Every trade or occupation has its respective tools to get the job done. Carpenters tend to be quite handy with a hammer. Police officers sometimes have to use handcuffs to keep citizens safe from unruly individuals. Our foot doctors also have their own tools of the trade, including custom orthotics. The shoe inserts that we craft specifically for your unique feet can achieve various objectives, depending on the condition that is causing you pain or restricted mobility.
An Intro to Custom Orthotics
Some individuals may associate the term orthotics with “shoe inserts.” This isn’t entirely wrong, but it is important to note that there are some distinctions between a pair of custom orthotics and shoe inserts that are bought at the store. Yes, orthotics might be used to provide arch support—as can over-the-counter pairs of inserts—but they also can perform functions to correct an abnormal gait or alleviate the discomfort that comes with a troublesome bunion.
Over-the Counter Inserts
Inserts bought at the store cannot possibly offer the same level of customization as the orthotic devices we provide for you here at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, but they still have their respective merits. Whereas these should not be used to treat a medical condition, store-bought inserts can provide extra cushioning and even some arch support for individuals who run or participate in high-impact activities. Keep in mind that if your goal is to alleviate pain from a medical condition, pass on the mass-produced inserts and come see our foot doctors instead.
Types of Prescription Orthotics
Prescription orthotic devices generally fall into one of two categories – functional or accommodative. Functional orthotics are often used to address issues that stem from abnormal motion or biomechanical processes. They accomplish this by controlling the motion and adjusting it to a more natural or neutral process, thereby alleviating pain or other symptoms. Typically, functional orthotic devices are constructed from plastic, graphite, or other semi-rigid materials.
Accommodative orthotics, on the other hand, are generally used to provide additional support or cushioning to assist in treating a condition. They are often constructed from softer materials and can be a part of treatment for uncomfortable conditions like painful calluses or diabetic foot ulcers.
Conditions Treated by Orthotics
The key distinction between orthotic devices and shoe inserts is that store-bought inserts should not be used to treat a medical condition. With this being the case, it is important to understand which issues can be treated with the use of custom orthoses. These include:
- Flatfoot. If the condition doesn’t cause pain, there is no need for treatment. When the resulting overpronation leads to issues in the feet, ankles, knees, hips, and back, however, we may prescribe a pair of orthotics.
- Corns. A toe separator is a type of device that may be helpful for this particular condition.
- Hallux rigidus. In cases of stiff big toes, patients often benefited from stiff inserts, Morton extension inlays, or even rocker bottom soles.
- Hammertoe. We may use a toe crest to help relieve the symptoms of this particular toe deformity.
- Metatarsalgia. Patients who suffer from this forefoot pain often benefit from pads or bars strategically placed under the metatarsals (the bones in the forefoot).
- Plantar Fasciitis. Heel inserts made of rubber, felt, or silicone are often quite effective at providing relief from the pain that accompanies this condition.
There are other conditions that might also benefit from the use of custom prepared devices, but we always assess your specific foot or ankle issue to determine what will work best for you.
Custom Orthotic Preparation in Austin, TX
If a pair of orthotics is your best bet for conservative treatment of a foot or ankle issue that causes pain or impinges upon your ability to move, then our expert foot doctors will provide the right pair for you by measuring your feet and analyzing your gait. Our goal is effective treatment for every patient and these valuable tools help us to do that. Contact our Austin, TX office by calling (512) 328-8900 or use our online form to request more information or schedule your appointment today.