Why Do I have Pain in One Foot Only?

Don’t take it personally, you’re in good company.  Most of us are created, well, somewhat unevenly.  And how does this affect my NYC podiatry patients?  More often than not, patients present with unilateral pain, that is, pain on one foot only.  And almost invariably, the painful foot is the longer foot, attached to the longer leg.  In fact, one leg is longer than the other in up to 96% of the population.

For the most part, we are not symmetrical.  From head to toe, when comparing one side of the body to the other, some parts are bigger, longer, or may hang higher or lower.  And one leg is longer than the other.  This is usually apparent to me as my NYC podiatry patients are sitting in the chair, much to the surprise of the patient at my deductive and diagnostic skills.  But it is just obvious, to reveal a trade secret, as one leg hangs lower than the other.  The longer foot, attached to the longer leg, also has a lower arch.  And this is because, to compensate for the leg length discrepancy, the foot pronates more, reducing the arch height and exerting more pressure on the longer leg.  This pressure is transmitted up the chain - to the knee, hips and back.  And that is why patients present with pain on the longer foot almost 96% of the time.

So what can we do for this most common of human inequalities?  Well my young NYC podiatry patient, that is where custom foot orthotics work their magic.  A lift is generally added to the short side, thus compensating for the limb length inequality.  And this is not just beneficial to the foot, it also has been demonstrated to relieve back pain in patients with a history of lower back pain and a demonstrated limb length inequality.

So my friends, do not hide from your asymmetry, embrace it, and better yet, compensate for it.  It may just relieve your lower extremity pain from heel to back.

See you in the office.

Ernest Isaacson

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