Custom orthotics are specially designed inserts made for an individual’s specific anatomical and condition requirements. They are used to accommodate or correct gait or structural abnormalities and can help to correct an irregular walking pattern that may be causing symptoms of foot, ankle, leg, or back pain.
Podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons often prescribe custom orthotics as a conservative treatment for many foot problems as well as to prevent future problems from occurring. Orthotics may also be used as a method of control after certain types of foot surgery.
Custom orthotics offer more than just a padded insole – they are individually made for your feet and your exact requirements. Each orthotic is custom-made by taking an impression of the foot, known as a cast, which replicates the anatomical makeup of your foot as well as any misalignments. A computerized analysis of your foot is then utilized to develop a device that corrects the misalignments and deals with any specific foot or gait issues. The finished orthotic is then worn inside normal footwear to assist in keeping the foot properly aligned and, in some cases, to provide padding to cushion the foot against the weight of the body.
Types of Orthotics
Foot orthotics generally fall into three categories, which include orthotics to primarily change foot function, ones that protect against certain conditions, and ones that are a combination of both functional control and protection. Orthotics come in different forms and are constructed of various materials to accommodate specific requirements.
Rigid Orthotics are designed to control function. They are usually made of a firm material such as plastic or carbon fiber and help to control motion in the two major foot joints directly below the ankle joint. This can help to treat aches and pains in the legs and lower back caused by abnormal foot function or minor differences in leg length.
Soft Orthotics are designed, primarily, to help absorb shock, increase balance, and reduce pressure on sensitive or injured areas. They are usually made of soft, compressible materials that easily adjust to changes in weight-bearing forces. Soft orthotics are primarily recommended for arthritic or deformed feet as well as for those at risk of diabetic foot conditions.
Semirigid Orthotics allow for dynamic balance of the foot while walking but more specifically while participating in sports. They are constructed of layers of soft material and reinforced with rigid materials. Semirigid orthotics are designed to aid athletes by helping to guide the feet through the proper functions and allowing the muscles and tendons to perform more effectively.
Orthotics can also be made specifically for children in order to help treat developmental foot deformities. Children with foot deformities may be prescribed orthotics soon after they begin to walk in order to stabilize the foot. Children’s orthotics need to be replaced regularly as the foot develops and changes in size and shape.
How Can Orthotics Help?
Custom orthotics may be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan to address particular symptoms, such as foot and leg pain. Orthotic treatment can help to:
- Correct foot deformities
- Help the foot and/or ankle to function better
- Provide foot and/or ankle support
- Reduce the risk of injuries
- Treat over pronation or flat feet
- Improve foot position
- Prevent/alleviate conditions, including plantar fasciitis and ankle instability
- Reduce the risk of diabetes related foot conditions (such as foot ulcers)
Do I Need Orthotics?
Custom orthotics can help to prevent and improve many foot problems that can lead to discomfort, and many people can benefit from wearing them. There are several signs and symptoms that can indicate misalignment of the feet and may make you a good candidate for orthotics. These include:
- One side of the sole of your shoe wears out quicker than the other
- Regularly spraining your ankle
- Chronic knee, heel, or lower back pain
- Shin pain
- Your toes are not straight
- Feet point inward or outward when you walk
- Heel pain when first getting up in the morning
Custom Foot Orthotics Across Southern Texas
If you would like to find out how custom orthotics can help you, call the foot and ankle professionals at The Podiatry Group of South Texas. Our foot doctors utilize a computerized analysis of your foot to develop orthotics that effectively deal with your specific requirements. Call us today at the location nearest you to schedule your appointment or you can request one online.