Do Orthotics Really Help Relieve Foot, Knee, Hip Or Back Pain?
Like with anything related to medical science, there are varying opinions about how much orthotics do, as well as what they’re genuinely capable of. It’s natural to be skeptical of something – especially if you’ve been living with pain for an extended period of time and you haven’t had much luck finding relief.
Orthotics may not be an option for everyone – some people will need corrective surgery whether or not they use orthotic devices. For the many people who can benefit from orthotics, they have a significant potential to relieve pain in many parts of the body.
How Do Orthotics Work?
Orthotics address issues with alignment and weight distribution. If you’re flat footed, for example, you’re more likely to have foot problems that can cause pain all the way up into your back. This is because a healthy foot arch would provide better weight distribution, and without it, you’re putting a huge burden on your feet.
A properly fitted orthotic device would work by providing an artificial version of the support that your body isn’t giving you. This support reduces the amount of pain you feel, which makes it easier for you to move around. Movement, particularly muscle building and aligning exercises, are necessary to restore your body’s proper alignment.
What Makes Orthotics Different From Other Pain Treatments?
Pain medications don’t actually treat pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs will reduce the inflammation that leads to pain, but most other drugs work on your brain. They limit your ability to feel the pain that you’re experiencing, allowing you to live your life without the pain interrupting your daily activities. Some of them come with negative side effects.
The problem with relying solely on medications is that they usually aren’t improving the problem. In fact, the injury may be worsening over time unbeknownst to the patient. Orthotics are external devices – they don’t alter the mind. You’re able to feel your pain, understand what makes it worse, and figure out what steps to take to correct that pain for the long term. While some patients use orthotics in conjunction with medications that their doctor prescribes, many patients will find that the orthotic alone is enough. Always listen to your doctor.
Will Orthotics Actually Make The Pain Go Away?
The ability of an orthotic device to treat a problem and reduce the pain it causes largely depends on what the problem is. Back pain that comes from a problem like scoliosis might require surgery, as it is a major defect within the spine. Orthotics can become a part of the surgical recovery process, but they aren’t a complete solution.
Orthotics work best for minor issues – particularly those where surgery would be deemed too extreme, or has already been performed. They’re also great for common overuse injuries experienced by people who work on their feet or are very athletic. Many diabetes patients find that orthotics help the address some of the painful side effects that come with their condition, particularly those affecting the feet and the lower legs.
Since orthotics work by modifying the way your body moves, they correct painful movements and minor muscular injuries that make life difficult. If your body isn’t moving the way that it’s supposed to, weight and pressure are being put onto muscles, tendons, and joints that aren’t prepared to handle it. That’s the source of the pain. Orthotics redirect the weight and pressure to give the affected area a break, restoring the autonomy of the wearer.
Can I Use Orthotics Forever?
Ideally, no one should have to use orthotics forever. Some people prefer to wear orthotic inserts on a daily basis because they make walking more comfortable. Their needs may change over time, especially with age or overuse of the feet. More serious orthotics, such as knee braces, are better used over a shorter term.
People with serious injuries may wind up using them for a few years as part of a larger recovery plan. Some patients, like patients with cerebral palsy or other perpetually degenerative conditions, might benefit from using and changing orthotics indefinitely. This is because there is no cure for these conditions, and true recovery cannot occur.
In the perfect scenario, orthotics provide patients with the support and pain relief they need when they’re attempting to strengthen their muscles, heal their joints and tendons, and bring their bodies back into proper working order. Most people use them temporarily, in tandem with physical therapy or a doctor recommended exercise regimen.
Will Orthotics Help My Pain?
There’s a good chance that they may, provided that you don’t have a condition that requires immediate medical intervention. If you’re curious about orthotics, talk to your doctor. You may be able to incorporate the relief they give into a long-term treatment plan that will help you recover and live a pain-free life.