My Aching Feet and Ankles!

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By Andrea Spridgen
Andrea Spridgen

Most people probably don't spend much time thinking about their feet or ankles on a daily basis. But when an injury, ailment, or disability causes pain or disrupts their normal functionality, feet and ankles become a primary concern. We devote this issue to the professionals, problems, and solutions that affect that unique part of our lower limbs.

"Symbiosis: Pedorthists & Podiatrists Working Together" explores the mutually beneficial relationship that can exist when pedorthists and podiatrists partner in patient care. While concern is often raised regarding competition between the two professions, the experts we spoke with say that such a partnership can allow pedorthists to use their knowledge about foot orthotics and specialized footwear to complement the care podiatrists provide, and podiatrists are then free to concentrate their time and energies on the medical and surgical aspects of foot care. A strong pedorthist/podiatrist relationship and a communication loop of shared knowledge about their respective expertise can also improve efficiency and accuracy for both professionals in delivering the best foot orthotic or diabetic footwear for the patient.

In this month's Stepping Out column, Dennis Janisse, CPed, suggests a clinical solution to ease patient discomfort while increasing compliance among those for whom a foot orthotic is insufficient to relieve symptoms but for whom an AFO may be more restrictive than is necessary. As Janisse points out, subtalar-control foot orthoses (SCFOs), when used appropriately, may be a viable solution because they offer the right amount of support, and perhaps just as important, because patients are more likely to use them.

Our Today's Consumer, Mike Woodring, shares how vigilance about his own foot health and an appointment with his podiatrist led to a referral to an O&P practice for an ankle gauntlet. While the gauntlet was prescribed to improve his gait issues related to the effects of mild cerebral palsy, it has also helped to alleviate foot pain from his earlier years in ranching.

Finally, though prosthetic feet and ankles themselves may not have sensation, the results of improved function certainly impact the relative energy expenditure and comfort of the wearers. In "If 'Spring Is King' Why Does a Prosthetic Foot That Absorbs More and Returns Less Energy Allow Users to Walk Faster?," the authors examine research that suggests prosthetic hydraulic foot/ankle systems reduce the metabolic cost of ambulation and reduce pressure at the distal end of the residual limb, among other benefits, compared to non-hydraulic energy storing and returning feet-even though the hydraulic units are heavier.

I wish you happy reading and pain-free feet and ankles!

Congratulations to Mark Watson, CPO, Nopco of Tennessee, Nashville-winner of the The O&P EDGE $25 gift card drawing at the PrimeFare East meeting.