Custom orthotics may be prescribed by your podiatrist for several conditions, such as, heel pain, flat feet, high arches, leg length differences, bunions, and neuromas. They are used to correct an abnormal gait or walking pattern, make shoes more comfortable, and allow people to stand, walk, play sports, and run more efficiently. Orthotics are also prescribed for diabetic patients with foot deformities to prevent ulcerations (wounds) and infection.
Custom orthotics are also known as shoe inserts or arch supports. Plaster molds are made to the patient’s feet in the office, where they are then sent out for fabrication. The type of orthotic, materials used, and accommodations are made for your specific condition and activity level. The materials used are of superior quality and last an average of three to four years. The materials range from soft and flexible to hard and rigid.
Soft orthotics are used to absorb shock, improve balance, and take pressure off painful areas of the foot. Soft orthotics extend the entire length of the foot, from the heel to the toes. Soft orthotics are prescribed for diabetic patients, arthritic conditions, fragile skin, calluses, and painful foot deformities.
Rigid orthotics are designed to control function and are primarily worn in dress shoes and boots. They are composed of thin firm materials such as plastic or carbon fiber and are usually three quarter length to accommodate for different shaped shoes, i.e. pointed toe or round toe. These orthotics are used to improve or eliminate strains, aches, and pains in the feet, legs, thighs, and lower back.
Semi-rigid orthotics provide foot balance for walking, running and participating in sports. Sometimes, different sports call for different types of semi-rigid orthotics. The typical semi-rigid orthotic is made of layered soft materials and reinforced with more rigid materials. Children are prescribed this type of orthotic to treat flatfeet, in-toeing, out-toeing, and bunions. Athletes are often prescribed these orthotics to improve function and alleviate pain while training and competing. Construction workers or individuals who work on hard surfaces are often prescribed a well cushioned orthotic with a reinforced rigid supportive arch.
Custom foot orthotics may be covered by your health insurance company. Some plans cover one to two pairs per year or may be unlimited. If this is the case, custom orthotics can be prescribed specifically for your work shoes and your athletic shoes. Once your podiatrist has diagnosed your foot condition and has prescribed custom orthotics, our office staff will help you through the insurance coverage process.