If you spend a significant amount of your life on your feet, you might find that they ache from time to time. Demanding jobs or lifestyles often keep us more active than we’d like, and many people have a tendency to push through the pain. If you’ve come to the decision that your foot pain is recurring or chronic rather than temporary, it’s time to start looking into solutions to manage that discomfort.
There are two ways to approach the problem. One of them is with an over the counter shoe insert that you can buy at almost any drugstore or even grocery store. The other is a custom tailored approach, called an orthotic device, that will address specific needs.
What are Shoe Inserts?
Shoe inserts are devices typically made of gel or foam. They’re designed to provide generic support to the foot and cushion to the shoes you wear. Most shoe inserts are designed to provide a little extra arch support or to provide cushioning to the heel. They’re often affordable and come in sizes that correlate to shoe sizes.
What Do Shoe Inserts Help With?
Shoe inserts help with occasional discomfort. If your job requires you to walk around a lot, like foodservice, janitorial work, or grounds keeping, busy days may cause your feet or lower back to ache. Shoe inserts can provide a little bit of support that suits common needs and can make your work shoes a little more comfy. That’s the extent of what they can provide.
What Are Custom Orthotics?
An orthotic device is a custom prescription medical device designed to treat complex problems. If you have flat feet, plantar faciitis, arthritis, diabetes, or a foot deformity, a custom orthotic can be made to alleviate pain that stems from your feet.
What Do Custom Orthotics Help With?
Custom orthotics are prescribed for chronic foot pain, conditions that cause recurring pain in the lower body, and foot deformities. They make walking and standing easier by providing highly tailored support to the feet in the areas where they need it most.
Are Custom Orthotics Better Than Over The Counter Shoe Inserts?
Custom orthotics, when necessary, will almost always be better than over the counter shoe inserts. Over the counter shoe inserts simply have cushioning distributed in areas where a lot of people report discomfort. They aren’t versatile enough to respond to your specific needs. You may need more support in some areas and less support in others. The manufacturer who made the shoe insert won’t know your needs.
Without a detailed examination of your feet, proper support cannot be provided. Shoe inserts won’t provide any meaningful help to people who have highly specific needs.
How Do I Know if I Need Custom Orthotics?
Shoe inserts are used to treat discomfort. Custom orthotics are used to treat medical issues. Discomfort is not always the result of a medical issue. Some muscle strain, foot swelling, or pain related to overuse injuries is common in people who have completely normal feet. Overworking any healthy part of the body can cause pain and soreness. Think about how you feel after a hard workout at the gym. There’s nothing wrong with you – it’s simply how your muscles respond to pressure.
If you’re experiencing frequent or prolonged foot pain, see a doctor. Your doctor will be able to examine your feet and determine the cause of the pain. If he or she believes that there are many factors involved and that the pain may occur, you may receive a prescription for custom orthotics.
You may be prescribed one of two types of orthotics. You will either need functional orthotics or accommodative orthotics. Functional orthotics are made of harder materials, such as plastic. They’re designed to correct the motion of the foot if the pain is stemming from abnormal motion.
Accommodative orthotics are created to provide comfort to people who live with conditions like diabetes and experience things like foot ulcers as a result of their illness. Occasionally, doctors suggest solutions like accommodative orthotics for pregnant women who experience foot swelling and discomfort.
It’s important not to assume in this situation. If you need a custom solution, brush it off, and get over the counter shoe inserts, your problem will not actually be fixed. The issue will only worsen with time. Always explore the possibility of an orthotic solution first, and either rule it out or proceed.
How Are Custom Orthotics Made?
Once you’ve received a prescription for custom orthotics from your doctor, your doctor and your orthotics provider will work together to create the best solution for you. Your doctor will send your medical information, along with any relevant x-rays or scans of your feet. Your podiatrist may ask you to perform tasks, explain the sensations you feel when walking or running, and take three dimensional scans of your feet.
All of this information is used to create a custom foot support solution that is unique to your needs. It will address every area where over the counter shoe inserts fall short. There’s no way a generic design will work perfectly for you. You require the expert craftsmanship or an orthotist to provide you with a device that will really work.
Orthotic devices are prescription devices. You cannot have custom orthotics made without a prescription from a doctor. If you attempt to use an orthotic device when it’s unnecessary or a device that wasn’t made for you, chances are high that you’ll wind up worsening your condition. Orthotics are designed to change the way your body works, and if they’re changing something that isn’t wrong, the ramifications can be serious.
If your doctor agrees that orthotics are right for you, you can bring your prescription to us at Tony Martin Limb and Brace. We have decades of experience creating custom solutions for patients with all needs, no matter how complicated those needs may be. We are the most experienced provider in all of Southern Arizona. Let us show you how you’ll benefit from our experience.