Orthotics are shoe inserts custom made for your feet.
When your feet are not moving in correct alignment or you’re overusing them, foot pain may develop. Your podiatrist may treat your discomfort by prescribing orthotics.
Orthotics are often used as a non-surgical treatment for many foot problems. Orthotics can enhance comfort and prevent additional problems from developing. Unlike shoe inserts bought in a store, prescription orthotics are built to meet the unique needs of your foot. Non-custom made or store bought orthotics can sometimes be helpful, although will never work as well as prescription orthotics. Your podiatrist may recommend a non- custom orthotic as an initial treatment, depending on the problem.
Biomechanics is a branch of science that uses the principles of physics to study the the motion and forces on the body. Podiatrists receive specialized in depth study of biomechanics during their four years of medical training. They study how movement and forces of the foot influence the lower extremity. This training makes your podiatrist the most qualified medical specialist to diagnose and treat your problem with orthotics.
By controlling the alignment of your foot, the stress of weightbearing is better distributed throughout your foot. This will reduce strain on muscles, tendons and joints. Orthotics can help reduce or eliminate your foot pain. With better alignment orthotics may also relieve back, hip and knee pain.
There are many types, sizes and styles of orthotics, and a wide range of materials that are used in combination to provide the best device. When prescribing your orthotics your podiatrist will make the best match between your needs and the type of materials used to fabricate the device.
After a detailed history of your problem and a biomechanical evaluation, your podiatrist will obtain a three dimensional laser image of your foot. This image is very precise and is sent to the orthotic lab with a detailed prescription from your podiatrist. At the lab, trained technicians will craft your orthotics from this exact image. You can expect to receive your orthotics within two weeks.
When your orthotics arrive from the lab you will be contacted to come to the office for a fitting. You will be asked to bring in the shoes that you will be primarily wearing the orthotic in. Those should include your work or athletic shoes. Your podiatrist will make sure they fit into your shoes correctly and are controlling your movement appropriately.
Initially your orthotics can feel strange but over a two week period, following the written instructions, you should be fully adjusted to wearing them.
As with eyeglass prescriptions, orthotic prescriptions may change over time. You will want to come in to see your podiatrist if you develop any changes in how your feet feel. Over time, the soft covers or padding material may need to be replaced. Small modifications to your existing orthotic can be made as needed.