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Reduced or compromised functions of your limbs can have severely adverse effects on your physical as well as mental health. Some musculoskeletal conditions can even affect your spine and make the smallest movements feel excruciatingly painful.
Orthotics are custom-made prescribed medical devices that offer solutions and help.
A podiatrist or physician examines your symptoms and prescribes orthotics for you that are tailored to your specific conditions.
Here is a comprehensive guide for you to understand what custom orthotics are and how they help you regain and improve the functions of your limbs.
1. What is an orthotic doctor?
An orthotic doctor is not a medically recognized term or even correct. However, it is commonly used to refer to an orthotist or an orthotic specialist, a healthcare professional trained in orthotics.
Orthotics are special orthopedic devices designed to support, align, or improve the functions of various body parts, especially the upper and lower limbs, and spine.
While orthotic specialists cannot write prescriptions for orthotics, they work closely with physicians and podiatrists, etc., to help them evaluate patients, assess their conditions, and determine the best type of orthotics for patients’ specific needs. They then use their expertise to design, fabricate, and customize these orthotic devices for the best patient treatment and support.
2. What is orthotic therapy?
Orthotic therapy refers to the use of orthotic devices, such as foot braces or orthotic shoes, as part of a treatment plan to support and improve the function of limbs and spine.
Orthotic devices, also known as orthoses, are designed to address various conditions, such as foot and ankle disorders, spinal deformities, limb length discrepancies, sports injuries, or neurological disorders affecting mobility.
Orthotic therapy involves the evaluation, design, fabrication, fitting, and ongoing management of orthotic devices. The therapy also includes education and training for patients on how to wear and maintain their orthotic devices for maximum healing and comfort.
3. Podiatrist vs. orthopedist: Who can prescribe orthoses?
Both podiatrists and orthopedists can prescribe orthotics and prosthetics but if you are looking for specialized expertise for foot-related symptoms, a podiatrist is your best bet.
A podiatrist doctor receives specialized training in foot and ankle care, including orthotic management. Due to this higher level of expertise in foot biomechanics, podiatrists are better than orthopedists at having a deeper understanding of symptoms, diagnoses, and treatment options for foot and ankle concerns.
So if you are looking for a specialized orthotics prescription, go to a podiatrist for the best orthotics and corrective footwear solutions.
4. What are orthotic shoes?
An orthotic is a custom-made removable shoe insert designed to treat foot deformities, accommodate balance and gait issues, and even treat back problems including back pain.
While there are several kinds of premade shoe inserts available that provide relief and comfort, the best orthotic is one that is custom-made for you. Keeping your unique foot shape in mind, your particular symptoms and diagnoses, your type of activities, and your prescribed treatment method, a custom-made orthotic ensures it fits your exact needs.
Generally improving the function of your feet, the right orthoses can treat a wide range of foot and ankle issues such as alignment, sports injuries, balance issues, and foot abnormalities.
5. What is the best orthotic for flat feet?
Flat feet are some of the most common foot alignment issues that we see with our patients. To alleviate knee or ankle pain that your flat feet are causing you, a custom insole is the best solution.
The best orthotics for flat feet are designed according to your unique foot shape and size, which a premade insole just cannot match. Keeping in mind that not all flat feet cases can be remedied, it’s important to go with a solution that has the highest potential for success — such as a custom-made orthotic.
If the damage is not too severe or progressed, you can begin to see a structural correction of your flat feet within 3-18 months of using your personalized orthotic.
6. What is the best type of orthotic for dress shoes?
Wearing dress shoes for long hours can be extremely uncomfortable if you suffer from a foot deformity, alignment, or balance issue.
To choose the best orthotic inserts for dress shoes, look for:
- • Removable and adjustable orthotics: If you’re going for a premade orthotic, look for one that’s adjustable to suit different dress shoes and styles so you don’t have to carry multiple pairs.
- • Slim design and low profile: Dress shoes are usually narrower, so look for a design that’s slim enough to fit comfortably inside without altering the fit or style of the shoe.
- • Arch support: Go for maximum stability and proper alignment. Arch support orthotics distribute weight evenly and alleviate foot fatigue and strain.
- • Cushioning and shock absorption: Dress shoes usually have thinner soles so a cushioned orthotic will reduce the impact on feet and provide more support.
If your ready-to-wear inserts have all these qualities but you’re still feeling pain, book an appointment with an orthotic doctor for the best custom orthotic prescription.
7. What are the best orthotic inserts for plantar fasciitis?
The best orthotic inserts for plantar fasciitis fall into three major categories:
- • Heel Pads
- • Shoe Insoles
- • Night Splints
Heel pads, also called heel cups, provide support and cushioning to the heel. They work by lifting up the heel which alleviates the pressure on the Achilles tendon. As you walk or run, these cups absorb the shock and reduce the impact on your plantar fasciitis.
Shoe insoles are the best orthotic choice if you want support for the entire foot. Designed to fit under foot arches, they take the pressure off of your heels. Shoe insoles come in both full and half lengths.
Night splints give you comfort as you sleep. You can wrap them around your calves to stretch your feet back. The slight stretch on the calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and plantar fasciitis ensures that you wake up with no pain and a more comfortable day all around.
For the best results, always wear orthotic inserts for plantar fasciitis on both feet to prevent body mechanics issues. Since prefabricated orthotics may be harmful to wear on a healthy foot, get custom orthotics designed by talking to your foot doctor.
8. How much do orthotic insoles cost?
Custom orthotic insoles tend to fall on the costlier side and may range anywhere from $200-$800. This is excluding the cost of doctor visits when you have to go in for your evaluation, design, and fitting.
There are premade orthotic insoles available, too, perfect for those who are only looking for some added comfort. Most premade orthotics are available off-the-shelf and do not cost a lot.
But if you are looking to address specific foot concerns like bunions, flat feet, complex foot deformities, alignment and balance issues, diabetes, recurring injuries, or have a higher activity level, only the custom orthotic insoles will help. They are designed with your particular concerns in mind and with your unique foot cast, so not only do they fit perfectly but also help alleviate foot and ankle issues.
9. How to use Dr. Scholl’s orthotic inserts?
When you are using new inserts, whether Dr. Sholl’s or any other brand’s, follow these steps for the best fit and care:
- • Separate your new inserts for the right and left foot.
- • Remove the current inserts from your shoes.
- • Take the new inserts and cut them according to the length of the shoe.
- • You can also use your current inserts — if they are the right fit — to guide the length and shape of the cut.
- • Place the new inserts gel- or foam-side down in the shoes.
- • And you’re done.
It’s important to mention here that all prefabricated inserts must be replaced every 6 months or when they start showing signs of daily wear.
If you are using custom orthotic inserts, talk to your podiatrist or special orthotics doctor about their care management.
10. Is there any difference between orthotics and inserts?
The main difference between the two is specialty.
Orthotics are specialized products for structural or biomechanical concerns of the foot and ankle. They address flat feet, recurring injuries, and complex foot deformities, and are often used by athletes to sustain their high activity levels.
Inserts are more general and used for everyday support by people who spend a lot of hours on their feet. Inserts are not specifically made to address any medical or biomechanical issues.
Foot orthotics also provide better support, fit, and healing because they are prescribed by podiatrists and physicians taking into account your unique symptoms, diagnoses, foot shape and size, activity level, support needed, and many other factors.
Inserts, on the other hand, do not require any prescription and are easily available.
11. Why do orthotic shoes make my feet numb?
Numb feet are one of the most common concerns that people who use prefabricated orthotic shoes often report.
Since no OTC orthosis can ever fully match your unique foot shape, or are made with your lifestyle in mind, they often provide poor support and the initial comfort can prove to be temporary.
If your orthotic shoes have started to make your feet go numb, it’s time to visit a podiatrist near you and get your foot condition evaluated. Ill-fitting foot orthosis can worsen your symptoms and even create issues that were never there.
12. How effective is orthotic treatment in patients with recurrent diabetic foot ulcers?
Diabetic foot ulcers are not only extremely painful and uncomfortable but in the worst cases can also lead to amputations.
To avoid such a thing from happening, strict adherence to personalized orthotic therapy is crucial. According to a study published by NIH, custom orthotic treatment to address recurring diabetic foot ulcers brought down the re-ulceration rate from 79% to 15% and amputation rates from 54% to 6%.
If you or a loved one is diabetic and recurring foot ulcers are becoming a nightmare, seek treatment now. The sooner you start your custom orthotic therapy the more effective results you can get.
13. How should a PT instruct a patient on orthotic care?
After you have been fitted with custom orthotics, your doctor, orthotist, or physical therapist will guide you in 5 areas of orthotic care:
- • Fitting and initial use
- • Comfort and adjustment
- • Foot hygiene and cleanliness
- • Shoe selection and compatibility
- • Gradual adaptation and follow-up
The goal is to help you acclimatize with your new foot contraption and make it as easy for you as possible to include it in your daily routine. Your PT will guide you on how to wear it, clean it, and maintain it.
You are encouraged to communicate to your PT if you feel any discomfort or adjustment issues so they can be addressed immediately.
14. How to care for your orthotic hand for the best therapy benefits?
For compromised mobility of the hand, orthotics are some of the simplest and most effective solutions. Proper care management allows you to optimize their use and gain maximum benefits.
A few ways you can care for your hand orthotic:
- • Make sure the fit is perfect. Initial use can need some adjusting. So be sure to talk to your orthotic doctor or podiatrist to make minor adjustments to the orthoses.
- • Keep an eye on any changes to your skin. If you see any red marks or swelling, immediately talk to your podiatrist.
- • Always wear a cotton sock under the hand orthotic if it is made of a thermoplastic material. It’ll absorb sweat and protect your skin from chaffing and increase comfort.
For care instructions in detail, talk to your doctor or PT.
15. What time does the orthotic care of Advance Foot and Ankle clinic open?
Our Rosedale location opens on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Thursdays.
On Tuesdays, we are open from 12 pm to 7 pm, on Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm, and on Thursdays, 11 am-5 pm.
On Fridays, you can find us providing services at the Limb Preservation and Hyperbaric Center. We are there from 8 am to 4 pm.
For more details about timings and same-day appointments, feel free to call us at 718-341-5313.
Living your life to the fullest becomes a tad bit difficult when you don’t have the full use of your limbs or your back constantly hurts.
Orthoses are specially-made medical devices that improve the biomechanics and structural issues of the limbs and spine.
While there are prefabricated orthotics available that provide some level of comfort and support to your injured or unhealthy hand or foot, only the customized orthotics can provide you the level of personalized healing and care that you need to gain the function of your body parts back.
Through this guide, we have tried to clarify your concerns over orthotics and given you an overview of how custom orthotics can help.
If you have any further questions or need to talk to a qualified foot doctor near you, give us a call and set up an appointment.