Custom Foot Orthotics
Select Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics (CAO) offices perform custom orthotic fitting, and measurements. The orthotics are fabricated to match each individual patient’s needs and can be used to address a wide variety of foot conditions. This is important because our feet are the foundation for our entire body during movement and loading.
What are custom foot orthotics?
Custom orthotics are shoe inserts made to exactly fit the contour of your foot. They are made by taking an exact mold of your foot, which is then sent to a lab for creation of precise fitting custom orthotics. Sometimes called arch supports (though they’re much more than that), orthotics allow patients to walk and run more efficiently and comfortably. There are many options to perform casting for orthotics. The most common is a plaster molding of some kind, but an alternative is 3D mapping using imaging tools. Either method requires a skilled individual to position the feet and identify the faults that need addressing.
What conditions might benefit from custom foot orthotics?
If you have chronic or recurring foot/ankle pain, knee or hip issues and/or low back pain, you may benefit from custom orthotics to improve your alignment. However, alignment is not always the issue. Your Physical Therapist will perform a thorough evaluation and may decide custom orthotics are not necessary. The Physical Therapist can also make recommendations for over-the-counter inserts, exercises to improve strength/flexibility and offer tips for proper shoe wear.
When most people think about custom orthotics, they often think about flat feet, bunions and plantar fasciitis. However, custom orthotics can be beneficial for conditions affecting the entire body as a connected chain. Because your feet are your only point of contact with the ground as you move through life, if alignment is off at this level, higher body segments can be impacted. Orthotics have been shown to be beneficial, not only for foot and ankle pain, but for knee and hip conditions, low back pain and scoliosis. Orthotics are also used for medical conditions such as arthritis and diabetes, and to correct poor biomechanics and gait alignment.
How do I get custom foot orthotics?
You will need to schedule an orthotics evaluation with a therapist who specializes in orthotic fabrication. The physical therapist will perform a gait assessment, examine foot alignment in weight bearing and non-weight bearing positions and screen for a possible leg length discrepancy. After determining what type of orthotic would be best, the physical therapist will take measurements and make a plaster mold of the foot. This mold is sent to a lab with the therapist’s recommendations for correction. After the orthotics are shipped back to the clinic (typically within 2-4 weeks), a physical therapist will make sure they fit properly and are comfortable. A wearing schedule will be reviewed and instructions for care and follow up are issued.
How will my foot orthotics feel?
It is normal to have some soreness or discomfort as you start wearing your orthotics. Your foot is in a different, but better aligned position and your muscles and joints have to adjust to the new position. With a proper fit, custom orthotics will help to alleviate foot pain and help to correct poorly aligned feet and ankles. Although relief of your pain will not occur overnight, consistently wearing orthotics for a period of time will help realign your feet and allow healing to occur as well as help prevent future pain or injury.
Am I able to order another pair of foot orthotics?
Yes! Since the orthotic labs now have scanners, they have the ability to save the measurements from the cast molds. This makes re-orders easy.
What are the alternatives to custom foot orthotics?
There are many kinds of over the counter or prefabricated orthotics on the market today, which can be purchased online, at the pharmacy, or different sports stores. These vary greatly in quality and function. There are many different foot types, and some insoles are geared toward being soft rather than being supportive. Soft insoles, while they feel good on the skin, do not properly support the arch and can sometimes cause more harm than good. Your Physical Therapist can educate you on alternative options for over-the-counter orthotics and different shoe wear options if appropriate.
To learn more about how CAO can help you, please call or make an appointment with an orthotics-specializing PT.