Frequently asked questions about custom orthotics and their uses.
What are orthotics? Orthotics refers to custom-made shoe inserts prescribed by a licensed doctor after an examination and diagnosis. Orthotics are designed to accommodate or correct an abnormal or irregular walking pattern. (Mechanism of Gait or Gait Mechanics.)
How do orthotic devices work? Orthotics make standing, walking, and running more comfortable and efficient by altering the angles at which the foot strikes the ground. Orthotics placed inside your shoes can absorb shock, improve balance, and take pressure off sore spots.
Aren't orthotics just for runners or other athletes? Runners and athletes have special needs, but orthotics can help non-athletes, as well. An imbalance in your feet, even a small one can change your posture and affect your entire body. Orthotics might help you if: One side of the sole of your shoe wears out faster than the other. You frequently sprain your ankle. You have chronic heel, knee, or lower back pain. Your toes are not straight. Your feet point inward or excessively outward when you walk.
What about shoe inserts and arch supports sold at retail outlets? Arch supports and shoe inserts made for standard shoe sizes are generally affordable and may be helpful, but are not suitable for everyone. Some brands are better than others but the truth is its a one size fits all approach and without someone to analyze your feet and their specific needs, it may actually worsen the condition you are attempting to help. Improper orthotics can alter healthy biomechanics, gait, and posture.
My legs hurt, not my feet. could orthotics help? Strains, aches, and pains in the legs, thighs, and lower back may be due to abnormal foot mechanics or slight differences in the length of the legs. Orthotics may be helpful.
Can orthotics prescribed by a Chiropractor really make a difference? Properly prescribed orthotics have relieved debilitating pain for thousands of people. Many people who could not take a step without pain are walking normally and living more active lives because of orthotics. Anyone can provide mass-produced inserts, but only doctors are trained and licensed to diagnosis medical conditions and prescribe orthotics.
Can orthotics take the place of foot surgery? Many conservative practitioners from differing disciplines often recommend orthotics and other conservative care for many foot and ankle problems before considering surgery. You can always have surgery after trying more conservative methods but if you've already had surgery the conservative methods may no longer be helpful.
What about people with diabetes? For people with diabetes, arthritis, or other conditions, orthotics that do not fit properly can be dangerous. People with diabetes especially need proper diagnoses and prescriptions from a licensed primary care physician.
Who makes orthotics? Some Chiropractors, Podiatrists, Orthotists and Doctors of Ostopathy will make their own orthotics for patients but this takes a focus in their education that many practitioners just do not have. As a result, many send their prescriptions out to outside laboratories. Properly prescribed orthotics are not inexpensive, but are very effective and long-lasting.