Do I Need Orthotics?

Orthotics is a word that is often bandied about when talking about foot pain, but what exactly are they?  The simple definition is a device such as a splint, support or brace used to help correct or improve the function of movable parts of the body.

Orthotics in podiatry are generally inserts that fit inside your shoes to help correct problems with walking or running by altering how your foot hits the ground.  Unlike ‘over the counter’ inserts they are made specifically for you and will improve how you walk and stand, helping with any associated foot and possibly back pain.  Orthotics can also help with diabetic foot ulcers, painful calluses and other problems that cause pain when walking – these tend to be a little softer and provide both a cushion and support for damaged feet.

Do I Need Orthotics

Your podiatrist is the right person to tell you if you need orthotics, but there are some key indicators that you should be aware of.

If you are on your feet a lot then they may need some extra support to help relieve the extra stress that you are putting on them.

If your shoes show an irregular wear pattern, one side more worn down than they other is often a sign that  you are rolling your feet which can cause long term foot and back problems.

If you have suffered from a hip, leg, knee, lower back, ankle or foot that could affect how you walk placing unnecessary strain on unaffected areas.

If you have any foot pain you should always consult a qualified Podiatrist.  We tend to ignore foot pain when it can often be dealt with quickly and simply.  A suitable orthotic can be part of the solution.

Types of Orthotics

A podiatrist will prescribe one of two main types of orthotics for you- rigid and soft.

Rigid or functional orthotics are made from firm, rigid materials such as carbon fibre or plastic.  They are used for aching or painful feet, lower back and leg pain.

Soft orthotics, also known as accommodative, are made from softer materials. They provide support and cushioning for diabetic ulcers, plantar fasciitis or other types of foot ulcer.

What Will A Podiatrist Do?

Your podiatrist will take careful note of your description of the problem with your feet. They will look for contributing factors such as other health issues.  They will make a careful examination of your feet, evaluating the biomechanics of your feet and legs to see how well they are functioning. The examination will include watching how you walk and may involve a full gait analysis to see how you are walking.  

If your podiatrist determines that you need a prescription orthotic rather than an insert they will  carefully record the details of your foot, taking appropriate measurements. This information will be used to create a foot support that is unique to you and should provide relief from pain and discomfort.  You may also require additional treatment to help improve the condition of your feet.

If you are suffering from any form of chronic foot pain, you should visit your podiatrist as soon as possible to avoid further damage.  The Foot Care Group provides a free assessment to see if you need further treatment. Please contact us to arrange an appointment.

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