Summer Fun in RecoveryMany people suffer from chronic foot pain, and often don't realize that the solution to their discomfort may be as simple as investing in foot orthotics. Foot orthotics are custom-made shoe inserts that are designed to provide support, improve alignment, and alleviate pain in the feet, ankles, and other parts of the body. While many people may assume that foot orthotics are only necessary for those with these conditions, the truth is that they can be beneficial for anyone looking to take care of their feet and improve their overall health.

If you are struggling with foot pain, Dr. Ed Davis at South Texas Podiatry is highly skilled in diagnosing your condition from the root cause and treating you to return to your peak health.

Here is everything you need to know about foot orthotics.

What Are Foot Orthotics?

Foot orthotics, also known as orthotic insoles or inserts, are devices worn inside shoes to provide support, cushioning, and stability to the feet. They are designed to help alleviate foot and lower limb pain, correct or prevent foot deformities, and improve overall foot function. Orthotics are commonly used to treat conditions such as plantar fasciitis, flat feet, high arches, heel spurs, and knee or back pain. They work by redistributing pressure and providing shock absorption, which helps to reduce discomfort and prevent further injury.

Orthotics can be custom-made by a podiatrist or purchased over-the-counter at a pharmacy or specialty store. They can be made of a variety of materials including foam, gel, plastic, or even metal. While orthotics can be a helpful tool for improving foot health, it is important to work with a healthcare professional to determine the best type of orthotic for your specific needs, as there are two specific kinds of foot orthotics--accommodative and functional.

Accommodative Foot Orthotics

Accommodative foot orthotics are a type of foot orthotic that is designed to provide cushioning and support to the bottom of the foot. These orthotics are often used to treat conditions such as diabetic foot ulcers, arthritis, or other conditions that cause foot pain or discomfort. Accommodative orthotics are often made of softer materials, such as foam, cork, leather, or silicone, which can provide a cushioning effect to the foot. They are also typically designed with a more flexible arch support compared to their functional orthotic counterparts.

Accommodative foot orthotics can be custom-made by a podiatrist, or they can be purchased over the counter. For those in need of foot support and cushioning, accommodative orthotics can be a helpful and effective tool in improving foot health and reducing or preventing pain.

Functional Foot Orthotics

Functional orthotics are a type of foot orthotic that is designed to correct or prevent foot abnormalities and control motion. They work by repositioning the foot and controlling how much it can move. Functional orthotics are often made of stiffer materials, such as graphite, plastic, or even carbon fiber, which provide a firm and rigid support structure to the foot. They can be used to treat conditions such as flat feet, high arches, and other foot deformities that cause foot pain or discomfort. Functional orthotics can be custom-made by a podiatrist, who will take a mold of the patient's foot in order to create a personalized orthotic that meets their specific needs.

Functional orthotics are typically designed with a heel cup that cradles the heel and helps keep the foot in the proper position. They can also include arch supports or wedges that help redistribute pressure on the foot. Functional orthotics can support pain in the lower extremities such as bursitis in the ankle, knee, or hip. While functional orthotics can be effective in treating foot conditions, it is important to work with a healthcare professional to determine which type of orthotic is best suited for an individual's specific needs.

How Are Foot Orthotics Made?

Foot orthotics can be made in a variety of ways depending on the specific type and the individual’s needs. Custom orthotics are typically made by a podiatrist or orthopedist and require an initial consultation and examination, during which the healthcare provider will assess the individual’s foot structure and any symptoms or abnormalities they may be experiencing.

In order to fabricate a custom orthotic, the podiatrist will take a mold of the individual’s foot using a plaster cast, foam box, or digital scanner. This mold is then sent to a laboratory where a technician will use specialized computer software to create a 3D image of the foot. This image is then used to design a custom orthotic that meets the individual’s specific needs, including factors such as foot structure and any areas of pressure or discomfort. The orthotic is typically made using materials such as foam, plastic, or carbon fiber, which are then shaped and molded to the individual’s exact specifications.

Over-the-counter orthotics, on the other hand, are mass-produced and available for purchase at drug stores or online. These are designed to fit a variety of foot sizes and shapes and may be made of materials such as foam or gel. Regardless of the type of orthotic, it is important to follow the healthcare provider’s instructions for use and to have regular check-ins to ensure the orthotic is providing the desired level of support and comfort.

How Do I Know If I Need Foot Orthotics?

Determining if one needs foot orthotics involves considering several factors related to the individual’s foot health and any symptoms they may be experiencing. If an individual is experiencing foot, ankle, knee, or back pain or discomfort, or has any visible foot abnormalities or deformities, a visit to a podiatrist or other healthcare professional may be warranted.

During a visit, the healthcare provider will likely take a medical history and conduct a physical exam while observing the individual’s gait and foot positioning. X-rays or other imaging tests may also be ordered, depending on the individual’s symptoms. If it is determined that an individual could benefit from foot orthotics, a custom orthotic may be recommended to provide the necessary support and cushioning. Over-the-counter orthotics may also be an option for milder cases of foot pain or discomfort.

Additionally, individuals who are very active or who participate in sports may benefit from wearing foot orthotics as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of foot injuries. Overall, it is important to consider any symptoms or abnormalities related to foot health and to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if foot orthotics are an appropriate intervention.

If you are struggling with foot pain or are in need of foot orthotics, contact Dr. Ed Davis at South Texas Podiatry for the top care in foot orthotics or similar treatment addressing your foot pain. Contact our office or schedule an appointment directly from our website today!