What Are Orthotics?
Custom-made orthotics are medical shoe inserts that support and gently reposition the heel, arch, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones in the feet. Orthotics enable the structures in the foot to work together as nature intended, making each step pain-free.
Unlike over-the-counter shoe inserts, custom-made orthotics are created from non-weight bearing molds of your feet. These devices are designed to meet your specific needs. These devices are typically made with comfortable materials that are very durable and they can be designed to fit in any type of shoe.
Custom-made orthotics have been shown to help alleviate and relieve pain caused by the following common foot conditions:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Arch pain
- Diabetes-related pain
- Hammer toe
- Corns & calluses
In addition to relieving pain and reducing inflammation, custom orthotics help control alignment and function of the foot. This helps treat and prevent injuries caused by sharp or excessive movement during physical activity. Custom orthotics also help to make activities like running and walking more efficient by improving the structure of the foot.
How Do Custom Orthotics Work?
The root cause of most foot problems can be attributed to poor foot structure. Even the smallest misalignment in the foot can cause significant pain or discomfort. Misalignment in the foot can cause foot conditions like bunions, corns, hammer toes, etc. If you suffer from these conditions, custom-made orthotics are recommended to pad and protect the foot.
Orthotics function to not only support the arch, but also realign the structures of the foot. By doing so, custom orthotics improve the structure of the foot and help prevent bone misalignment, as well as tendon and ligament fatigue. As your foot strikes the ground, orthotics within the shoe gently direct the structure into the correct position so as to reduce pain and stop inflammation.
How Are Orthotics Made?
Following a physical exam and diagnosis of the condition, your podiatrist may recommend orthotics as part of the treatment plan. There are several methods that can be used to cast a mold or create an image of your foot—from computer guided and laser imaging to just a normal cast. Once the image or cast has been taken, they are usually sent to a medical lab to be created.
People with normal, fully-developed foot arches have a notable upward curve in the middle of the foot. When arches develop fully, the tendons and ligaments in the foot and lower leg help provide support and stabilize it. Flatfeet, also called fallen arches, occurs as the result of an undeveloped or collapsed arch. Most cases of flatfeet are hereditary and are present from birth. In other cases, flatfeet can develop after an injury or overuse.
Flatfeet are a common and usually painless condition in children, though it can cause some arch pain in adolescents and adults. For adults, pain may occur during or after physical activity and there may be some dull pain after long periods of rest. The cause of fallen arch is simple: the tendons and ligaments that support the arch weaken and collapse due to too much stress or overuse.