How to Make Walking Easy… Even if it Hurts Right Now (The Common Causes and Treatment Options for Ankle Pain)

Bethlehem Chiropractor for foot and leg painLots of the activities we do require us to be on our feet and be able to spring into action, even walking. It doesn’t always feel like you are “springing” because you may have pain in your feet, ankles, or knees.

You may also feel like you’re just pounding on the ground as you walk. But “springing” is likely what you are still doing if your ankle anatomy is largely intact. The springing action your ankle is built for is what you want to promote more of if you want to walk much easier without pain.

One of the biggest springing forces in your ankle comes from your large ankle tendon called the Achilles tendon. It is poised to spring you forward with little input from your muscles during your normal everyday walking motion.

The problem that leads to painful walking and losing that spring in your step is when you repeatedly strain or overexert the tendon while walking. This can lead to a condition called Achilles tendonitis or inflammation of the Achilles tendon.

Achilles tendonitis is a common condition among runners and other athletes; however, any person who just shifts their daily habits a little bit may experience tendonitis of the Achilles tendon. Often this occurs if the body is not ready for a new type of movement because of joints being jammed in the ankle, foot or knee or because of a lack of flexibility in the leg muscles.

Common Causes of Injury that Affects Walking

The most common cause of injury to the Achilles tendon is simply due to repeated or overexerted use that leads to strain of the tendon. Strain means the tendon gets small tears which can lead to a buildup of scar tissue which threatens to reduce your flexibility for good.

A strain in your tendons (like the Achilles) starts gradually and it is usually felt as minor twinges to a stiff/painful sensation that emanates from the back of the heel to the calf. Common causes leading up to the injury include:

  • Repeated and sudden ankle, knee, hip and back use that you are not prepared for (Your body isn’t ready- you haven’t stretched or gotten the necessary chiropractic adjustments that reintroduces the proper motion in the joints so you move better)
  • Direct trauma to a muscle or tendon
  • Wearing inadequate footwear
  • Supination (when the foot rolls outward) and over-pronation (when the foot rolls inward)
  • Being overweight
  • People suffering from diabetes, arthritis, and gout are at greater risk of Achilles Tendonitis along with other conditions that can affect walking

If Walking Hurts Right Now:

The best treatment options include keeping your body flexible as well as reintroducing good ankle, knee, or hip motion into your joints through chiropractic adjustments.

  1. The work you can do to improve it: To improve flexibility you need to dedicate a couple of minutes a day for a few days to stretch your ankles, hips and calves. You can stretch your calves by bending your ankle and using a large exercise band to pull your forefoot and toes up so they’re pointing towards your face.
  2. The instant improvement: Improving your ankle joint movement can be instantaneous when you get an adjustment from your Chiropractor. You can feel and see the benefits right away.
  3. If you are injured: Make sure you get plenty of rest throughout the healing process. You’ll need to rest the injured area by refraining from exercise that puts strain on the tendon. This rest period usually lasts for a few weeks but it could be longer based on the severity of the injury. If you have injured a tendon or muscle and the pain is severe, you may also apply ice to the tendon or area that hurts for approximately 20 minutes at a time. This is useful especially after any exercise or feelings of pain.

To manage pain, it’s important to make sure you know what your diagnosis is, for example, that it is in fact Achilles tendonitis rather than something else like a small fracture. Once you have a diagnosis, the best treatment methods can be given as well as prevention steps for avoiding future episodes of pain or injury.

How to Make Walking Easy

It is possible to prevent Achilles Tendonitis and make walking easy- the number one method is to stretch and get motion into your ankles and legs prior to any ‘out of the norm’ day where you know you’ll be taxing your ankles and feet more. Chiropractic adjustments give an instantaneous burst of motion that just feels right. Arch supports and heel cups can also help keep your foot in proper alignment thus alleviating strain on the tendon.

Depending on the severity, problems such as Achilles Tendonitis can take just a few weeks or several months to heal fully. It’s important to seek proper care otherwise you could end up with chronic ankle pain or stiffness. If you’re on the mend from an Achilles injury or concerned about falling victim to such an injury, contact Dr. Nicole Muschett for a complimentary Foot, Ankle, and Knee Pain Consultation today.

The Top 3 Reasons You Are Suffering with Swollen Fingers, Ankles and Feet

Swollen feet Bethlehem PA ChiropractorThere is nothing more devastating than trying to get dressed up nicely in the morning and feeling like you look heavier than usual because of your body retaining too much water. Your clothes are tighter and you feel bloated and sluggish.

Water retention can be embarrassing!

Often you’ll also notice that you can’t wear your rings or your ankles have swollen twice their normal size.

Water retention, also known as fluid retention, is the culprit and it isn’t uncommon. In fact, a large majority of women suffer from it. If you are suffering from water retention, it is likely because of one of these three common reasons. And, the good news is you have options for stopping it.

Water Retention Is Normal

Your body naturally leaks fluids from the blood into the tissue. In fact, you need it for your body to thrive. Once the cells in your tissues have enough fluid, the water is supposed to be reabsorbed into your blood, but when it’s not, you suffer from water retention. Most likely, you’ll notice the retention in your lower legs, fingers and ankles — especially if you sit for long periods of time.

The Three Common Causes of Water Retention

  1. Improper Lymphatic System Function – Your lymphatic system comprises of small tubes that help drain fluids from your tissues. When the system isn’t working properly or is overwhelmed, fluid backs up — similar to the pipes in your house.
  2. Too Much Salt or Hormones – Salt naturally attracts water, which means the more salt in your diet, the more water your body retains. Also, hormone levels — such as being pregnant or taking birth control pills — can cause you to retain more water than normal.
  3. Underlying Medical Condition – Conditions like kidney disease, lung disease or even heart failure can lead to water retention. That is why it is important to always consult a professional for water retention to rule out serious medical conditions.

There is Hope for Water Retention Sufferers so the bloating and swelling stops!

Obviously feeling sluggish and bloated and can significantly affect your quality of life, especially if it is a chronic condition. Luckily, there is hope if you’re suffering from it. By controlling your fluid retention you can feel better, more fit and relaxed.

Some things you can try at home to reduce fluid retention include:

  • Drink more water to help flush out the salt.
  • Reduce the number of salty foods you eat every day.
  • Wear supportive shoes and stockings.
  • Take vitamin B5 and B6 to help reduce fluids in your tissues.
  • Stay hydrated — a dehydrated body retains fluid.
  • Consult a professional.

Significant water retention can actually cause other issues, like pain in the feet, ankles and knees. If you think you may be suffering from water retention or wonder if it’s due to something else, we (your Bethlehem, PA chiropractor) can help. Meet with Dr. Nicole M. or download her free report “10 Questions to Determine if You Are Heading Towards a Foot, Ankle, or Knee Injury…and How to Prevent it.

4 Causes of Heel Pain and How a Bethlehem, PA Chiropractor Can Help

heel pain natural cures Bethlehem PA ChiropractorIf you have chronic pain in your heel, you are likely to suffer from Achilles tendonitis or inflammation of the Achilles tendon. It can be a very painful, uncomfortable condition that makes it hard to function in everyday life—let alone allowing you to stay active.

There are some common causes of this condition; luckily, many of them can be avoided so that you can become and remain pain-free much quicker.

Check out these four common causes for Achilles tendonitis and see if your cure just requires one of these quick lifestyle changes.

What is the Achilles tendon?

The Achilles is the largest tendon in your body and it is prone to injury more than any other tendon. This is because it is also one of the most used tendons. It has to manage a great deal of force from your own weight and many of your daily body motions.

If you have tendonitis of your Achilles, it usually starts with a twinge or stiff feeling in the area — the back area of your calf where it connects to the heel. You might notice more pain in the morning or when you walk after prolonged sitting. Even though the pain subsides after using the tendon for a little bit, it is only because you have stretched it — it doesn’t mean it is healed.

If you ignore the signs of tendonitis, it can become worse and start exhibiting burning, sharp pains or shooting pains up and down the leg. Once this occurs, you might find it difficult to perform day-to-day tasks and doing the things you love.

The Four Common Causes of Achilles Tendonitis (heel pain)

  1. Overuse – When you use the Achilles too much, it can become strained. If that strain doesn’t heal properly, it leads to painful tendonitis.
  2. Overpronation – This occurs when your foot rolls into the arch of the foot — making your Achilles stretch more than it normally does. This is very common in people with flat feet. If you wear high heels a lot during the day, it can actually shorten your Achilles tendon, so when you wear flat shoes or running shoes you will overstretch your Achilles.
  3. Short Calf Muscles – Even if you don’t wear heels, short calf muscles can cause your Achilles to tighten and when stretched, small tears form, which reduces your flexibility and increases your risk for tendonitis.
  4. Inadequate Footwear – Sometimes Achilles tendonitis is caused by wearing the wrong type of footwear. When you do, you can cause supination, which is when the foot rolls out instead of in.

If you are overweight or suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis or gout you might also have Achilles tendonitis without any additional reason.

How our Chiropractic Care helps (in Bethlehem, PA)

When Achilles tendonitis does occur, you can quickly become overwhelmed. Your life is limited, your mobility is non-existent and you’re in pain when you try to go about your normal day to day activities.

Luckily, there is relief. We always assess your tendonitis issue and not only create a proven plan to treat it, but we locate the cause of your specific pain.

We don’t just prescribe medications and send you on your way. Instead, we take a holistic approach and get to the root of the problem — rather than covering it up which could result in your body sustaining an injury indefinitely.

Meet with Dr. Nicole Muschett today for a foot, ankle and knee pain consultation and see how she can help you treat and relieve your Achilles tendonitis for good.

6 Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Heel Spur Pain

heel spur treatment bethlehem chiropractorHeel spurs can be very painful.  Sometimes the pain is so bad that it prevents walking and disturbs sleep. Because of the severity, medical treatment can include steroid injections directly to the bottom of the foot or even surgery.

Before it gets this bad however, it’s best to check out the conservative treatment options you can turn to so you can stop the problem in its tracks.

A heel (or calcaneal) spur is a small buildup of calcium on the calcaneus (heel) bone of the foot. When the back of the foot is subjected to continuous pressure, calcium deposits can build up on the heel bone. This is not usually a problem, but over time more deposits may continue to develop on top of each other, forming a heel spur.

This may be your issue if you have persistent pain in your heel or on the bottom of your foot. It can be so bad that you may experience difficulty placing weight on the back of the foot.

Heel spurs can be inferior, occurring underneath the heel which causes pain when you step on something hard. They may also be located at the top of your heel at the back of the calcaneal bone, near the Achilles tendon.  This is right above the backing of your shoe.

How do you know if it’s a heel spur or a different type of foot pain?

Heel spurs are diagnosed via x-rays that show the characteristic hook-shaped buildup on the heel. Heel spurs commonly occur in patients who have suffered from plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the plantar fascia, or foot arch), particularly over long periods of time. They can also occur, however, in patients with no history of this condition.

Plantar fasciitis is closely associated with heel spurs. They are often considered the same condition, but plantar fasciitis involves the tendon at the bottom of the heel, as opposed to a heel spur which relates to the heel bone itself. Tension and inflammation of the plantar fascia can lead to small calcium deposits on the heel bone which forms the bone spur. Often, the bone spur itself is not painful, but rather it’s an indicator that the person has had long-standing plantar fasciitis which is the real cause of the pain.

Other causes of heel spurs are linked to: obesity, a condition called childhood ankylosing spondylitis, and the persistent wearing of high-heeled shoes.

Chiropractic treatment is your effective and non-surgical option to stop heel spur pain. It usually consists of the following:

  1. Clear advice of how to avoid exacerbating the condition.  Preventative and curative advice includes wearing supportive shoes (rather than high-heels) and avoiding walking around barefoot or running on hard surfaces.
  2. Treatment with ultrasound and ice may also be used. This can painlessly break up the tough tissue that is causing the heel spurs.
  3. Exercises to stretch the muscles of the calf and bottom portion of the foot may be recommended to help reduce tension and inflammation.
  4. Possible deep-tissue massage of the foot to release tension in the plantar fascia.
  5. In some cases, the leg may be splinted at night, which is similar to a temporary caste, holding it in a specific position in order to further stretch the calf.
  6. Specifically fitted orthotic arch supports may also be advised for use in your everyday shoes, especially when plantar fasciitis symptoms and pain are constant.

When heel spur pain is disturbing your sleep or preventing you from walking, an analgesic medication may aid in comfort, but will not solve the underlying problem. In extreme cases that have existed for a long time, steroid injections and surgery may be necessary. Heel spurs usually respond well to conservative chiropractic treatment and should be addressed as soon as possible to decrease the extraordinary measures of treatment needed.

Contact us for a specific “Foot, Knee and Leg evaluation” where we determine what is causing your foot pain and talk to you about how to eliminate your pain quickly and effectively.

5 Ways to Tell if Barefoot Running is Right for You

The latest in performance footwear isn’t on display at America’s elite university track meets, on the basketball court or football field either.  This is because the most recent innovation in athletic shoes (at least among a small but growing community of hardcore running enthusiasts) is… not wearing any at all!

For a majority of runners considering or actively experimenting with barefoot running, it’s not about trying to rediscover their inner caveman.  Rather, they do this to finally improve running comfort, reduce wear and tear on their bodies and add years to their active running lives.

A 2009 bestselling book called “Born to Run”, written by Christopher McDougall, evangelizes barefoot running and ties many of our species’ running-related maladies to the use of shoes.  But does running barefoot actually solve the problem?  And do the obvious risks outweigh the potential benefits?

The idea is controversial among medical researchers and healthcare providers as well as among runners themselves.  Evidence today doesn’t point clearly in one direction or the other.  In fact, the leading researchers on the topic at Harvard University’s Skeletal Biology Lab are careful to point out that none of the information they present is meant to answer questions about how people should run and whether running barefoot or with shoes is any more likely to cause(or prevent) any particular type of injury.

Here is what to consider if you’re thinking about barefoot running:

  1. Shoes change the way we run.  For example, long-time shoe wearers (that’s most Americans) tend to take longer strides and land further back on the foot, producing a harder heel strike that would be uncomfortable or painful without shoes.  Shoe wearers also generally lean forward more.  By contrast, experienced barefoot runners are far more likely to have a forefoot or midfoot strike and will tend to run in a more upright position which can be good for your joints throughout your body.
  2. Your body has adapted to running with shoes. The fact that most Americans wear shoes from an early age means that our bodies adapt to it.  We’ve likely each adapted in a couple of different ways the most important is that we’ve learned to move differently when we wear shoes that absorb the impact and protect us from cuts and scrapes. This caused different muscles of our body to strengthen (or weaken) in the process.  If you’ve “grown up” running in modern athletic shoes (which enable long strides and hard heel strikes), it’s unlikely that your feet and calves have the same muscle strength as a those of an experienced barefoot runner.  It’s also unlikely that you have the same sorts of calluses.
  3. Shoe wearers often take harder steps that can stress the bones and joints of the entire body. The way you’ve learned to walk in shoes may have caused a greater impact and force distributed and absorbed through the body.  Research suggests that the hard heel strike creates a higher-frequency impact that tends to move upward through a runner’s bones, while the lower-frequency impact of landing on the forefoot travels through the muscles and soft tissue.
  4. A comfortable change to your running style can take time. The last thing you want to do is inadvertently increase the risk of injury in the course of trying to prevent others. A drastic change in running style that your body hasn’t adapted to can up the odds of sprains, strains, tendonitis or stress fractures. This doesn’t mean that you can’t do something different, but it does mean that you should be smart about making a change. It can take time for you to adjust your form and for your body to adjust.  For this reason, if you are going to try another style of running, I advise that you pay close attention to your technique.  Your own body will provide some feedback on your progress, but allow some time to ease into it and evaluate how you’re doing.
  5. Form trumps all else. Whether you choose to run in shoes or to run barefoot, good form matters.  And it matters a lot.  Countless coaches and trainers have gone on the record saying that bad form contributes to more running-related injuries than any other single factor.  Dr. Daniel Lieberman recently provided a wonderful quote to Gretchen Reynolds of the New York Times:

“Humans may have been built to run barefoot, but we did not evolve to run barefoot with bad form.”

If you’re a runner looking to try something new, especially if you are experiencing pain or have a history of injury, we can help. We’re experienced in evaluating the proper movement of your foot, ankle, hip and full body as they relate to each other, so you feel light, flexible and pain-free all over.

You can keep running at your best without the pain and find out what works best for your body so you stay active for a long time. Contact us for a free foot and ankle consultation.