Orthotics: What They Do And How They Can Help You
The general fit orthotics sold by big box retailers are not often enough for people experiencing pain, discomfort or difficulty performing their day-to-day activities. Everyone is different and some individuals need a custom solution in order to return to their best selves. When generic solutions aren’t working for you, it’s time to consider getting on specialty orthotics designed with your unique needs in mind.
What Are Orthotics Used For?
There are many different scenarios in which a person might find relief through the use of orthotics. They might become necessary while recovering from an injury or to assist with physical therapy. Sometimes, the arches of the feet fall due to overuse of the body over a prolonged period of time. Other people are born with an immediate need for orthotics.
An orthosis is designed to correct any discomfort or pain someone may experience from the feet up, though some orthotics are designed for upper body support. Some people might seek a solution in the form of orthotic insoles designed to fit inside of a shoe, but these kinds of orthotics are significantly limited in their ability to make a difference.
While they might make certain shoes more comfortable or even make it easier to work standing up for longer periods of time, they are best reserved for individuals who only experience minor discomfort when doing so. Custom orthotics are the best solution for individuals who need and deserve more help than what the average shoe insert can provide.
Who Needs Orthotics?
Outside of common complaints associated with feet, orthotics can be designed to provide support to individuals living with or recovering from a broad variety of ailments or traumas. Injuries from manual labor or physically demanding jobs, as well as athletics are often improved with the use of orthotics.
People With Muscular Ailments
Individuals living with degenerative or neuromuscular diseases may benefit from the use of orthotics in certain situations. People with muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, or spina bifida might use an orthosis to improve alignment of the spine and enhance motion control.
People With Hip Or Spinal Injuries
Those recovering from surgical procedures such as a hip replacement or a major back surgery can use orthotics to become mobile with minimized pain. Orthotic devices, particularly those that encompass the trunk of the body, keep the back straight and stabilize posture.
Orthotics For The Upper And Lower Extremities
While most orthotic devices are designed for the lower body, there are a number of devices designed to provide support to the upper body. Orthotics can support you from your shoulder to your hand or from your trunk to your soles. There is a solution for virtually every patient, no matter what their needs may be.
What Orthotics Do For Lower Extremities
Orthotics for the lower extremities are used at or below the trunk, sometimes as low on the ankle depending on what they are supposed to do. These pieces make it easier for the wearer to move around with finer control and keep them stable while walking or standing. They also redistribute weight to alleviate the painful burden from sensitive or sore areas.
Lower body orthotics can be used to keep deformities from getting worse when properly worn and regularly adjusted. Certain deformities that are flexible in nature may be permanently or temporarily corrected with some custom orthotics.
What Orthotics Do For Upper Extremities
Upper body orthotics generally come in the form of braces or splints. These are most commonly used by people who are healing, as the majority of these devices are used to prevent the movement of joints or immobilize an upper limb. They are generally temporary, and by the end of the healing process, many individuals will no longer require additional support.
Some upper extremity orthotics can be used to direct deformities or improve limb functionality for individuals living with chronic or debilitating conditions. They can also be used to create an attachment point for assistive devices for patients who require those devices.
Specialized Lower Body Orthotics
Lower body orthotics are designed from the foot up, and additional layers of support are added when necessary. Typically, these orthotics climb from the ankle up. An ankle-foot orthosis, a knee-ankle-foot orthosis, a hip-knee-ankle-foot orthosis, or a trunk-hip-knee-ankle-foot orthosis might be a solution for you.
Ankle-foot orthoses (AFO’s) are among the most common orthotics, and you might even find general fit versions of them at your local drug store. Many athletes or people whose careers require them to stand or walk for much of the day use these devices for recovery or support.
Though they are occasionally used as preventative measures, particularly against the dropping of the arch of the foot or potential heel strain, AFO’s can also be used to relieve pain and improve stability. It’s vital to be properly measured for a custom ankle-foot orthosis, because solutions that come prepackaged won’t be able to determine where and how you need support.
A knee-ankle-foot orthosis (KAFO) provides foot and ankle support while incorporating a knee joint. The internal stability supports are designed to prevent the knee from moving involuntarily, or “giving out” while walking. These are often used by patients with significant muscle weakness, dystrophy or paralysis.
With a custom design, wearers are able to enjoy a full range of motion and the ability to walk without their orthosis working against them. The fluidity of the joint in a well designed KAFO won’t interrupt natural movement or put unnecessary pressure on the knee area.
Orthotics For Children
Some children born with flat feet require ankle supports. Supra malleolar orthoses hug the ankles of these children, helping them walk and build the strength they need. This is a relatively common orthotic need for children, though it is not the only orthotic need they may have. Children may require orthotic devices to recover from an injury or deal with a disease or disability.
A child’s orthotic needs will differ significantly from an adult’s needs. Children grow, and devices will need to be adjusted or redesigned in order to accommodate their growth. Children typically heal much faster than adults, which makes frequent checkups necessary to measure the efficiency of an orthotic device.
Choosing An Orthotics Provider
The right orthotic provider needs to be thorough and accurate when measuring a patient for a custom device. Devices may need to be adjusted or even replaced over time, depending on the nature of the patient’s condition.
A custom orthotic should be lightweight and comfortable to use. A great provider will go the extra mile to work with the patient to assess things like comfort and ease of use. Advances in medical technology have made it easier than ever before to provide top quality orthotic devices to those who need them the most and the right provider will be at the forefront of this technology.
Tony Martin Limb & Brace in Tucson, AZ is committed to providing patients with the very best custom orthotics for their specific needs. Please call us today for your free consultation.