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Custom Foot Orthotics

Updated: Jan 11

In this blog post Cypress foot and ankle specialist Dr. Christopher Correa DPM FACFAS discusses custom foot orthotics or "inserts". Custom foot orthotics are special inserts that are designed to be worn inside shoes to help correct or alleviate foot problems and improve the function of the feet. They are typically made from a mold, impression, or scan of a person's feet, which is then used to create a unique and customized insert that is tailored to their specific foot anatomy and biomechanics.

Types of foot orthotics

There are 2 broad categories of custom orthotics – accommodative and functional.

An accommodative custom foot orthotic is a type of orthotic designed to provide cushioning and support for the foot, rather than correcting specific foot problems or biomechanical issues. The main function of an accommodative custom foot orthotic is to provide relief from pressure, discomfort, or pain in the feet by absorbing shock and reducing impact when walking or standing. Accommodative custom foot orthotics are often made from multiple layers of soft, cushioned materials, such as foam or gel. As they are made from softer materials, accommodative orthotics break down sooner and may only last a few months of daily use. It is important to note that accommodative custom foot orthotics are not designed to correct specific foot problems or biomechanical issues. This type of orthotic is very common for diabetics to help prevent callus and wound formation. The diabetic shoe program typically allows for patients who receive 3 sets of inserts per year.

Functional foot orthotics are commonly used to treat conditions such as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, flat feet, high arches, overpronation, neuromas, arthritis, bunions, Tarsal tunnel syndrome, limb length discrepancy, and other conditions that affect the feet. They work by helping to redistribute weight and pressure across the foot, realigning the bones and joints, and improving the function of the muscles and ligaments in the foot. A custom foot orthotic is designed to perform a specific function or functions to improve the function of the feet and alleviate pain or discomfort. Some of the main functions of custom foot orthotics include:

  • Realigning the bones and joints of the foot by redistributing weight and pressure across the foot, reducing strain on the joints and realigning the bones to improve their function.

  • Supporting the arches of the foot which can help to improve the alignment of the foot and reduce the risk of injury.

  • Correcting overpronation, a condition where the foot rolls inward excessively, putting excessive strain on the muscles and joints of the foot. Custom foot orthotics can help to correct overpronation by controlling the movement of the foot and reducing strain on the foot and ankle.

  • Reducing pain and discomfort associated with conditions such as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and other foot problems by improving the function of the feet and reducing pressure on the affected areas.

  • Improving balance and stability by improving the function of the feet.

But aren't the over-the-counter ones just as good?

Custom Functional foot orthotics are typically more effective than over-the-counter (OTC) inserts because they are designed specifically for an individual's feet, taking into account their unique anatomy and biomechanics. They are often made from high-quality materials, such as foam or plastic, and are designed to provide optimal support and comfort for the foot. These high-quality plastics allow for functional orthotics to last for many years while over the counter foam devices tend to last on average 4-6 months of daily use before losing most of their corrective ability. OTC orthotics do make a great trial set to experiment and verify what works before jumping to a custom functional orthotic. Most of the OTC orthotic sold in big box stores and online claim to be functional orthotics but are really accommodative devices. You can easily determine this by the amount of flexibility and "softness" of the device causing it to easily collapse and fold when any pressure is applied to the arch section.

If you are experiencing foot pain or discomfort, it is important to see a doctor for a proper evaluation and diagnosis. Your doctor can determine if custom foot orthotics would be a helpful treatment option for your specific condition and help you find a qualified orthotics provider to create a customized insert that is right for you. If you are experiencing foot or ankle pain, make an appointment with the experts at Select Foot and Ankle Specialists and take the first step toward recovery today.

Foot orthotics, Custom foot orthotics

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