What Are Orthotics and Why Do We Need Them?
Orthotics are devices that you wear inside your shoes, in place of the original insoles. They are designed to help align and retrain joints and muscles in the feet, which in turn realigns and reduces stress on joints and muscles throughout the standing skeletal system.
This is critically important for many people with constant foot pain. Under ideal circumstances, your foot arch is supposed to act as a natural “spring” that absorbs shocks and keeps the rest of your body in good alignment. But modern realities, such as poor shoes and hard surfaces everywhere, can lead to chronic pain—especially if your feet already have some structural or biomechanical problems.
The right set of orthotics can provide the support and cushioning your feet are lacking, realign your foot posture, improve your biomechanics, and get your arch back to working like the spring it should be.
Brace Yourself: There’s Two Different Types
There are actually two types of orthotics: the kind you can get at your local pharmacy and the kind you are prescribed from a podiatrist. Technically, the over-the-counter shoe inserts from the store that come in packages with the words “arch support,” “insoles,” and “heel cups” on them cannot be called orthotics, although they’re often referred to as such. These type of inserts are alright if you need temporary cushioning, but they’re not useful if you have a long-term foot problem or a condition like diabetes or poor circulation. Only orthotics prescribed from a podiatrist can correct your biomechanical problems, eliminate your foot problem, and truly be called “custom orthotics.”
Why Custom Orthotics and Not Over-The-Counter Inserts?
You might be thinking, “Can’t I just go to the store and buy some arch supports?”
You could do that, but we don’t recommend it for a couple of reasons. One is that there are a lot of devices out there, and there’s a good chance the ones you pick out won’t be the right fit for your feet. And two, your foot misalignment might be severe enough that no over-the-counter orthotics will really be “close enough” to properly address your needs.
At our office, we’ll closely examine your feet and the unique way you walk when determining what kind of support you may need.
If we think you only need over-the-counter orthotics, we’re happy to provide them for you. We’ll make sure they’re fitted properly, and are just what you need.
If you need a more customized approach, our office is equipped with the most advanced system ever devised to design, fit, and create custom orthotics—the Go 4-D orthotics platform. We can take precise measurements via high-definition digital scanning and capture exact, real-time data as you walk over a pressure plate. Orthotics are then designed from the ground up (using advanced software) and 3-D printed from scratch, ensuring a perfect fit down to the microscopic level.
If you’re just going out on the town or volunteering for the weekend, you might want to try an over-the-counter insert to cushion your feet before switching to a custom orthotic. However, if you’re suffering from excessive foot pain and have an ongoing problem, custom orthotics are the way to go. A pair prescribed by a podiatrist will cost more, but they are constructed from materials that last longer—typically from 3 to 5 years—and provide better stability and support. Your insurance may also cover some of the cost.
When it comes to your foot pain, invest in quality care that will prevent future problems. Make an appointment with Victoria L. Melhuish, DPM, at Sierra Foot and Ankle in Carson City, NV. Our office also serves the surrounding areas of Reno, Gardnerville, and Minden. To make an appointment call (775) 783-8037.