Orthotics are devices that are placed into the shoe and acts as a foot bed in the shoe. The purpose of an orthotic is to control the foot when it walks. If we have a condition that causes a foot structure to change from what is normal and orthotic can counteract and balance the condition. During the three parts of gait: heel strike, foot flat and toe off, an orthotic can help control the foot so that it can walk in a controlled, stable, smooth transition. I will use the eyeglass analogy in this discussion. Orthotics are like eye glasses. You have a problem with your vision and you see an eye doctor. They test your vision and find a lens that can offset the visual problem. A lens is prescribed for you and you can see more clearly. Orth.otics will not permanently change your foot position, but when you wear them your foot will function properly.
They can be transferred from shoe to shoe. Most are worn in closed shoes, however there are orthotics that can be used in a sandal with a removable foot bed and there are even sandals with build in orthotics.
There are also various kinds of orthotics:
THE SKINNY ON THE OVER THE COUNTER INSERT VERSUS A CUSTOM MOLDED DEVICE:
Over the counter or OTC inserts are a good starting point. They are a one size fits most insert that helps to control the foot. The downside is that the materials are not strong and it typically will perform its function for three to six months before the weight of the body weakens the material. Back to the eye glasses analogy. Prefabricated orthotics are like getting magnifiers at a drug store while getting fitted for custom molded are like getting eyeglass lenses prescribed for your vision.
They are good introductory or starter product. At a good price point, you can tell if an orthotic will help you. Our office will fit and measure you, dispense the orthotic and educate you on the break in period. If you love the prefabricated orthotic then you will love the custom device that you can get when the OTC insert wears down.
Custom Molded orthotics are made specifically for you. At our facility we use one of the oldest but best methods for casting. This is more costly to us and more time consuming however it provides a superior quality product than a computer generated prescription or a foam box. A plaster mold is made of the foot. The foot is placed in the best position for walking and the device is made with built in modifications for various conditions. For example, if you have a neuroma we can build in a neuroma pad to relieve pressure off of the aggravated nerve. (link to neuroma). A custom device should last years with only the need to add a new top cover or outer post.
Unique to our practice is orthotics for children. Most facilities do not provide orthotics for children. Most pediatric foot and ankle conditions such as metatarsus adductus, bunions, calcaneal apophysitis Kidner foot, Flat foot, etc. will be controlled with an orthotic. The insert will help slow the progression of the condition but not reverse it. Again, in comparison to eye glasses., if you have deteriorating vision, the glasses will not reverse your eyesite. When you wear the glasses they will help you to see and when you wear the orthotics they will help place the foot in the best position for walking but it will not correct something that requires surgery for a bone or structural condition.
Pediatric orthotics are also either prefabricated or custom molded. In order to accommodate a child’s rapidly growing foot that can outgrow the orthotic, our office provides a unique warranty program so that your child can get a new pair of orthotics when they outgrow their custom molds every two years until they are 18.
Consider a consultation with Dr. Schoenhaus or Dr. Gold that includes foot type analysis, digital gait analysis and feedback, foot sizing and typing, molding and imprint services and personal foot shopping.