Are foot problems hereditary?

They can be; a hereditary foot problem is one that can be present in family member such as a parent or even grandparent. One can have a structural foot problem, such as Bunions or painful flat feet that can run in the family. In addition to structural foot problems, skin diseases such as Psoriasis can be found among family members; sometimes a weak link in the immune system can be inherited. Conditions like warts and fungal infections, such as fungal nails, can also be found in different generations. As part of a Podiatry exam, family history is explored to find out if the patient is predisposed to certain conditions so preventative measures can be taken.

What are orthotics, and how do they prevent Heel Spurs, Bunions, and Hammertoes?

Orthotics are custom inserts usually made from a plaster mold of the patientís foot. They assist in holding the arch of the foot up during the early stages of gait. This prevents excessive breakdown of the arch of the foot, and thereby allows the tendons and small muscles of the foot to maintain a normal pull. If the foot breaks down too far, the tendons may pull the toes in an abnormal direction, potentially causing bunions, hammertoes, and heel spurs. Orthotics support and maintain normal shape and functionality of the muscles and tendons of the foot.

How does an orthotic differ from an arch support?

One of the biggest differences is that an orthotic is made from a cast of your foot, not just one part of the foot. Many patients misdiagnose themselves with a fallen arch, but this is only indicative of a larger problem in the angle of the foot, which can be measured for and treated with custom orthotics. Orthotics can greatly reduce pain associated with such issues, but itís important that pairs of orthotics are replaced each year or, for less active patients, between 18-24 months to continue the healing effect through adequate support.

Can my chronic low-back pain be related to my feet?

Absolutely! Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under the age of 45 and studies show that 80% of adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Causes can vary and compound each other, but among the most common contributors are unsupported arches and poor biomechanics of the foot. The body needs a stable foundation to distribute weight, absorb shock and support good posture because without it, the body needs to work harder to keep the feet, knees, hips functioning properly. When the foundation of the body starts to break down, i.e. collapsing arches, this triggers a series of compensations up the joint chain that effects knees, pelvis and, you guessed it, your back. Thatís why itís so important to have proper shoes and custom orthotics.