What is an orthotic?
Orthotics are medical devices inserted in the shoes or heels that provide relief to various conditions such as plantar fasciitis, foot/ankle pain, tendinitis, knee pain, and low back pain.
People who spend many hours on their feet throughout the day, develop overuse injuries that impact the health and form of the foot. In some cases, the injuries also occur in the hip or the lower back. Moreover, unsupportive shoes can also cause pain and discomfort, especially in the foot and the lower back.
The list of benefits of wearing orthotics is quite long. They provide support, encourage correct foot positioning, redistribute weight in the foot, prevent symptoms from worsening, and improve the foot’s overall function. The orthotic design and type of orthotic depend on the severity of the condition. Orthopedic doctors typically recommend the most suitable orthotics depending on the level and location of the pain, foot deformity, and the overall health condition of the foot.
Prior to recommending the orthotic, a podiatrist conducts a physical exam of the feet to check for deformities and other unusual conditions. Moreover, a careful doctor also considers other factors such as the level of physical activities, type of activities, or underlying medical issues.
Types of orthotics
There are three types of orthotics, referenced by their level of flexibility:
Each type serves the purpose of either changing the function of the foot, protecting the foot, or combining the two, respectively. They assist the feet and lower legs to perform optimally, based on varying needs amongst patients.
Podiatrists recommend creating the orthotics either full length for the workout or walking shoes or more low profile and shorter, so they comfortably fit in the flats and casual shoes. At Kings Point Foot & Ankle, we can even create a custom pair for our patients who wear high heels and need foot comfort and support.
Custom or over-the-counter orthotics?
Due to a variety of factors involved, custom orthotics are superior to any mass-produced, generic versions produced to fit the average foot. Although foot structure is typically the same in most feet, there are nuances, such as arches and curves, that warrant a unique approach to treatment recommendations. If the feet vary from the average foot an over-the-counter orthotic was designed for, it can force the foot to conform to an unnatural and uncomfortable positioning that may only further complicate the condition.
The material used in an orthotic is also extremely important and should vary based on the use-case. The material should be able to resist the forces directly influencing symptoms. Different levels of rigidity characterize different materials that each serve a purpose in custom orthotics. While a higher arch may require a softer (and thinner) orthotic, a lower arch may comparatively require a more rigid (and thicker) material.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Benjamin Tehrani today, voted LA Magazine’s Top 2020 Doctor. If you are experiencing foot pain or any complication, the best step you can take is to talk to a professional who will make a well-informed decision about your particular symptoms.