When pain in your feet, heels, or ankles makes completing daily tasks or participating in your favorite activities difficult, the over-the-counter shoe inserts sold in local stores can look like a promising solution to your podiatric problems.
However, while store-bought inserts may offer temporary relief, their benefits pale in comparison to those offered by their custom, podiatrist-prescribed counterparts.
Here's what you should know about prescription custom orthotics, including how Dr. Sarah Stewart of Grandville Foot and Ankle can use them to relieve pain and treat a wide range of common conditions.
Custom Prescription Orthotics vs. Over-the-Counter Inserts
Store-bought shoe inserts are mass-produced with the “average” foot in mind. This one-size-fits-most approach allows manufacturers and retailers to market their products to the broadest possible demographic. While this may be great for companies, it isn't exactly great for feet. Even over-the-counter inserts that claim to be specially designed to address various foot concerns are still approximate fits at best—and aren't intended to correct any of the underlying conditions that may actually be causing your discomfort.
Whereas prefabricated inserts are made to fit as many people as possible, prescription orthotics are made to accommodate your unique foot structure. They are personalized medical devices designed specifically for your feet. Prescribed by a podiatrist after a thorough examination and computer imaging of your feet, ankles, and lower legs, custom orthotics not only provide support and cushioning exactly where you need it, but they can actually work to correct or manage common podiatric problems.
Making Sense of Custom Orthotics
Custom orthotics can be made in all different shapes and sizes, using a wide array of materials. The most common kinds of custom orthotics devices include arch supports, heel liners, foot cushions, and shoe insoles. There are two main categories of prescription custom orthotics: functional orthotics and accommodative orthotics.
Functional custom orthotics are designed to correct abnormal gaits or foot function and work by holding your foot in the correct position to normalize your movements. Typically made of rigid or semi-rigid materials such as plastic or graphite, functional orthotics are adept at treating pain caused by biomechanical abnormalities like flat feet, high arches, or pronation—an issue where your foot rolls inward as it hits the ground.
Accommodative orthotics, on the other hand, are made of softer materials and designed to provide extra cushioning and gentle support. Since they're softer and more flexible than functional orthotics, custom accommodative orthotic devices are ideal for situations where patients require additional cushioning and support in very specific spots. They are particularly useful in treating uncomfortable conditions such as diabetic foot ulcers or painful calluses that form on the bottom of the foot.
Conditions Orthotics Can Treat
When prescribed by a board-certified podiatrist like Dr. Stewart, custom orthotics can be used to successfully treat or manage a variety of conditions, as well as improve the functionality of your feet and ankles. Examples of podiatric issues that can benefit from custom orthotics treatment include:
- Aching feet
- Ankle pain
- Arch pain
- Chronic foot pain
- Diabetic foot pain
- Flat feet
- Foot injuries
- Heel pain
- High arches
- Knee pain
- Lower back pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Shin splints
Don't see your condition here? The above list is far from exhaustive. Talk to our podiatrist to find out if custom orthotics are right for you.
Regular Podiatric Care Can Help Keep Feet Happy and Healthy
Grandville Foot and Ankle is committed to providing the highest standard of podiatry care for each and every member of the family. Making regular podiatry care a part of your health management routine can help keep your feet happy and healthy—and stop potential problems in their tracks.