What are custom-molded orthotics?
Custom-molded orthotics or inserts are devices that are placed into the shoe and act as a footbed in the shoe. The purpose is to control the foot when it walks. If you have a condition that causes your foot structure to change from what is normal, an 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. Custom-molded orthotics are like eyeglasses. 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. Orthotics will not permanently change your foot position, but when you wear them your foot will function properly.
Orthotics can be transferred from shoe to shoe. Most are worn in closed shoes, however, they can also be used in sandals with a removable footbed and there are even sandals with built-in orthotics.
Over-the-Counter Orthotics vs. Custom-molded Orthotics
Over-the-counter orthotics or inserts are a good starting point. They are a one-size-fits-all insert that helps control the foot. The downside is that they are not designed for your individual foot shape and the materials they are made out of are usually not durable. Over-the-counter orthotics typically perform their functions for three to six months before the weight of the body weakens the materials.
Back to the eyeglasses analogy. Prefabricated ones are like getting magnifiers at a drug store while getting fitted for custom molded are like getting eyeglass lenses prescribed for your vision.
Prefabricated inserts are good introductory or starter products. 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. 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 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 eyeglasses, if you have deteriorating vision, the glasses will not reverse your eyesight. 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 inserts are also either prefabricated or custom molded. In order to accommodate a child’s rapidly growing foot that can outgrow the inserts, 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.