Something a little different for a change: Case Management of a Post Surgical Foot

In this series, we will follow the progress of a post surgical, post rehab foot. These are the actual case notes and you can follow our thought process as we move along. 

History:

JM presented with left-sided content foot pain. On July 24 she broke her left navicular and cuboid (pretty unusual, as these fractures are rare. Navicular fractures are usually stress fractures (1), occurring in about .6% of fractures in one study (2).  Cuboid fractures are also rare and occur in less than 1.8 per 100,000 (3) ) She also tore the reticular ligaments. this happened when she fell down the stairs, inverting and plantar flexing the foot.

She has had extensive physical therapy as well as plate fixation of the navicular but is still having constant discomfort; she feels a pinching and shock like sensation in the right arch, particularly when loading the foot (whenever you hear about a "shock like pain, begin thinking about nerve related pain). She has been on gabapentin in the past which helped but she stopped it 3 weeks ago with no regression of her symptoms. She feels frustrated.

She was in physical therapy until the end of December. She has continued with exercises consisting of plantar flexion/toe raises, mobilization and inversion/eversion, squats/lunges as well as massage. She has improved but not completely better. She is able to hike 4-5 miles with little pain (boy, those Colorado women are tough!). The foot generally feels better with non weight bearing and rest as well as avoiding impact. The foot feels stiff in the morning and  she limps for the first 10 minutes after getting out of bed. Most recently she has had x-rays at VSO with Dr. X.

What did we find?

There was swelling noted over the extensor digitorum brevis with significant weakness of it as well as the extensor longus. No sensory deficits, reflexes intact. She had an anatomically short left short leg which appeared to be functional. There was a scar visible over the dorsum of the foot approximately 2 inches in length (see photos) and some discoloration lateral just anterior to the lateral malleolus. palpation along the medial plantar nerve revealed increased sensitivity below the navicular and into the medial heel. 

She has external tibial torsion bilaterally and limited eversion of the forefoot on the right. Her cuboid was moving appropriately but talonavicular articulation was not. She has adequate hip extension, 15+ degrees and ankle dorsiflexion bilaterally in excess of 15 degrees.

One leg standing with eyes open was less than 10 seconds. Loss of flexion and extension about the L SI joint. 

no x rays available for this visit

What we think was wrong:

Left foot pathomechanics (talonavicular) secondary to surgery and fracture. She has significant weakness of the short and long extensors as well as limited eversion and proprioceptive difficulties.

Discussion:

The talonavicular articulation is one of the key joints in mid foot pronation. Pathomechanics appear to be compromising the medial plantar nerve. This is exacerbated by her inability to fully evert the forefoot and pronate through the mid and forefoot (pronation is dorsiflexion, eversion and abduction). 

What We did:

We manipulated the sacroiliac joint and metatarsophalangeal articulations. We held off on any mobilization of the foot until we see her x-rays, hopefully available next visit.

We treated with neuromuscular acupuncture at the origin/insertion of the long extensors as well about the short extensor mass where the swelling was located. She was given the tripod standing, lift spread reach, toes up walking, and tiptoe waiting exercises to perform 2-3 times daily. She is scheduled for followup next week with x-ray review.

 

1. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/85973-overview

2. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2473011416S00299

3. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/cuboid-and-cuneiform-fractures

The Pitfalls of Motion Control Features.

Welcome to Monday, folks. Today Dr Ivo discusses why not all shoes are created equal and why you need to understand and educate your peeps about shoes!

Internal tibial torsion is when the foot is rotated internally with respect to the tibia. When the foot is straight (like when you are walking, because the brain will not let you walk too internally rotated because you will trip and fall), the knee will rotated OUTSIDE the saggital plane (knee points out). Putting a medially posted shoe on that foot rotates the foot EVEN FURTHER laterally. Since the knee is a hinge joint, this can spell disaster for the meniscus.

need to know more? email us or send us a message about our National Shoe Fit Program.

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Sometimes you need to run that valgus post clear back to the heel!

A valgus post assists in pronation. Some fols have modereate to severe internal tibial torsion and need to be able to pronate more to get the knee into the saggital plane for patello femoral conflicts. They usually run from the tail of the 5th metatarsal forward, but sometimes need to run it clear back to the heel to get enough pronation to occur.

More effective stretching, Part 2   
  Last week we looked at one ( of many ) methods to make stretching more effective, utilizing a neurological reflex called “reciprocal inhibition” If you missed that one, or need a review,    click here   .     
  Another way to get muscles to the end range of motion is to utilize a technique called “post isometric relaxation”. Notice I did not say to  lengthen the muscle ; to actually add sarcomeres to a muscle you would need to use a different technique.    Click here    to read that post.  
  Contracting a muscle before stretching is believed to take advantage of a post isomteric inhibition (sometimes called autogenic inhibition), where the muscle is temporarily inhibited from contracting for a period immediately following a isometric contraction. This has been popularized by the PNF stretching techniques, such as “contract hold” or “contract relax” . EMG studies do  jot seem to support this and actually show muscle activation remains the same (1, 2) or increased after contraction (3-6). Perhaps it is due to an increased stretch tolerance (7,8).   
  The technique was 1st described by Mitchell, Morgan and Pruzzo in 1979 (9). These gents felt it was important to utilize a maximal contraction (using 75-100% of contractile force) to get to have the effect. It was later shown by Feland and Marin (10) that a more minimal, submaximal contraction of 20-60% accomplished the same thing.  Lewit felt that a less forceful contraction offers the same results, and combined respiratory assists (inspiration facilitates contraction, expiration facilitates relaxation) with this technique (11). Interestingly, there are bilateral increases in range of motion with this type of stretching, indicating a cross over effect (12). Regardless of the mechanism, the phenomenon happens and we can take advantage of it.   
  This is how you do it:   
   Bring the muscle to its end range (maximum length) without stretching, taking up the slack. This should be painless, as this will elicit a different neurological reflex that may actually increase muscle tone.   
    resist with a minimal isometric contraction (20-60%) and hold for 10 seconds.  You can inspire to enhance the effect.  
   relax and exhale slowly. It is important to wait and feel the relaxation. Stretch through the entire period of the relaxation. You should feel a lengthening of the  muscle.  
   repeat this 3-5 times  
 
  This technique can also be used with the force of gravity offering isometric resistance. In a hamstring stretch, you could lean forward while maintaining the lumbar lordosis and allowing the weight of the upper body to provide the stretch.   
   Wasn’t that easy? Now you have another tool in your toolbox for yourself or your clients.   
    The Gait Guys. Giving you useful information and explanations in each and every post.    

  
   Magnusson SP, Simonsen EB, Aagaard P, Sorensen H, Kjaer M. A mechanism for altered flexibility in human skeletal muscle. J Physiol. Nov 15 1996;497 (Pt 1):291–298  
  Cornelius WL. Stretch evoked EMG activity by isometric coontraction and submaximal concentric contraction. Athletic Training. 1983;18:106–109  
  Condon SM, Hutton RS. Soleus muscle electromyographic activity and ankle dorsiflexion range of motion during four stretching procedures. Phys Ther. Jan 1987;67(1):24–30   
   Mitchell UH, Myrer JW, Hopkins JT, Hunter I, Feland JB, Hilton SC. Neurophysiological reflex mechanisms’ lack of contribution to the success of PNF stretches. J Sport Rehabil. 2009;18:343–357   
  Youdas JW, Haeflinger KM, Kreun MK, Holloway AM, Kramer CM, Hollman JH. The efficacy of two modified proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching techniques in subjects with reduced hamstring muscle length. Physiother Theory Pract. May 2010;26(4):240–250   
  Osternig LR, Robertson R, Troxel R, Hansen P. Muscle activation during proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching techniques. American journal of physical medicine. Oct 1987;66(5):298–307  
  Mahieu NN, Cools A, De Wilde B, Boon M, Witvrouw E. Effect of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching on the plantar flexor muscle-tendon tissue properties. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports. Aug 2009;19(4):553–560   
  Mitchell UH, Myrer JW, Hopkins JT, Hunter I, Feland JB, Hilton SC. Acute stretch perception alteration contributes to the success of the PNF “contract-relax” stretch. J Sport Rehabil. May 2007;16(2):85–92  
  Mitchell F Jr., Moran PS, Pruzzo NA: An Evaluation of Osteopathic Muscle Energy Procedures. Pruzzo, Valley Park, 1979.    
  Feland JB, Marin HN. Effect of submaximal contraction intensity in contract-relax proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching. Br J Sports Med. Aug 2004;38(4):E18.  
  Lewit K: Postisometric relaxation in combination with other methods of muscular facilitation and inhibition. Man Med, 1986, 2:101-104.  
  Markos PD. Ipsilateral and contralateral effects of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation techniques on hip motion and electromyographic activity. Phys Ther. Nov 1979;59(11):1366–1373

More effective stretching, Part 2

Last week we looked at one (of many) methods to make stretching more effective, utilizing a neurological reflex called “reciprocal inhibition” If you missed that one, or need a review, click here

Another way to get muscles to the end range of motion is to utilize a technique called “post isometric relaxation”. Notice I did not say to lengthen the muscle; to actually add sarcomeres to a muscle you would need to use a different technique. Click here to read that post.

Contracting a muscle before stretching is believed to take advantage of a post isomteric inhibition (sometimes called autogenic inhibition), where the muscle is temporarily inhibited from contracting for a period immediately following a isometric contraction. This has been popularized by the PNF stretching techniques, such as “contract hold” or “contract relax” . EMG studies do  jot seem to support this and actually show muscle activation remains the same (1, 2) or increased after contraction (3-6). Perhaps it is due to an increased stretch tolerance (7,8). 

The technique was 1st described by Mitchell, Morgan and Pruzzo in 1979 (9). These gents felt it was important to utilize a maximal contraction (using 75-100% of contractile force) to get to have the effect. It was later shown by Feland and Marin (10) that a more minimal, submaximal contraction of 20-60% accomplished the same thing.  Lewit felt that a less forceful contraction offers the same results, and combined respiratory assists (inspiration facilitates contraction, expiration facilitates relaxation) with this technique (11). Interestingly, there are bilateral increases in range of motion with this type of stretching, indicating a cross over effect (12). Regardless of the mechanism, the phenomenon happens and we can take advantage of it. 

This is how you do it: 

  • Bring the muscle to its end range (maximum length) without stretching, taking up the slack. This should be painless, as this will elicit a different neurological reflex that may actually increase muscle tone. 
  • resist with a minimal isometric contraction (20-60%) and hold for 10 seconds.  You can inspire to enhance the effect.
  • relax and exhale slowly. It is important to wait and feel the relaxation. Stretch through the entire period of the relaxation. You should feel a lengthening of the  muscle.
  • repeat this 3-5 times

This technique can also be used with the force of gravity offering isometric resistance. In a hamstring stretch, you could lean forward while maintaining the lumbar lordosis and allowing the weight of the upper body to provide the stretch. 

Wasn’t that easy? Now you have another tool in your toolbox for yourself or your clients.

The Gait Guys. Giving you useful information and explanations in each and every post.

  1. Magnusson SP, Simonsen EB, Aagaard P, Sorensen H, Kjaer M. A mechanism for altered flexibility in human skeletal muscle. J Physiol. Nov 15 1996;497 (Pt 1):291–298
  2. Cornelius WL. Stretch evoked EMG activity by isometric coontraction and submaximal concentric contraction. Athletic Training. 1983;18:106–109
  3. Condon SM, Hutton RS. Soleus muscle electromyographic activity and ankle dorsiflexion range of motion during four stretching procedures. Phys Ther. Jan 1987;67(1):24–30 
  4. Mitchell UH, Myrer JW, Hopkins JT, Hunter I, Feland JB, Hilton SC. Neurophysiological reflex mechanisms’ lack of contribution to the success of PNF stretches. J Sport Rehabil. 2009;18:343–357 
  5. Youdas JW, Haeflinger KM, Kreun MK, Holloway AM, Kramer CM, Hollman JH. The efficacy of two modified proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching techniques in subjects with reduced hamstring muscle length. Physiother Theory Pract. May 2010;26(4):240–250 
  6. Osternig LR, Robertson R, Troxel R, Hansen P. Muscle activation during proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching techniques. American journal of physical medicine. Oct 1987;66(5):298–307
  7. Mahieu NN, Cools A, De Wilde B, Boon M, Witvrouw E. Effect of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching on the plantar flexor muscle-tendon tissue properties. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports. Aug 2009;19(4):553–560 
  8. Mitchell UH, Myrer JW, Hopkins JT, Hunter I, Feland JB, Hilton SC. Acute stretch perception alteration contributes to the success of the PNF “contract-relax” stretch. J Sport Rehabil. May 2007;16(2):85–92
  9. Mitchell F Jr., Moran PS, Pruzzo NA: An Evaluation of Osteopathic Muscle Energy Procedures. Pruzzo, Valley Park, 1979.  
  10. Feland JB, Marin HN. Effect of submaximal contraction intensity in contract-relax proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching. Br J Sports Med. Aug 2004;38(4):E18.
  11. Lewit K: Postisometric relaxation in combination with other methods of muscular facilitation and inhibition. Man Med, 1986, 2:101-104.
  12. Markos PD. Ipsilateral and contralateral effects of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation techniques on hip motion and electromyographic activity. Phys Ther. Nov 1979;59(11):1366–1373

Rothbart's Foot Type: A Case discussion

We received a case question from a field doctor today.

Q: I have a pt. that demonstrates pretty classic Rothbart foot  with forefoot compensated varus - sesamoid pain of digit 1. She is a dancer as well which obviously complicates things. Would you generally post under the first MT and try to bring her more medial on her foot with a lateral heel post or just post the first MT in her day shoes?

* The Gait Guys response:

Rothbart’s foot is a difficult foot type. We would consider it an underdevelopment issue. The first metatarsal is typically short, elevated (referred to as metatarsus primus elevatus) and supinated (if you are looking down at your own right foot, it is spun clockwise).  This, as you can see all 3 components in the picture, leaves a very incompentent first toe.  Many times, if the ankle and subtalar joints are in neutral positioning the first metatarsal (MET) head doesn’t even touch the ground. The problem is that the foot does not work well that way !  So, the owner will typically spin the foot  outward into external rotation ( we will show this in a video we will attach later tonight that will help the understanding of this issue, it is important) in order to shift the tripod to help find grounding of the first MET onto the ground. The problem is that in this foot type, the grounding is not entirely complete. 

Thus, what Rothbart did, wisely, was devise a Rothbart wedge. This wedge slid in from the medial side and basically brought the ground up to the elevated and spun metatarsal. 

Background info: Under the 1st MET are 2 sesamoids, like tiny patellae, that improve mechancial advantage to the first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ). The short flexor to the big toe , the flexor hallucis brevis (FHB) has these 2 sesamoids embedded within its tendon, and when paired with a well orchestrated movement pattern between the long big toe flexor (FHL) and FBH as well as the long and short extensors (extensor hallucis longus and brevis, EHL, EHB) and some assistive means from the abductor and adductor hallucis muscles the 1st MTPJ joint can adequately dorsiflex (extend) the big toe to its necessary range of 40+ degrees so we can toe off properly from this medial aspect of the toe. 

In a Rothbart foot type scenario, this neuromechanical phenomenon is impaired, because the medial aspect of the foot and big toe are not grounded.  The wedge, when slipped underneath the 1st MET, improves this dramatically.  It brings the sloped edge of the wedge up to the elevated and spun toe and attempts to restore equal weight bearing on both sesamoids. It likely also reduces the postural slump phenomenon (often referred to as bio implosion) that we will not discuss here at this time (the postural collapse comes from first a collapse of the medial foot, then genu valgum, then hip internal spin, pelvic unlevelling and then increases in lumbar lordosis, thoracic kyphois and cervical lordosis. Orthotic companies base much of their purpose on this principle, and it does have some merrits, but the question remains…….must we support the deformity forever, or can something functionally be done to improve it.)

In  your case Doc (assuming this is yet another foot from the Joffrey Ballet Dance company that we worked for) placing a wedge under the first MET is not possible in dance slippers.  IT will help him/her in their daily shoes but as you know we are merely supporting the deformity.  What we would suggest is making every attempt, in addition to the supportive help at this time, to improve their ability to plantarflex the first metatarsal.

How do you do this ?  This works well on Forefoot varus feet that are flexible and have some skills left in their playbook.  Increasing the  skill, endurance and strength (our 3 tenants, S.E.S.) of the extensors (both short and long, EHL & EHB) will help to drop the first metatarsal into plantarflexion.  So will improving the pull up on the other end of the metatarsal base, ie. tibialis anterior, posterior etc. Many insufficient feet do not have adequate extensor strength to the toes. This creates many anterior compartment syndromes (shin splints etc).

In this case, you could try to improve extensor strength but you will have to make sure  they can get adequate function of the short hallux flexor (FHB) to help anchor the sesamoids if they can get them more purchase on the ground.  We would use our therapy approach. Treat the wedge as an orthotic (for the big toe!).  Place the wedge sufficient in size to reduce their medial foot collapse.  Initiate the protocol above, and as improvements are noted in S.E.S. then begin to reduce the degree and amount of the wedge correction.  We use a grinder in our offices, but sandpaper or a nail file will do the job, it is why we use a cork-type product.

Supporting this foot type with a high arch bearing device will artificially help reduce the bio-implosion issue to the body posture, but those supportive structures would do well with improved S.E.S. as well.  The problem with a high orthotic is that it will  maintain the metatarsus primus elevatus issue (raise 1st MET) and they will have to pronate even harder through the forefoot. This will not be good.  In some cases we will implement a custom rearfoot varus wedge ground in our office to be precise, to help reduce the rearfoot pronation that may be employed by the client to help the medial foot on the ground. But, from what we are imagining here in our heads, we think the forefoot implementation and homework is the first way to go.  Placing a thin sheet of EVA foam under the MET head might also soften the blow on that inflammed sesamoid in the mean time.  

The Gait Guys hope this helps a bit, perhaps opening some other thoughts for treatment on your end or more pointed future questions on this case.  Tune in again in case we hear back.

We will see if we can put a little video together that will support this dialogue, it makes it so much easier to digest.