What are orthotics?
Orthotics, also known as shoe inserts and/or arch supports, are a structured and supportive device that help align the foot in a neutral manner to prevent increased stress and strain on joints, tendons, and ligaments due to biomechanical abnormalities. These inserts fit inside your shoe.
What do they do?
Orthotics do not change the structure of your foot. We like to compare them to eyeglasses. When you wear them, you are able to function better without permanently altering your foot structure (or altering your native eyesight). As soon as the orthotics (glasses) are removed, your foot (eyesight) returns to baseline.
1) If I need orthotics I will have to wear “orthopedic” shoes for the rest of my life: FALSE
There are the conventional orthotics that fit (unnoticed) in athletic shoes and dress orthotics that fit into more slim shoes. However, this does not mean that you cannot wear stilettos, flip flops, or go barefoot in the future. After the acute pain has improved, wearing your orthotics as much as possible will help prevent return of pain from strain and stress caused by wearing the stilettos or flip flops when desired.
2) The muscles and ligaments in my feet will weaken over time with orthotics: FALSE
With eyeglasses, your eyes do not have to strain to see. With orthotics your tendons, ligaments, and joints do not have to strain to perform an activity. Which means they can function the way they were meant to preventing tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and possibly long term arthritic changes.
What Kind of Orthotics are available?
There are two main types of orthotics: over the counter and custom.
1) Over the counter orthotics are made in accordance to shoe size for the general population’s foot. However, within this category there are many many options from which to choose. Orthotics range from soft and made of gel to hard and made of plastic or carbon fiber. In general, it is preferable to error on the side of harder more supportive orthotic. The reasoning behind this suggestion is that the foot is seeking control of movements that are causing strain on bones and soft tissues and firm orthotics help provide this control. Many people can benefit from over the counter orthotics and use it as a guide to determine if custom orthotics would also be beneficial. Over the counter orthotics are not covered by insurance.
2) Custom orthotics are made to fit a specific foot exactly. The foot is measured using either plaster casts, foam boxes, or electronic scanners based on the doctors preferences. The orthotics are hand made to the exact prescription to accommodate for deformities and provide modifications to reduce pain. A custom orthotic can be made to fit athletic and dress shoes and will often last 3-4 years. Most insurance companies have some coverage for custom orthotics.
Does everyone need orthotics?
Absolutely not. Our team of doctors will evaluate your foot and ankle needs to determine what is the best treatment to get you back on your feet as soon as possible. If you have questions about if orthotics would be beneficial for you, please call to schedule an appointment at PACI at 513-474-4450.