What Is a Foot Analysis?

Getting a foot analysis by a pedorthist

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.

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

What Is a Foot Analysis?

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 its 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.

Where Is a Foot Analysis Done?

Besides Foot Solutions stores, there are other pedorthic facilities that use foot 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. An example of a simplified scan is the Dr. Scholls FootMapping kiosk, which recommends their off-the-rack orthotic insoles.

Training or Certification for Foot Analysis

All personnel at Foot Solutions 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).

Equipment and Analysis

The equipment used produces a topographical analysis of the foot, mapping its contours in tenths of a millimeter. There may also be an instrument that combines a pressure analysis along with a gait analysis. This provides the pedorthist with a clearer picture of the function of the foot and its pressure areas.

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 findings of the analysis just performed and recommendations.

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 best approach to reducing or eliminating their foot discomfort.

Cost

Foot analysis is carried out free of charge at Foot Solutions stores. There is no obligation to purchase anything. Since there is no fee, there is nothing to charge to an insurer or Medicare. The results may lead to a recommendation for an insole, shoe, or shoe modifications. The follow-up shoes or custom inserts are, however, covered by many insurance policies. The shoes and custom inserts for people with diabetes are covered by Medicare (the person must present a certificate of need and prescription from their doctor treating the diabetic condition to qualify for this program.)

Is Foot Analysis a Useful Procedure?

The foot analysis performed at Foot Solutions stores and by scanning devices such as Dr. Scholls Footmapping kiosks is becoming more widespread. Is this a useful and valid analysis? Dr. Robert Eckles, Dean, Graduate Medical and Clinical Education and Associate Professor, Department of Orthopedic Sciences at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine gives his opinion. 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 do not all provide similar information. For example, the AMFIT system is capable of rendering a 3-D image or model of the foot. Some other systems 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

Dr. Eckles says, "As podiatrists, we are trained 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 footsore public needs) can be obtained."

Better Than Nothing?

Dr. Eckles says, "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 limitation to such use is that data is just data unless it’s understood and utilized by individuals who are trained to make diagnoses."

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