Orthotics are medical devices that patients wear inside their shoes. A podiatrist often prescribes foot orthotics or foot orthoses to patients who have problems with how they stand, walk and run.
Orthotic devices are also used to treat patients with foot pain caused by disorders such as arthritis, bursitis, plantar fasciitis and diabetes.
Most people have foot and leg issues and you could be one of them. One of the best remedies is the use of orthotics and shoe inserts.
Read on to know more about how foot and leg problems are treated with orthotic therapy.
What orthotics and shoe inserts are and how they are used to relieve pain of the foot, leg and back.
In simplest terms, orthotics are medical devices designed to treat foot, leg and back problems. The best way to make prescription orthotics is from a laser scan of the feet and either computer-aided design and milling or 3 D printing.
Generally, the main purpose of orthotic devices is to promote proper alignment of your foot and ankle when you’re standing, walking, or running. You will use them as shoe inserts and they are often referred to as orthotics inserts and orthotics insoles.
Differences between shoe inserts and prescription custom orthotics
Shoe inserts are over-the-counter medical devices that provide support and cushion for your foot. They are made from different kinds of materials such as foam, gel or plastic.
Shoe inserts are not sold as one-size-fits-all products so you can easily get a pair that would perfectly fit your shoes.
However, they are not prescription or custom-made so the design won’t match with your feet correctly. Shoe inserts may provide cushion and support but they don’t necessarily solve an individual’s foot problem.
Common Types of Shoe Inserts
- Foot cushions are a solution to those situations where you feel your shoes are rubbing against your toes or heel. You can use them as barriers between you and your shoe. Foot cushions come in various shapes and sizes.
- Heel liners, also known as heel cups or heel pads, are extra cushions for your heels. This type of shoe insert is especially helpful if you are experiencing heel pain due to the thinning of your heels’ natural fat pads; this condition often occurs in older people.
- Insoles are for extra cushion and you can easily slip them into your shoes. They are usually made of foam, gel or plastic.
- Arch supports often have that ”bumped up” appearance that keeps your foot in its natural arch position. They are designed to treat patients who have either high arches (pes cavus) or low arches (flat feet).
Custom orthotics are much different from shoe inserts since the former is prescription-based, high-quality medical devices. They are custom-made using a laser scan of your actual foot so they are designed to fit your feet perfectly.
As a result, Custom orthotics have a higher chance of correcting biomechanical foot problems like the misalignment of the foot and ankle.
Misalignment of the foot and ankle comes in many forms and they are:
- Supination and
- Over supination
The 2 Types of Orthotic Devices:
- Accommodative orthotics are made from soft materials to provide extra cushioning and support. They are designed to treat uncomfortable medical conditions such as painful calluses on the foot’s bottom and diabetic foot ulcers.
- Functional orthotics are made from semi-rigid materials such as plastics and graphite. They are used for the treatment of foot pain caused by an abnormal motion of the foot that can result in injuries such as tendonitis and shin splints.
Uses of Orthotics
Here are some of the common medical conditions that your podiatrist may require the use of orthotics:
- Plantar fasciitis is one of the many known causes of heel pain. Podiatrists will often recommend orthotic devices for foot and heel support.
- Injuries. Patients who are experiencing trauma to their ankles and feet sometimes need additional support.
- High arches. Arches that are too high can cause stress to muscles and often lead to conditions such as plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, knee pain and shin splints.
- Heel spurs are conditions where too much growth of bones on the bottom of the foot or at the back of the heel. Patients with heel spurs may need support from prescription foot orthoses.
- Hammertoes are often the side effect of bunions on the big toes, which also causes pain on the second toe and deformations on the ball of the foot. Hammertoes require the use of orthotic devices for foot support and to prevent further worsening of the condition.
- Flat feet can cause foot, ankle, heel and back pain. Patients with flat feet need support from orthotic devices to promote the correct positioning of the foot.
- Diabetes. Patients with diabetes sometimes experience diabetic neuropathy. It is a condition where the patients lose the sensation in their foot. As a result, the foot experiences excessive stress and pressure, which often leads to foot ulcers.
- Bursitis is a pain and discomfort caused by the inflammation of fluid-filled sacs on the heels and toes. This discomfort can be treated using orthotic devices that have heel and arch support.
- Bunions are painful foot deformities or bumps at the base of the great toes. The use of wide toe box orthotics can help lessen the pressure on the great toe.
- Back pain is often due to poor positioning of your feet like arches that roll inward. Similarly, the lack of cushioning on the foot may also cause back pain.
- Arthritis. Poor foot positioning, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis cause discomfort in your feet that only orthotics can help by promoting proper alignment of the feet and ankle.
What is a podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a registered healthcare professional trained to diagnose and treat conditions of the foot and ankle. A very small number of podiatrists have done 6 years of additional training to become a podiatric surgeon and registered specialists. Podiatric surgeons have the expertise to correct foot and ankle problems in addition to providing medical management.
The services of a podiatrist will often include a complete assessment of the biomechanical problems of the lower limb and analysis of gait.
When to call a podiatrist?
Foot and ankle care is essential because your feet are ‘shock absorbers’ as you move or get around. Your feet have complex bone structures that are instrumental for your well-being and overall health, thus they need expert care.
Orthotic therapy is beneficial for athletes not only for treating sports injuries but to greatly enhance their performance.
Let us take good care of your foot and ankle!
Whether you have foot issues or want to enhance your overall performance in sports, we at Adelaide Foot and Ankle can help you in getting your feet back to being active again. Contact us now to make an appointment.