The Link Between Biomechanics And Pain
Talk to just about any podiatrist, and you might eventually hear some variation on the following phrase:
Feet are your foundation.
We don’t say that just because it sounds good, or makes a convincing sales pitch. We say it because it’s the truth.
All the physical motions that happen within your entire body—and whether or not they happen smoothly or painfully—depend to a great extent on what’s going on at the very bottom of your standing skeletal structure.
A House Built on Sand
Let’s make an analogy.
Have you ever seen a home with an unstable or failing foundation? Maybe you even lived in one for a time!
The results are not pretty.
Without a solid, level base of support, even the most well-built structures made from the toughest, most durable materials start to crumble.
Giant cracks start showing up on walls and ceilings. Windows and doors just won’t latch and close anymore. Gaps open up around window frames and counters start to tilt away from the wall. Floors start to sag or even bow. In the most serious cases, you could be looking at total structural failure of your home.
Well, your feet and ankles really aren’t so different.
Let’s say your feet are biomechanically compromised in some way. Perhaps you have a flat arch that isn’t really capable of cushioning the impact forces on your feet as well as it should.
The most obvious and probably earliest symptom you’ll notice is going to be foot pain. Your heels and the middle of your feet are going get swollen and fatigued much faster. You’ll be much more prone to develop conditions like plantar fasciitis, shin splints, foot arthritis, or even bunions and hammertoes due to the added stress on your muscles, bones, and joints.
But the problems are unlikely to remain in your feet. That flat arch, in all likelihood, pulled your heel bone out of its proper alignment with your ankle. It may have also altered the way that your joints and muscles move and operate when you walk.
In order to compensate for this added unsteadiness, your knees, hips, and even back may be pulled out of alignment—which adds extra stress and increases injury risk to those areas, too.
Basically, your entire standing skeletal structure can be compromised—leading to chronic pain and constant injury—simply because the biomechanics of your feet or ankles are out of whack.
But that’s not all bad news, because it means that fixing the problem at the source can set everything back in place. And unlike fixing your home’s foundation—which can easily reach five figures in severe cases—addressing your body’s foundation issues are often much simpler and cheaper than you might think.
A Passion for Biomechanics
Here’s a fun fact for you:
Did you know that, before she got into podiatric medicine, Dr. Victoria Melhuish actually studied to become a structural engineer?
(Those of you who are already patients of ours might now be thinking, “Wow, that explains a lot!”)
As weird as it might seem to bounce from one of these career paths to the other, we hope that reading this blog has made you see that the two occupations are really not so different—at least in a few critical respects.
In fact, you can say that Dr. Melhuish’s interest in biomechanics started at the very beginning—or actually, even before the very beginning, back when she was still hoping to become an engineer. And that background has given her a unique insight into the link between faulty biomechanics and pain all across the body.
Suffice to say, she has a passion for this stuff. And it’s why we continue to focus on biomechanics, orthotics, and other treatments based on addressing the fundamental causes of pain, rather than just the symptoms.
Fixing Your Biomechanics
What does this biomechanics focus look like in practice? For starters, we are one of the very best in the business when it comes to providing high quality orthotics and arch supports to our patients.
Orthotics and arch supports are, by far, the most versatile treatment tools available to help put your feet and ankle back in proper position. Orthotics replace your shoe’s ordinary insoles and provide your feet with more personalized support and cushioning, and even stability and motion control when necessary.
We stand behind our service as one of the very best providers of arch supports and custom orthotics, for a couple of reasons.
Number one is, of course, Dr. Melhuish’s background in structural engineering and her personal interest and passion in biomechanics. She specializes in foot structure, gait mechanics, and gait analysis and can help you pinpoint exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it.
We’ll thoroughly examine your feet, watch you walk and run, even analyze the tread wear on your shoes to come up with a diagnosis.
Number two is that we actually own our own orthotics laboratory, which we use to make refinements to custom and even prefabricated orthotics, right away and on-site. This is a specialized service you aren’t going to find at many other podiatry clinics out there, and we’re proud to be able to offer it to our patients.
If you already have a set of prefabs, we can adjust them so that they fit and work better. And if you need a new pair of custom orthotics, you won’t get a better pair from anywhere else.
Other ways we might address your foot and ankle biomechanics include:
- Balance braces and fall prevention. Faulty biomechanics and unstable joints can contribute to a greater risk of falling, especially for seniors. We screen for balance issues and offer the Moore Balance Brace for individuals that need a little more support and stability.
- Physical therapy. Stretching and exercise can help restore healthy biomechanics to your feet and ankles by strengthening supporting muscles, improving joint flexibility and range of motion, and reducing pain. If necessary, we may refer you to a licensed physical therapist if we feel it is the right choice for your situation.
- Reconstructive surgery. In some cases, the fundamental structure of your feet or ankles must be corrected surgically in order to restore normal biomechanics and eliminate pain. Although Dr. Melhuish is an accomplished podiatric surgeon, we still consider this a “last resort” option for situations when orthotic and physical therapy are not effective on their own.
Are you sick of dealing with constant pain in your feet, ankles, knees, legs, hips, or even back? Your biomechanics may be to blame—and we can help.
To schedule an appointment with Sierra Foot & Ankle in Carson City, please call our office at (775) 783-8037 today.