No doubt you’ve seen the TV commercials for rubber or synthetic inserts you slip into your shoes, or you’ve seen them on display at the convenience store or pharmacy. They’re everywhere these days, and a lot has been said about how much they can help with foot conditions.
Although they can be helpful in many cases, custom orthotics are in a whole different league altogether. Unlike mass-produced inserts, these tools are custom made just for you after a full examination by a podiatrist, and are often one of the best ways to deal with chronic discomfort due to a wide variety of foot problems.
The Difference a Custom Orthotic Makes
First of all, we don’t want you to get the idea that over-the-counter inserts are bad—in fact, we often recommend them to patients with relatively minor cases of heel pain, arch pain, or other conditions. Prefabricated inserts are made to fit the most common general foot shapes and may be able to provide short-term pain relief in many cases, at a relatively low price point—you should never have to pay more than $35 to $50.
That said, inserts can’t really compete with custom orthotics when you need something a little bit stronger to deal with your deformity or discomfort. We’ll take a mold of your foot, then send it to a fabrication plant. The resulting orthotic is designed for you and only you, tailored both for your precise foot shape as well as your lifestyle goals, fitting no one else. This allows the orthotic to be much more effective in a wider variety of situations than a mass-produced insert.
Although the custom orthotic is more expensive initially ($300 to $400), it’s often covered by insurance and is much more durable and long-lasting than over-the-counter alternatives. In the long-run it may even be cheaper for those who need one, in addition to providing better results.
Types of Orthotics
Orthotics generally fall into two broad categories: accommodative or functional.
When we say accommodative, we’re talking about devices whose primary purpose is to provide additional cushioning or support. All over-the-counter inserts fall into this category; custom orthotics do it even better. This type of orthotic is particularly helpful with conditions like foot ulcers, calluses, heel pain, flat feet or high arches, or other painful conditions that mostly involve how weight and pressure is applied to your foot.
By contrast, functional orthotics are primarily designed to correct abnormal motion. If your foot pain is related to unstable ankles, severe overpronation, or other conditions that affect your gait or cause your feet to move in unhealthy ways, a functional orthotic will help you gain or restore a normal walking pattern, relieving the underlying source of your discomfort.
Conditions that commonly result in a custom orthotic prescription include heel pain (especially plantar fasciitis), arthritis, arch pain, flat feet, and foot fatigue, along with many others. Due to their customizable nature, orthotics can be beneficial for a wide range of foot problems and conditions and are often a treatment option for those with almost any chronic foot pain condition.
Alternatives to Orthotics
In certain cases where a functional orthotic might be prescribed to correct flat or misaligned feet, you may also be a candidate for a state-of-the-art treatment known as HyProCure. This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that involves implanting a titanium stent into a naturally occurring space between your ankle and heel, and can stabilize your heel and realign your joints without the need for orthotics. We will evaluate your condition to see if this is an option for you.
When you visit our office complaining of any type of foot pain, you can rest assured that Dr. Darren Silvester of Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic has the experience, training, and tools necessary to correctly diagnose your problem and develop a range of treatment options custom-tailored for your unique feet and your desired lifestyle. To set up an appointment at our Universal City or Pleasanton, TX office, please call us toll free at 855-972-9512.