We live in a modern world of concrete, linoleum, and other hard and inflexible surfaces underfoot almost constantly. In that environment, even tiny flaws in the structure of your feet or irregularities in your gait pattern can lead to pain, injury, and even deformities like bunions, hammertoes, or neuromas over time.
Custom orthotics can be beneficial to many types of people, and are one of the best answers we have to address this modern problem. These devices fit inside your shoes and provide extra support, cushioning, and even motion control. Orthotics can relieve pressure and fatigue in your feet, prevent injuries, and help you to live an active, pain-free life.
How Are Custom Orthotics Made?
Unlike shoe inserts that can be purchased off the rack at a local drug store or pharmacy, which are prefabricated to fit a number of generic foot types, custom orthotics are personalized to exacting standards under the supervision of professionals. The type of orthotic is selected after a thorough examination from a podiatrist, and the inserts themselves are built using a custom mold or 3D scan of your feet as a template. They will fit the contours of your feet exactly. This makes them much more effective than ordinary insoles, and they can do much more, including correct abnormal motion.
What Types of Custom Orthotics Are Available, and How Can They Help Me?
Custom orthotics can be made in a wide variety of styles and from many different materials. Generally speaking, they fall into one of two categories: accommodative or functional. (Some types can fit into both categories.)
Accommodative orthotics, true to their name, “accommodate” a biomechanical flaw, injury, or deformity by providing just the right amount of additional support and cushioning you need to relieve pressure on sensitive areas. They’re usually made from softer materials (like silicone, foam, or cork,) and can help with a variety of painful foot conditions, such as heel pain, arch pain, or diabetic ulcers.
Functional orthotics, by contrast, correct abnormal motion, restoring proper biomechanics to your walking and running gait. They tend to be made from more rigid or semi-rigid materials like plastic or graphite, and are great for overpronation, certain sports injuries, and other conditions.
Are Custom Orthotics Really Worth It?
Many pharmacies and specialty stores are filled with prefabricated insoles, each one promising significant pain relief and advertising a number of advanced-sounding materials and features. So it’s fair to wonder if custom orthotics are really worth the extra cost.
In most cases, the answer is yes, they are worth it. Although mass-produced insoles may provide some relief, they can’t compete with a tool that’s made to fit you perfectly, and they can’t be prescribed to treat specific medical conditions like custom orthotics can.
In addition to being noticeably more effective in most cases, custom orthotics also last much longer than cheap insoles—a good pair that’s properly cared for will last years. In the long run, the price difference isn’t as wide as it might seem; in fact, you might even come out ahead by opting for the higher quality device.
All that said, if your foot pain isn’t severe, and you don’t need the motion control of a functional orthotic, a prefabricated insole might be “good enough” in the short term. Our goal as your podiatric team is to provide you with the best treatment for your current needs and goals, so we’ll take these factors into consideration when determining whether a custom orthotic is worth your investment.
If your feet are hurting, call the experts at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona in Gilbert and Chandler to see how our team of professionals can help. Reach us by phone at (480) 963-9000, or fill out our contact form online and our office team will follow up with you shortly.