If you have chronic problems with knee, back, or hip pain, the problem might be the way you walk or some other issue your podiatrist can help you with. Podiatry is more than helping you with foot pain. There are tests the podiatrist can do to analyze the way you bear your weight and walk or run. The tests give the podiatrist a lot of information about how your body is impacted by the way your weight is distributed. Here's a look at how gait analysis can be done and how a podiatrist might treat a gait problem.
Why A Gait Analysis Might Be Done
A gait analysis can be done for a number of reasons. You might want an assessment of the way you bear weight when you run to improve your sports performance. Your doctor might order a gait analysis for a medical condition since neurological problems present themselves with changes to your gait. However, a common reason for gait analysis is to find out if you have a biomechanical problem with your feet that causes you to bear your weight in a way that strains your body. A gait analysis can also determine if small abnormalities with your body have an effect on the way you walk and put pressure on your knees, hips, and spine.
How A Gait Analysis Is Done
Gait analysis involves a series of tests done on sophisticated equipment that gives your podiatrist a lot of data about your body. You may walk on a special mat that records how you bear your weight. It can tell if most of your weight falls to one side of your foot or the other or if it's evenly distributed.
You'll have a video recording made of you walking so it can be slowed down and studied. You might have sensors placed on your muscles to detect which muscles are underutilized and which ones are strained while you walk. The tests will be done while you stand, walk, and run.
The podiatrist may use lights that pinpoint the location of your hips so they can watch how they stay level or change position as you walk. This could give clues to the source of your back pain. They might also have a walkway that records you walking or running several steps to tell how your weight falls with each step and how your knees, ankles, and hips stay aligned.
What Treatments Your Podiatrist May Recommend
Your podiatrist might recommend physical therapy and treatment of an underlying medical condition if it's the cause of your gait issue. However, gait problems can often be corrected through orthopedic shoes or orthotics. Your podiatrist can have custom shoe inserts made for problems like pronation and supination. You might even need orthopedic shoes that control the motion of your feet.
If one leg is shorter than the other, the podiatrist can order custom shoes with one shoe having a thicker sole so your legs are even. Some gait problems and pain may be helped by wearing shoes or orthotics with arch support. Once the gait abnormality is corrected, you may notice a relief in your chronic knee, back, or hip pain that was caused by strain due to the way you were walking.
Contact a local podiatry office to learn more.