A large portion of patients walking through our clinic door suffer from chronic knee pain which is aggravated by prolong standing, walking or by just simply climbing up and down stairs. Most knee complaints are biomechanical in cause meaning the patient’s posture, whether from the feet up or the pelvis down, plays a significant role towards these conditions. Exceptions to this are direct trauma to the knee(s), or if there are systemic conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis present.
Regardless, a proper biomechanical assessment can detect the cause of most knee conditions without the need of more invasive tests such as x-rays or CT scans. If lower limb aberrant mechanics are detected, custom made orthotics are advised to help correct the problem.
Foot orthotics may be arch support, insert, or other device that fit into your shoes. They can change your foot’s biomechanics and correct misalignment. This can help to ease knee pain, among other things.
Orthotics are made of different materials, depending on what they are trying to accomplish. Rigid orthotics give the most stability and support. Semi-rigid orthotics give stability while offering shock absorption. Soft orthotics provide cushioning.
Orthotics can help knee pain in a variety of ways. Here’s a look at some of them.
By more evenly distributing weight to the bottom of your feet, orthotics can change how stress is distributed through the foot and ankle. Ultimately, this can change the distribution of force through your knee, relieving pain.
- Orthotics can be made of shock-absorbing material that reduces stress through the foot and ankle when you move. Again, this can reduce force through the knee.
- By changing the alignment of your feet and ankles, orthotics can change the alignment of your knees. For instance, orthotics can control excessive pronation (e.g., rolling in) of the foot, which can occur when you walk or run. When your foot pronates too far, it can cause your lower leg and knee to rotate internally. This can cause knee pain. By preventing your foot from improperly pronating, orthotics will improve your knee’s alignment and reduce pain.
- Orthotics can make up for biomechanical or structural issues in your ankles or feet, which in turn can cause knee pain.
- By limiting motion, orthotics can reduce wear and tear on joints–hence less knee pain.
- When you walk or run, inflammation in your foot’s sole (called the plantar fascia) can occur. To compensate, you may walk differently than usual–irritating knee joints. Orthotics can help to promote proper movement.
- When you walk, it’s normal for your ankle to roll away from your body’s midline when your foot springs off the ground. This is called supination. If you have knee pain, however, supination can be excessive. As a result, you can get calluses or blisters. Orthotics can minimize rotation by properly aligning your foot at the ankle joint.
In summary, a 3-D biomechanical gait analysis is one of the most quick and accurate methods developed that can screen out any biomechanical conditions that cause knee pain. If a problem is detected the clinician can then correct the anomaly by building custom made orthotics for the patient.