscles, wear footwear with good shock absorption, and avoid running on hard surfaces or excessive running or jumping on the ball-of-the-foot. Insoles or running orthotics that offer arch support for over-pronation are also important.

Treatment for shin splints should include taking a break from the exercise that is causing the problem until pain subsides. Icing the area immediately after running or other exercise can also be effective,along with gentle stretching before and after training. Another option is taking aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

It is important not to try to train through the pain of shinsplints. Runners should decrease mileage for about a week and avoid hills or hard surfaces. If a muscle imbalance, poor running form or flat feet are causing the problem, a long-term solution might involve a stretching and strengthening program and orthotics that support the foot and correct over-pronation. In more severe cases, ice massage,electro stimuli, heat treatments and ultra-sound might be used. 3D foot mapping and running gait analysis can help create an orthotic that works with your unique style and foot type.

If problem persists, consult your foot doctor.

Bunions

Definition

Bunions. Just the word can send shivers up and down the spine of today’s active woman. But don’t blame those cute 4 inch heel Ferragamo pumps. Blame your mother. Bunions are the ugly protrusions at the base of the big toe that make buying shoes such fun.They may present as just a bump or they may be accompanied by a deviation of the big to toward the lesser toes. A bunion is generally considered as an enlargement of the joint (osseous) at the base and side of the big toe – (specifically, the first metatarsophalangeal joint). As they get worse, bunions may progress to a point where the big toe moves out of place. As the big toe bends towards the others this bump becomes larger and the joint loses its integrity a bunion can become painful, usually from an inflammation of the bursa sac surrounding the joint (bursitis) and then eventually arthritis. Hallux valgus or hallux abducto valgus (HAV) is the name used for the deviated position of the big toe and a bunion refers to the enlargement of the joint – most, but not all, of the time the two go together and can just be referred to as ‘bunions’.

Cause

Wearing footwear that is too tight or with pointed toes can caus the toes to be squeezed together are the most commonly blamed factors for the cause of bunions and hallux valgus and is undoubtedly is a contributing factor. This probably is the reason for the higher prevalence of bunions among women. (Studies show that women are up to 10 times more likely to develop bunions than men.) However, studies of some indigenous populations that never wear footwear, show that they also get bunions – BUT, they are very uncommon.

Treatment and Prevention

There are many treatment options for bunions and they will vary with the type and severity of each bunion and will also depend on what is causing the symptoms. Bunions are almost always progressive and tend to get larger and more painful with time – how fast this happens may be a function of the fit and function of the footwear. The initial goal of treatment options is to relieve pressure on the bunion and any symptoms that may be present and to halt or slow the progression of the joint deformity. There is no effective way to “get rid of” a bunion. Although there are a number of things that individuals (see below) and Pedorthists can do to help the symptoms and slow (if not halt) progression.

Custom Foot Orthotics may be the most useful tool in helping with the instability and pain associated with bunions. Custom foot orthotics can alleviate pain by unweighting and stabilizing the 1st metatarsal joint as well as the rest of the foot.

Padding with a number of different materials (e.g. felt) to reduce pressure on the painful prominence of the bunion.* Physical therapy can be used to help with the symptoms and improve the range of motion (this is particularly helpful if the pain is coming from inside the joint, rather than from shoe pressure).

Metatarsalgia...Ball of the foot pain

Metatarsalgia is a general term used to denote a painful foot condition in the metatarsal region of the foot (the area just before the toes, more commonly referred to as the ball-of-the-foot). Metatarsalgia. Sounds like a deadly disease made up by a sci-fi writer in the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Actually it’s not made up at all. It is very real to thousands of runners who have experienced the pain in feet that it brings.

Metatarsalgia, or pain from inflammation in the ball of the foot, is caused by overuse and inefficient weight distribution across the metatarsal arch. The causes of metatarsalgia are mainly overuse, repetitive stress, and foot structure issues. Perhaps the single most effective conservative solution to combat metatarsalgia is custom orthotics. Orthotics with metatarsal pads and arch support cushion and support the forefoot maintaining alignment of the metatarsal arch and distributing shock evenly. The best choice is custom orthotics made from a digital scan or plaster mold of the foot. Digital scans are faster and more accurate than plaster casts but either type are better than “off the shelf” models, although relief can be obtained from both. Placement of the metatarsal pad is crucial. Too far forward or back and you won’t be a happy camper. This metatarsal support evenly distributes the impact forces efficiently. Arch support is important because the arch will bear more weight decreasing pressure on the metatarsal heads.

Certain foot shapes: A high arch can put extra pressure on the metatarsals and increase Pes Cavus as this is called causes the metatarsal shaft to angle down toward the ground at an increased angle increasing the pressure on the metatarsal heads.

So can having a second toe that’s longer than the big toe, which causes more weight than normal to be shifted to the second and smaller metatarsal head.

Hammertoe: This foot problem can develop when high heels or too-small shoes prevent your toes from lying flat. As a result, one of your toes — usually the second — curls downward because of a bend in the middle toe joint. This contraction increases pressure on the metatarsal heads causing more.

Bunion: This is a swollen, painful bump at the base of your big toe. Sometimes the tendency to develop bunions is inherited, but the problem can also result from wearing high heels or too-small shoes. Bunions are much more common in women than in men. A bunion can weaken your big toe, putting extra stress on the ball of your foot. Sometimes surgery to correct a bunion can also lead to metatarsalgia.

 

Cushioned socks

Believe it or not, your choice of socks can have a lot to do with your level of relief. Try to buy socks with extra cushioning in the forefoot. Look for Coolmax-cotton or cotton- polyester blend. Ice & NSAIDS Icing the area is important to reduce the inflammation often associated with metatarsalgia.

NSAIDS (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory) meds and play an important role in conjunction with the other remedies mentioned above. Metatarsalgia doesn’t have to ruin you training regime. Learn to recognize the symptoms of metatarsalgia and deal with them early on and you won’t miss a step. A pain in the heel!