Orthotics are inserts for shoes designed to relieve foot and ankle pain by normalizing mechanics, decreasing weight bearing stress, and providing cushioning for the feet. There are many types of orthotics made of many different materials. Some orthotics are custom made, some are built from pre made components, and some are available over-the-counter (mass made).
Dr. Davis – The Foot & Ankle MD prescribes custom orthotics only when less expensive options have not helped or are not appropriate. If custom orthotics are necessary, Dr. Davis takes an impression of both of your feet and a local fabricator uses the latest digital technology to convert the impressions to a model of your feet. Then the orthotics are handcrafted using the most advanced materials customized to the specific needs of your feet.
Common reasons orthotics are prescribed:
- Flat Feet
- High Arched Feet
- Foot Deformities
- Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain).
How to use your orthotics
Proper shoes are a must! Orthotics are bulky, especially if your feet require a significant amount of correction. Generally, you will need to buy shoes that are wider and/or longer by ½ to 1 full size. After you receive your new orthotics, take them with you to buy a new pair of running shoes that fit comfortably.
If you have full length orthotics, remove the sock liner and then insert the orthotics.
Three-quarter length orthotics should be placed into the shoe over the insole that comes with the shoe. If the insole that comes with the shoe has a built-in arch support, you may need to trim it away after you purchase the shoes.
Custom orthotics generally need “fine tuning” or modifications after you get them. Even though your orthotics are hand made by a skilled professional from a mold of your foot, adjustment of the orthotics may be required to optimize comfort and effectiveness.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will it take for me to feel the benefit of orthotics?
When treating some disorders, at least partial relief is immediate; in other cases, it takes several weeks for the problem to resolve enough to feel relief.
Do I need to have special shoes?
It is important to have shoes that are supportive and large enough. Your shoes need to have enough room for the orthotics and for your foot to be comfortable. It is best to start with a running shoe that is built to “stabilize” or control motion.
Do I have to wear the orthotics all the time?
Yes… and No! In some cases, gradually increasing wearing time of the orthotics over a 2-3-week period is necessary. After that, while your foot is sore because of the condition being treated, you need to wear your orthotics and supportive shoes full time. Don’t go barefoot, especially on hard surfaces. After your foot feels better, you may wear shoes without the orthotics for special events. Eventually you will discover your tolerance for going without the orthotics.
What if I have an important dressy occasion, do I have to wear the bulky shoes and orthotics?
No, but your foot will likely be sore during and for a day or two after the event, especially if the problem being treated is still active.
Will I have to use orthotics for the rest of my life?
It depends on why you need the orthotics. Some conditions resolve and orthotics only need to be used for certain athletic activities or at certain times to prevent the problem from recurring. Other problems are permanent and, to keep your feet comfortable, you need to wear the orthotics forever.
When do I need to replace the orthotics?
Adults need to replace orthotics when they become visibly worn out, cracked, or when the foot changes in shape. Children need new orthotics when their feet grow longer by 1½-2 shoe sizes.
Does insurance pay for orthotics?
Some insurance plans pay for orthotics and some don’t. You should call your insurance to check your benefits. If your insurance doesn’t pay for custom orthotics, you may be able to use your Health Savings Account (HSA), Medical IRA, or Flexible Spending Account to pay for custom orthotics.