Numerous muscles, bones and joints in the feet help us move every day. When any number of them is injured by arthritis, resulting pain may be significant. In such cases, orthotics may just be one element to a multipronged treatment approach. Reports say not just any orthotics will do, however.
Custom or not?
Rheumatoid arthritis, in particular, may require chiropractic care, drug therapies, an exercise routine, nutritional advice, orthotics, and traditional medical care. Each patient is individual and responses to various treatments and combinations vary. In most cases, arthritis sufferers need custom orthotics to help alleviate symptoms.
Accommodative and functional orthotics are basically the two kinds to fix biomechanical dysfunction associated with joint disorders, as well. While accommodative tend to be softer and generally help with foot soreness, functional orthotics are often made of thick polymers or even graphite. These work for more severe, pronounced biomechanical issues. Those with arthritis often require custom orthotics with elements of both orthotic attributes.
Pain and limited mobility
Loss of range of motion and swollen joints along with many other symptoms cause pain that makes simply getting through the day difficult. Although regular stretching, muscle building and cardiovascular exercise can improve the condition, it may be difficult for patients to begin an exercise program. For example, most people with rheumatoid arthritis develop problems with their feet, including hammertoes and bunions. An exercise program that includes walking has many benefits, but foot pain may make walking for exercise too uncomfortable. Custom orthotics has been shown to reduce the pain and improve function in approximately 20 to 30 percent of patients across two studies.
Orthotics redistributes weight so sensitive parts of the feet feel less pressure. They can also provide cushioning that relieves stress and can correct gait. Studies have conclusively shown that custom orthotics relieve pain for the majority of people who wear them. Additional studies seem to indicate that custom orthotics cause biomechanical changes that appear to slow the progression of arthritis-related diseases. Scientists do not yet understand how or why those positive changes take place, but it appears to be related to changes in the very fine musculature of the lower extremities.
Pain relief must be a part of any treatment plan, while orthotics provide benefits, further treatment is often necessary. Some people find that drugs are the most effective treatment for pain, but others are uncomfortable with the side effects. Other forms of treatment including massage and chiropractic care may be appropriate for those patients. The Arthritis Foundation recommends patients discuss the use of alternative forms of care with their rheumatologists first, then seek caregivers who have experience in treating people with the disease.