What do orthotics do?

winter shoes with custom orthotics

Do Orthotics really work?

Custom orthotics are made from a thin piece of foam that is inserted into shoes. Sometimes made of gel other materials, this placement changes the angles how the feet contact the walking surface. These are used by chiropractors and podiatrist to alter a person’s walking pattern. There are two orthotic types: 

  • Functional Orthotics: Controls joint movement with levers, aka posts or wedges, at the underside of orthosis shell to deviate reactive forces from the ground through altered and neutral joint position. These custom orthotics are prescribed for a person experiencing lower back pain that is caused by different leg length.  
  • Accommodative orthotics: These custom orthotics for plantar fasciitis are designed to correct foot issues by reducing peak pressure areas and dynamic friction on the foot’s bottom surface by offloading pressure points that will distribute weight evenly across a patients plantar. 

Orthotics are available over-the-counter in a variety of sizes and types. They are intended to help with various types of foot, heel, or other minor pains. One example would be arch supports to help a person with flat fee or overarched feet.  

Then there are custom orthotics, or prescription ordered. When the OTC orthotics aren’t working, turn to a doctor for help and they will likely prescribe custom orthotics after examining and assessing a patient’s complaint. 

Like any prescribed medication or treatment, the prescribing doctor’s directions must be followed in order for the custom orthotics to work. Wearing OTC or custom orthotics can provide help in these reasons: 

  • Preventing calluses, corns, or foot ulcers
  • Added foot support for a patient with balance issues 

How do I know if I need orthotics?

Not everyone has perfect feet, meaning OTC or custom orthotics can help a lot of people. If you have any of the following, you should ask yourself, “What orthotics do I need?”. If you aren’t able to determine this from the OTC selections at your local drug store, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor. They may in turn refer you to a podiatrist if the feel the situation warrants the attention of a specialist. The five common signs that OTC or custom orthotics are needed: 

  1. You’re on your feet 5 hours or more each day – Standing for long periods of time can cause plantar fasciitis. This is an overuse to the plantar fascia that can injure the ligament extending from the  heel to the toes on the sole of the foot. Custom orthotics will provide relief from that stress. 
  2. Your Shoes Wear Out – Check your shoe’s tread and if the sole is worn down unevenly, you may need  custom orthotics for overpronation to correct your feet from rolling inward or turning outward.  
  3. You Have Arch Issues –  When a patient has high or low arches, the everyday footwear doesn’t provide the needed support. OTC or custom orthotics will provide that support. 
  4. Severe Pain in the Foot or Heel – Most of us will blame any foot or heel pain on our shoes, when in fact some may be suffering from  plantar fasciitis.
  5. Lower Limb Injury – Any recent ankle, hip, lip, or knee injury can affect foot pressure and affect how you walk. Custom orthotics can help correct your walk.

Will I have to wear orthotics forever?

Not necessarily, it depends on the patient and the problem that is being corrected. It also will depend on the patient following the doctor’s instructions for wearing the OTC or custom orthotics. You will have to ‘wean’ off wearing them, and your doctor will provide you the routine and schedule for easing your time without them. The average time of weaning off custom orthotics is between two week and four weeks. Again, following the doctor’s instructions will make the difference. 

Are custom orthotics worth it?

What works for your co-worker may not work for you and vice versa. This is what has created a number of different solutions beyond OTC orthotics and created a custom orthotics market. Everyone has different body weight and shape, stand, and walk differently, and that tells us that pain and the cure for the pain aren’t going to be generic. If OTC orthotics isn’t working for you like it did your co-worker, see your primary care doctor. After examination, they may refer you to a podiatrist for more detailed help. 

person walking with the help of orthotics

How long should orthotics last?

This can vary depending upon how much the person wearing them is on their feet, how much they walk and how they walk or stand.  The average lifespan of typical custom orthotics is between two years to three years. 

When orthotics hurt, you may think they aren’t worth the expense. However, it could be any of the following causing the discomfort and pain: 

  • You have ill-fitted orthotics
  • Your orthotics need replacing 
  • You are wearing improper footwear for your orthotics
  • You did not follow the doctor’s instructions on breaking in your orthotics

Before you assume that orthotics are not for you, check those four things and if any apply, make the correction, and give your orthotics another chance.  Your foot comfort could be just a step or two away! Call (717) 263-8919 for your custom treatment in Chambersburg, PA.