When you were growing up, did you ever sing the “Dem Bones” song?
You know the one; it goes like this: “The toe bone’s connected to the foot bone; the foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone; the ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone; now shake dem skeleton bones!”
Even though a large number of us sang this catchy little tune way back then just because it was fun, it still taught us a very important lesson when it comes to our body: Everything is interconnected, so when one part of it is out of place, it can dramatically affect another area.
This is why correcting your known foot issues is critical to total body health and wellness. Fortunately, there are a few different classes of orthotics that can help do the job.
Foot orthosis are designed to correct any biomechanical abnormalities in the foot. This means that if you don’t have enough arch or your gait is off at all, an orthotic device can be put in your shoe to help correct the issue and potentially save you from a lot of pain not only in your foot, but also in other areas like your knee and lower back. Common foot orthosis include heel cushions, heel wedges and flares, extended heels, shoe lifts, sole wedges, and more.
Also called a foot drop brace, ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) are defined by MedicineNet.com as “a brace, usually made of plastic, that is worn on the lower leg and foot to support the ankle, hold the foot and ankle in the correct position and correct foot drop.” Essentially, this type of orthosis is generally worn to support a weak ankle area due to issues such as arthritis or a fracture, or to correct any abnormality in ankle structure.
There are four types of AFO’s:
- Flexible AFO – Although it may seem as if a flexible AFO is one that is, well, flexible, it actually references the fact that there is less plastic in the ankle region. This type of AFO is good for foot drops that do not involve any weakness in the knee area, but it does not offer stabilization of the subtalar joint.
- Anti-Talus AFO – Anti-talus AFOs do not stabilize the subtalar joint either, but they do keep the ankle from moving.
- Rigid AFO – Rigid AFOs also prevent your ankle from moving but, unlike the previous two, they do stabilize the subtalar joint, helping to control its movement.
- Tamarack Flexure Joint AFO – Tamarack flexure AFOs offer subtalar joint stabilization while enabling upward movement of the foot and limiting flexing of the plantar fascia.
Knee, ankle, and foot orthosis
The final class of foot orthosis is the knee, ankle, and foot orthosis (KAFO). This corrective device offers support to the entire lower leg region in an effort to improve your gait. These can be made of plastic, leather, or metal and are typically worn by individuals who have weaker than normal knees.