At NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, physical therapists specialize in evaluating the mechanics of the foot and ankle. Foot and ankle problems may be the cause of many other aches and pains in the knees, hips and low back. An examination of the way the bones, joints, and tendons of the feet move and absorb the shock and weight of walking or running is necessary to determining proper treatment.
A proper biomechanical foot evaluation typically takes 2, one-hour sessions to complete. This includes an examination, observation and analysis of gait (walking), exercise instruction, manual therapy techniques, instruction in proper shoe wear and if necessary, prescription for foot orthotics (shoe inserts).
A prescription for orthotics might include the fabrication of temporary orthotics as well as casting for a permanent pair. There are two types of orthotics: biomechanical and accommodative. Biomechanical orthotics control excessive and harmful joint movements by changing the position and mechanics of the foot during walking or running. Accommodative orthotics do not control motion but help the foot to compensate for a structural problem. They help to cushion the foot, absorb shock and distribute weight more evenly. The physical therapist will determine which type is the most beneficial for the patient in terms of the overall goals of decreasing pain and maximizing function.