We’ve all experienced foot pain at some point. In fact, the American Podiatric Medical Association recently conducted a poll that discovered more than half of Americans have had to stay home from work at some point due to disruptive foot pain.
Since our feet carry so much weight and stress for us on a daily basis, it’s not surprising that a wide variety of issues can occur. Fortunately, many foot problems can be treated with custom orthotics.
What Are Orthotics?
Orthotics are shoe inserts that are used as a way to treat various foot and ankle issues. A simple way to understand how they work is to think of arch support. Your feet have many jobs throughout the day—standing, walking, and exercising—and orthotics can help ease pain. They have a great track record of being successful when it comes to solving various issues.
You may have seen orthotics before. They are typically sold at drug stores as over-the-counter insoles. These will cushion your feet and bring some relief. However, the difference between pre-made orthotics and custom ones is personalization.
Custom orthotics are designed specifically for you. They will support every unique contour of your foot and ankle, while also accommodating and gradually correcting particular issues you may have.
Conditions That Custom Orthotics Can Help Resolve
If you are interested in custom orthotics, it’s important to know what they can and cannot help with. Your podiatrist will help you make this determination. If it’s a feasible option, a quality podiatrist will try orthotics before invasive solutions like surgery. Custom orthotics can resolve abnormal or irregular walking patterns, provide pain relief, and correct certain types of foot deformities.
Abnormal or Irregular Walking Patterns
Everyone has a particular way of walking, also known as your gait. It’s far more than appearance—it can also be a solid indicator of your foot health. There are many issues that can contribute to an abnormal gait, including pigeon toe, arthritis, or birth defects. If you continue to walk with an irregular gait, you might start to see problems in other areas of your health including numbness in the legs, back pain, and injury from falling if you roll a weak ankle.
Custom orthotics resolve abnormal walking patterns in a few different ways.
- They reposition the feet. Orthotics train your feet to be aligned with your ankles. They target unusual motions and redirect your feet and ankles into a proper position.
- They reduce pain. Custom inserts reduce pain, which allows you to eventually correct the way you walk. Abnormal gait is often just an adaptation from pain tolerance. If you suffer from issues like Achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis, orthotics are very helpful at relieving pain.
- They correct posture. Custom orthotics lift the arch to an appropriate height necessary to rebalance your feet. This will in turn provide better support for your legs and hips, which can straighten out your posture.
- They treat supination. This occurs when your ankle rolls to the outside edge of your foot. Over time, it can cause stress and pain that reaches all the way up the legs. Orthotics provide a stable base and proper ankle support.
Custom foot orthotics go above and beyond the typical drug store find when it comes to pain relief. The personalized version comes in two forms—hard devices and soft orthotics. The hard version, known as rigid or functional orthotics, are devices that are custom-fit to your feet and shoes. They are created out of a hard plastic that works to reduce pain in not only your feet, but also the hips, knees, and back.
Rigid orthotics modify and adjust the way your feet move. They change the distribution of force and can also provide an impact-reducing cushion that can protect you from injury. If you are experiencing pain from high arches, arthritis, diabetes, bunions, or other debilitating conditions, orthotics can provide relief.
Foot deformities occur either at birth or as a result of a long-term illness like diabetes. While a current deformity often cannot be undone, custom orthotics can help prevent it from getting worse or prevent further deformities from occurring if you are at risk due to a specific circumstance or condition.
This is especially true with children. Kids who have foot deformities can benefit greatly from custom orthotics. Most podiatrists will recommend that a child be placed in orthotics as soon as they start walking. This is because orthotics work to stabilize the foot, which can prevent the development of injuries or a poor gait. Orthotics can often fit directly into a standard shoe, which allows them to be somewhat hidden and avoid the issue of a child feeling “different.”
Custom orthotics need to be replaced whenever the child has grown two shoe sizes. As the child’s foot develops and changes, various types of orthotics may be used to adapt alongside the child’s growth and current situation.
Helpful Tips for Custom Orthotics
If you will be receiving custom orthotics, there are a few things you can do to maximize their impact and effectiveness:
- Wear shoes that accommodate orthotics well. A podiatrist can recommend some options to you.
- Bring your custom orthotics with you whenever you go shoe shopping. Be sure to wear socks as well.
- Attend all follow-up and maintenance appointments for your custom orthotics. This is the best way to ensure everything is working well and providing you with maximum benefit.
Are You Considering Custom Orthotics in Austin, TX?
If you are considering custom orthotics, you should reach out to an experienced podiatrist. Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us online or call our Austin office at 512.328.8900.