Orthotic Shoes vs Custom Orthotics: Which One is Right for You?
A lot of foot and knee problems can bring severe pain and discomfort, making this very debilitating and disabling. Footwear manufacturers have thus come up with orthotic shoes, but can these off-the-shelf products be enough? How do they compare with custom orthotics?
Let us look at the pros and cons of both.
Orthotic shoes or inserts are easily available in pharmacies, groceries and sports shops. They are often very cheap and available in different sizes and with options for men and women. So with different sizes options available, not to mention the lower cost, is it still worth seeing a podiatrist for custom orthotics?
The problem with off-the-shelf orthotics is that they are available according to shoe size. This assumes that people all have the same type of foot problem.
Thus the design of these readily available orthotic shoes and inserts are as a general solution for different foot conditions. This is most unlikely to provide the specific corrections that a patient needs. Even if some generic orthotic shoes can be trimmed and modified somehow, these modifications cannot really be specific enough for one’s particular foot condition.
It helps to understand that there are different problems to address. Some examples include preventing, accommodating, correcting foot deformities, aligning and supporting the ankle or foot, or improving their overall function.
For example, when a patient needs correction of biomechanical imbalances, they may need specific additional support for the inside or outside arch of the foot, which orthotic shoes will be unlikely to provide.
A US-based, board-certified foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Richard Hayes, concurs and warns that these generic orthotic shoes or inserts bought over the counter may actually do more harm than good.
Wearing an over-the-counter type of insert may worsen the foot condition. Why so? Because it also addresses a condition unrelated to the original problem. This can cause a change in the mechanics of a patient’s gait, thus worsening the foot problem.
With custom orthotics, the podiatrist creates a 3-D image of the patient’s foot to produce an orthotic engineered for an accurate, personalised fit. More importantly, it addresses the specific problems causing the knee, ankle or foot problem, whether it be prevention, accommodating foot deformities, alignment, or improving overall function and foot health.
Because it is custom-made, understandably, it is not as readily available as generic orthotic inserts. It is worthy to point out that because the orthotic is made with the consultation of a health professional, the patient achieves the best possible results.
It may cost more, but the custom orthotics will address the root of the foot problem. This is very important because our feet carry all of our body’s weight and it is estimated that we take 10,000 steps a day.
When you are faced with some foot and knee problems, it is best to consult a podiatrist. Trying to solve the issue with over-the-counter orthotics may not solve your specific foot condition, if not worsen it. Contact us today.