March 15, 2018

Chiropractic and Foot Wellness

Articles by Dr. Erdman are for informational purposes, and are not to be taken as specific medical advice.

When people think of chiropractic care, they would say we work with the spine, understandably. Chiropractors have an extraordinary amount of research proving our conservative approach to spinal problems are effective, safe, and cost a lot less than medical treatment.

Most people can tell you the major conditions we are known to treat: headaches, neck pain, and low back pain. Treatments for herniated discs, arm pain, sciatic pain, and rib/thoracic pain are just a few of the less well known conditions we treat effectively every day. We have very effective treatment for the symptoms of headache, neck pain, and dizziness associated with post-concussion neck and head trauma.

But, have you ever heard that chiropractors can treat almost any joint in the body? Shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles, and toes can all become malpositioned and need adjusted. I’m going to focus on the foot and ankle in this article.

Foot and ankle injuries are by far the most common athletic injury. They account for at least 25% of injuries in the top 19 sports. 44% of injuries of runners involve the foot; 63% of running injuries occur to people between 20 and 40 years old.  And those numbers represent only those who seek care for their injuries.  How many times have you sprained an ankle and never sought care?  Probably several, which means those numbers are a lot higher than reported. 

Have you ever sprained an ankle? Studies show 92% of all people have. Have you ever heard of shin splints, tarsal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, chondromalacia patella, Osgood-Schlatters, ACL tears, and low back pain? All involve issues stemming from the feet. A full 88% of all low back pain is due to a structural loss of integrity between the spine and the lower extremities.  It could be at the foot, knee, hip, pelvis, or sacrum.

In other words, the foundation of our entire musculoskeletal system starts at the feet. Leg length discrepancy, foot pronation, knee position, tibial torsion, and hip motion asymmetry are all places of functional issues causing pain.

The calcaneus of the foot, or heel, is the bone that sits right under the shin bone, the tibia. When you have an ankle injury, the calcaneus is most likely to be affected. Malposition of the heel causes pronation of the foot, or flattened arches. When this happens, structural integrity from there up is affected. The tibia twists outward, pushing the knee inward; then the femur twists outward exerting undue forward pressure on the hip joint. The pelvis then rotates backward; the sacrum rotates creating a wedge to the opposite side initiating a curve in the low back. And that’s how everything is connected!

Sure, you probably couldn’t follow any of that, but you now know that a simple ankle injury can cause you low back pain or anything in between. Even ankle injuries from decades ago, if never corrected in the foot, can and do cause problems.

Degenerate conditions of the knee and hip can, and often do, start in the foot. You see, any joint that is not properly aligned has an inflammatory response. One of the enzymes released by a damaged joint is called a lysozyme. Lysozymes eat cartilage. Loss of cartilage leads to loss of joint space, which, over time, causes bone to contact bone. When the doctor says you have arthritis of a joint, therein lays the mechanism of how you got to that point.

So, how should you treat the injuries you get? First, treat the acute tissue damage, then make sure the joints are working properly by asking your chiropractor to check them. Once things are fixed up, wearing functional orthotics to stabilize the foot or treat a short leg are essential to maintaining structural integrity, balance, and physical athletic performance. You can’t perform well if your body doesn’t function properly from the feet on up!

I have seen years of pain subside by working on the base of the skeletal system, the foot. If you have foot, knee, hip, or low back pain, get to the chiropractor who can work on those areas.