The Arthritic Foot
The term “Arthritic Foot” actually encompasses a multitude of foot-related symptoms.
The dominant symptom of an arthritic foot is pain with a steadily decreasing ability to walk. Other symptoms include stiffness, visual deformity, or all of the above. Throughout the course of becoming arthritic, the feet can exhibit a range of conditions that include bunions, hallux valgus, hammer toes, splay, pronation, and corns or calluses. In addition, a sequence of symptom phases occur that can include plantar fasciitis, pins and needles, and burning or achy feet.
Dr. Sam Dubé discusses the arthritic foot
Learn about the symptoms, causes, and benefits of different treatment options.
What causes the arthritic foot?
Simply put, an arthritic foot is one outcome of long term uncorrected poor foot mechanics.
Early-phase, poor foot function is primarily caused by long-term use of footwear, especially when it restricts or interferes with the foot’s natural, optimal dynamic movement.
As poor foot mechanics become more dysfunctional over time, the foot’s soft tissue and bone structures lose the ability to effectively manage the forces imposed on them by day-to-day activities. Over time, poor function becomes the maladapted norm. This causes an escalation of damaging stresses that lead to a cascade of arthritic-related tissue damage, inflammation, stiffness, and degeneration.
Modern science has identified that the nervous system plays a critical role in stabilizing the feet and ankles when walking or running. It is now understood that poor foot mechanics are a symptom of inefficient neuromuscular function caused by conventional footwear use. In fact, conventional footwear use causes poor neuromuscular function in the feet, legs, hips, and back, when:
the soles of the feet don’t receive the subtle, varied stimulus that the nervous system requires for healthy function and
snug toe boxes, stiff midsoles/outsoles/uppers and tight lacing restrict healthy foot movement.
To learn more about how your shoes may be causing your foot, leg, hip, and back pain, click HERE.
The best way to prevent and treat an arthritic foot is to RETRAIN optimal neuromuscular function and to use footwear that is soft, flexible, and roomier in the forefoot.
Conventional treatment methods for the arthritic foot
Since the late 1890s, the standard treatment for poor foot mechanics has been to artificially support the arches with an orthotic. Other conventional treatment options include:
Medication and topical creams
Ice or electro-therapy
Modern science has transitioned away from using long-term support and cushioning on any body part because it causes a progressive weakening of the body part being supported or cushioned.
The modern approach to treating the arthritic foot
Science has shown that merely challenging the body to “do its job” is the best way to restore and enhance function.
The modern approach to address poor neuromuscular function is to employ a “Proper Technique” rehabilitative therapy to regain healthy function. This approach is extensively used pre- and post-surgery and is also the foundation of virtually all sports training/rehabilitation programs. By employing a therapeutic approach, the feet become stronger and more stable, thereby addressing the cause of the poor mechanics that contribute to the arthritic foot. Proper Technique therapies employ exercise that focuses on safely training healthy neuromuscular function, i.e., optimal mobility, muscle strength, stability, and alignment.
Proper Technique therapies require both Right Stimulus and Right Movement.
Right Stimulus occurs when the information that the brain receives from the senses triggers an efficient protective reflex function or Right Movement. The nerve endings in the soles of the feet play a critical role in providing the brain with the information required for optimal Right Movement throughout the feet, legs, hips, and back. When the brain receives insufficient or inaccurate information from the soles of the feet, the protective reflex function Right Movement will be ineffective or absent altogether. This is what happens when conventional footwear is worn. For more information on Right Stimulus and Right Movement, click HERE.
To therapeutically address the cause of oversupination and to prevent it from reoccurring, do the following:
- Walk barefoot on natural terrain as much as possible. This provides the optimal Right Stimulus and allows for the Right Movement required for healthy neuromuscular function.
- Use Biopods® Stimsoles® Footwear or Insoles. Biopods Footwear provides the ultimate Proper Technique shoe environment. Biopods Insoles improve the stimulus in your conventional footwear. Use in loosely laced, soft, flexible footwear with ample toe room that allows your arches and toes to rise easily for best results.
- Consult with your healthcare practitioner to ask about employing soft tissue mobilization therapies to address the fibrotic scar tissue that may have formed prior to using Biopods.
For more information on what to expect when using Biopods, click HERE.