An O & P Practitioner is a health professional that designs and fabricates braces and artificial limbs for a wide variety of neuromuscular & musculoskeletal disorders of the human body. Prosthetics replace lost limbs to restore function & movement. Orthotics support, align, prevent, or correct disorders of the axial and appendicular skeleton caused by injuries, degenerative conditions, post-surgical patients, and other disorders.
There are several dozen arthritides, but the following are commonly encountered:
Osteoarthritis, frequently called degenerative joint disease, usually occurs as we get older and the cartilage breaks down in our joints. However, osteoarthritis can be accelerated occur in younger individuals who have experienced trauma to their joints. Symptoms include dull, achy type pain. It usually goes away with rest or non-use. Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint in the body.
Rheumatoid Arthritis can be a major crippling disorder in some patients. It usually occurs in a symmetrical pattern. Hands are most common, but other regions including the feet do occur. It may also affect various systems of the body such as the lungs, eyes, heart, and nervous system. Rheumatoid arthritis has a much more acute onset than osteoarthritis. It is characterized by alternating periods of remission and exacerbation. The symptoms last for weeks or months and then they may dissipate and not return for a while.
Gout is a condition caused by the buildup of uric in the body. The excess uric acid forms needle-like crystals (tophi) in tissues and joints. Particularly the joints in the Big toe. Symptoms include sudden episodes of pain that can be severe at times. Nighttime pain is common. Tenderness, redness, and swelling is typical.
The common bunion is a localized area of enlargement or prominence of the inner portion of the joint at the base of the big toe. The enlargement represents a misalignment of the big toe joint. Bunions generally develop when an excess amount of pronation occurs in the foot. The cause of pronation can be the result of trauma, genetic formation, ridged big toe joint, ankle fixation, leg difference, knee deformities, surgeries that failed to get results, various systemic conditions, or due to tightness in the calf muscles. When the foot fails to function properly and excessive pronation occurs, the foot unlocks, and the big toe joint is pulled to the outside by a connecting tendon called the Adductor Hallucis Tendon. As a result, a bunion forms. Typical symptoms are pain when standing or walking.
Corns and calluses are dead skin formations that occurs due to friction of the foot while the foot is in motion. There are two types of corns, soft corns and hard corns. Corns and calluses are due to abnormal friction caused by the foot moving outside its normal movement inside a shoe. This abnormal movement can be caused by a variety of disorders; such as high arches, tight calves, hammer toes, leg length differences, Hallux Rigidus, metatarsalgia, and others. Typical symptoms are the feeling as though you have something inside your shoe. If the calluses grow larger, nerves may get compressed causing pain.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body has lost the ability to properly manage carbohydrates. As a result, elevated levels of glucose occur in the blood and urine. Over time, this may lead to nerve damage (neuropathy). Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish your nerves, especially in your legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning, or pain. Nerve damage in the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Cuts or blisters heal poorly and can develop serious infections. Appropriate socks and footwear are necessary to avoid complications such as surgery.
Flat feet or fallen arches in adults can arise from a variety of causes. They can be bilateral (both feet) or unilateral (one foot is affected). The causes are many: An abnormality that is present from birth, damaged or stretched foot or ankle tendons or ligaments, broken or dislocated bones, arthritis, obesity, pregnancy, diabetes, or nerve disorders. Symptoms may include: Feet that tire easily, pain at the bottom of the foot when standing for extended periods of time, pain when walking distances. If left untreated, knee, hip, or low back pain may arise.
Hallux rigidus is a disorder of the joint located at the base of the big toe. It causes pain and stiffness in the joint, and with time, it gets increasingly harder to bend the toe. Hallux rigidus is actually a form of degenerative arthritis. This disorder can be very troubling and even disabling since we use the big toe whenever we walk, stoop down, climb up or even stand. Many patients confuse hallux rigidus with a bunion, which affects the same joint, but they are very different conditions requiring different treatments. Symptoms include pain and stiffness during use (standing, walking, etc.). Swelling, difficulty wearing shoes. If severe enough pain may occur even at rest.
A hammer toe is a deformity that causes your toe to bend or curl downward instead of pointing forward. This deformity can affect any toe on your foot. It most often affects the second or third toe. Hammertoe is a foot deformity that occurs due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. The type of shoes you wear, foot structure, trauma and certain disease processes can contribute to the development of these deformities. Some symptoms of a hammertoe include: Pain when putting on shoes, corn formation on the top of the toe joint, a swollen toe joint, pain when moving your toe.
Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition that affects the ball of your foot, most commonly the area between your third and fourth toes. Morton’s neuroma involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes. High-heeled shoes have been linked to the development of Morton’s neuroma. Many people experience relief by switching to lower heeled shoes with wider toe boxes. Symptoms may include: A feeling as if you’re standing on a pebble in your shoe, a burning pain in the ball of your foot that may radiate into your toes. You may experience tingling or numbness in your toes.