What Is a Foot Analysis?

Getting a foot analysis by a pedorthist

Foot Analysis Scan
Foot Analysis Scan. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Do you need motion control shoes, arch supports, or high-end shoe inserts? Walkers often wonder how to find the right shoe and how to modify it with inserts to get the best fit and comfort.

While a serious running shoe store can do some basic analysis to put you into a neutral or motion control shoe, you may want to go further to get a foot analysis by a pedorthist. Certified pedorthists are able to modify shoes and inserts to help achieve the best fit and support.

A foot analysis can help people who are having foot pain to get the best fit and support from their footwear. Foot analysis of various kinds is available at athletic footwear stores and at specialty foot care stores such as the Foot Solutions chain.

We interviewed Dr. Bill Faddock DPM, C. Ped, the Director of Pedorthic Education at Foot Solutions, Inc. and Ray Margiano, founder of Foot Solutions about foot analysis.

Q: What is a foot analysis?

A: A foot analysis is a process whereby the customer is placed on one of three different devices that measure pressure points and the topography of the foot. This allows the operator to gain a deeper understanding of the structure of the foot and it function. Combined with verbal information from the customer about their foot discomfort and/or specific needs and the visual analysis, this gives the pedorthist information about any abnormal function, while also giving the pedorthist a better insight into the footwear needs of the customer.

Q: Where is a foot analysis done besides at Foot Solutions stores?

A: There are other pedorthic facilities that use this or other type of analysis equipment. There are also some places that have a system that does a very simplified scan of the foot and then recommends a product which is attached in the side of the machine.

These, however, are not customized.

Q: What is the training or certification of the person who performs it?

A: All personnel receive an approved certification course in all aspects of pedorthics at an approved pedorthic education facility.Foot Solutions' personnel and staff must go through an approved C-Ped certification course at a facility approved by either of the two certifications boards for C-Peds in the USA. These are The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC) or Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer. Certification is issued by NCOPE (The National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education)."

Q: What equipment is used to do it?

A: The two primary pieces of equipment are 1) Amfit and 2) Digital Analysis Scanner. The Amfit produces a topographical analysis of the foot, mapping its contours in tenths of a millimeter. The DAS machine combines a pressure analysis along with a gait analysis. Both pieces of equipment provide the pedorthist with a clearer picture of the function of the foot and its pressure areas.

Q: How long does it take to do a foot analysis?

A: The analyses take about 15 minutes each, with a comprehensive explanation given to each customer, however long that may take, for them to have a clear understanding of the finding(s) of the analysis just preformed and recommendations.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: Both types of analysis are carried out free of charge at Foot Solutions stores. Since there is no fee, there is nothing to charge to an insurer or Medicare. The follow-up shoes or custom inserts are, however, covered by many insurance policies. The shoes and custom inserts for diabetics are covered by Medicare (the sufferer must present a certificate of need and prescription from their doctor treating the diabetic condition to qualify for this program.)

Q: What sort of report do I get from it? How do I use the information?

A: The information is used by the pedorthist to illustrate the suspected problem areas of the foot. This allows the pedorthist to further explain to the client the most best approach to reducing or eliminating the discomfort experience by the client.

Q: Is this just a ruse to sell me expensive shoes or inserts?

A: This is a free service and people are under no obligation to purchase anything. However, many of the people who avail themselves of the foot screening have come to us because their feet hurt: the scan is used to pinpoint the areas of abnormal pressure and friction that can be the (or part of the) problem.

The foot analysis is free, so if you have a foot problem or concern and would like to learn more about what solutions may be available to treat foot pain or certain conditions, a foot analysis is an easy and no-cost way of doing so.

My Foot Analysis

I have had my gait analyzed visually by athletic shoe experts many times over the years, with the consensus that I have a neutral gait. But I also have a bunion and need properly fitted shoes to prevent irritating it and getting foot pain. I went to a local Foot Solutions store for their foot analysis. The pedorthist was very helpful in explaining the imaging devices and going through the analysis. It was useful to find out that my gait was indeed neutral -- I didn't need motion control shoes. We discussed different shoe inserts and cushions but the final recommendation was that I might benefit from a small pad on the insert of my left shoe, but overall I didn't need any special products.

This experience was reassured me that I could make good shoe selections based on the feel and comfort of the shoes and didn't need further modifications or expensive inserts. The pedorthist explained that he aims to develop a relationship with his customers. People with diabetes or foot conditions will be repeat customers for many years if they get relief from their pain or are able to prevent foot problems.

Is Foot Analysis a Useful Procedure?

The foot analysis performed at Foot Solutions stores and by scanning devises such as Dr. Scholls Footmapping kiosks is becoming more widespread. Is this a useful and valid analysis? We asked Dr. Robert Eckles, Dean, Graduate Medical and Clinical Education and Associate Professor, Department of Orthopedic Sciences at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. He is a member of the New York State Podiatric Medical Association.

"The use of devices such as these is not new. Podiatrists and others have utilized pressure sensing systems for treatment of patients and for research for many. many years. The critical issue, I believe, is in the interpretation of the information generated. As one can get a blood pressure reading in a pharmacy, the information provided by these systems may be clinically useful, or not, depending on who reviews it and is not in itself, diagnostic. The systems cannot specify 'why' such data is observed."

"As a tool for determining where pressure points exist on the foot, the devices clearly signal where these sites exist. But let’s be clear, only a licensed practitioner can take the next step (pardon), to determine why this is the case and whether or not the issue is medically significant."

"In addition, the specific technologies mentioned do not all provide similar information. For example, the AMFIT system is capable of rendering a 3-D image or model of the foot.

The other systems you note cannot. This means that decisions may be made based on 2-D imaging supplemented with a 'treatment algorithm' which is, I feel, synonymous with the word approximation. Where these devices are used to produce a product such as a foot orthosis, only a 3-D image of the foot is acceptable, and this can only be obtained through impression casting, 3-D laser scanning, or by using the peg system that AMFIT employs.

Production of such a device using pressure sensing technology is at best an approximation."

What A Podiatrist Can Do

"As podiatrists, we are trained (and here, train our students) to think beyond what is outwardly visible, so that a professional interpretation of findings can be done, and this involves gait examination and evaluation of the entire lower limb mechanics and morphology. This is the only way in which a diagnosis (and this is what the foot–sore public needs) can be obtained."

Better Than Nothing?

"I am not opposed to facilities using technology to better fit shoes; in an era of 'find and fit yourself', it is good to see attention paid to the topic. The limitations to such use is that data is just data unless it’s understood and utilized by individuals who are trained to make diagnoses." More: When to Call a Podiatrist

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