Many of us suffer from problems with our feet that can lead to other conditions such as lower back pain, plantar fasciitis, knee pain and even sciatica. And some may suffer from previous injuries to the feet that never quite seemed to heal properly. If you’re one of these people, a beneficial option for you to explore is the use of custom foot orthotics.
What are Orthotics?
Orthotics are special foot supporting insoles that are worn inside the shoes. Typical orthotics provide arch and heel support to help the feet function optimally. You’ve probably seen generic over the counter orthotics at the drug store.
There are two main types of custom orthotics:
- Functional – these orthotics are worn to help control abnormal or improper motion as you walk or run. They are also helpful in treating injuries of the foot. They tend to be made of the stiffest most rigid materials.
- Accommodative – these orthotics are mainly for use in patients who require extra cushioning and support, such as those with flat feet. They are usually made of a softer material.
While generic over the counter orthotics can be helpful to people who suffer from mild food issues such as flat feet (low or no arches), for more serious issues that cause pain to radiate up the legs and into the hips, custom orthotics are much more effective.
How Custom Orthotics are Made
Because custom orthotics will need to be molded to your feet, there are several different methods of creating them that make them unique to you. Below is the most common method in use today:
Computerized and/or Gait Analysis Scan
Your care provider will start by performing a visual examination of your feet. Next, special scans will be taken. Sometimes a moving scan called a ‘gait analysis scan’ is taken – this involves capturing your feet in action as you walk in order to determine exactly how your feet function when in motion.
Once the scan results are finished, they are then sent to a lab along with your special prescription information that will contain details of your foot problems and the purpose of the orthotics. The lab will create the orthotics using the prescription information. Your custom orthotics will be created from special thermoplastic material.
Depending on your prescription, the material your custom orthotics will be made of will vary in thickness, width, and flexibility. Your weight and height will also be considered, as we as your age.
What are the Benefits of Custom Orthotics?
The benefits of custom orthotics are that they are especially made for your exact feet and condition. Whereas generic orthotics can help those with minor issues, custom orthotics can help treat and correct more serious issues of the foot.
Custom orthotics are designed to help properly position the ligaments, tendons and bones of the feet. The goal of custom orthotics is to ease pain and stress on the muscles of your feet and legs.
Custom orthotics are an important part of treatment for professional athletes. Obviously the use of our feet is an important part of everyday life, but for professional athletes, maintaining food help is doubly important or they will not be able to perform.
Are Custom Orthotics Expensive?
Custom orthotics can be expensive, but the good news is that a good pair of orthotics can last for up to ten years. And if you have a medical benefits plan, most or all of the cost is often covered. The best thing to do is check with your provider to find out what your entitlement is.
How Does it Feel to Wear Custom Orthotics?
While the end goal of custom orthotics is to reduce or completely alleviate pain, and treat conditions that result from problems with the feet, there can be a little bit of initial ‘getting used to’. Your feel will definitely feel different the first time you wear your orthotics. And because they will change the position of your foot, your legs and hips may also experience a learning curve as you develop new muscle memory in these areas. Most care providers will recommend that you take time to allow your body to adapt to the changes. For example, wearing your orthotics for a few hours at a time, or perhaps every other day until you get used to them, will help cut down on any initial discomfort you may feel. Of course if you find that your pain is worse when wearing them, they may need to be slightly adjusted.
As your body gets used to your new orthotics, you should expect a reduction in your symptoms, and after a period of time, hopefully the condition will be cured. It’s important to note however, that some people will need to wear these orthotics for life.
What if My Child Needs Custom Orthotics?
If your child has a condition that requires the use of custom orthotics, it’s noteworthy that as your child grows, there may be many adjustments to the orthotics. It’s best to discuss with your care provider, the details of how long your child will need to wear them. The good news is that correcting foot issues early can help greatly reduce them when your child is an adult.
What Conditions Can Custom Orthotics Treat?
As noted above, there are several conditions that can be treated by the use of custom orthotics. Let’s take a look at some of the most common conditions:
- Plantar fasciitis – the most common reason custom orthotics are prescribed
- Knee pain
- Heel spurs
- High arches
- Low arches or flat feet
- Problems with limb length (where one leg might be slightly shorter than the other)
- Foot pain related to injury or illness (such as diabetes)
- Runner’s knee or ankle
- Iliotibial band syndrome (a condition where the tendons of the knee cause pain in the knees and foot)
As you can see, custom orthotics can provide many benefits to patients suffering from conditions or injuries to the feet that can cause pain and symptoms all the way up the legs to the hips. If you have problems with your feet, custom orthotics may be an excellent option for you.Call one of our Vancouver Chiropractors today for more information!