Benefits of Custom Orthotics
We all need support now and then. When it comes to our feet, support, balance, and cushioning are very important elements that can affect our overall comfort and health. We often have special needs in the shape of the foot or the way it functions, custom orthotics can be inserted into footwear to provide correction, relieve pain, and treat certain foot or ankle conditions.
Custom Orthotics vs. Over-the-Counter Inserts
“Custom” is the key word in custom orthotics. These devices are made exactly to the shape of your foot and your needs, whereas over-the-counter inserts take a more “one-size-fits-all” approach to provide generalized, yet often not-as-effective, relief.
Think of the differences between the two types of inserts in terms of ways to provide emotional support. Over-the-counter inserts are like a greeting card, which can help someone feel somewhat better, but its effect tends to be relatively cookie-cut and shallow. On the other hand, custom orthotics, are like a handwritten letter from a friend. They know exactly what their friend is going through and can address those issues directly, having a greater impact.
What can Custom Foot Orthotics do?
Varying types of custom devices exist, but their purposes can be divided into two general categories:
- Functional orthotics can be used to control abnormal motion. This can be effective in correcting one’s biomechanics and treating discomfort in the feet, ankles, legs, thighs, and lower back.
- Accommodative orthotics are designed to provide additional cushioning and support to target areas of the foot. These are often used to treat diabetic foot ulcers, calluses, and other delicate or painful conditions.
The material an orthotic is made of can further define its function. Devices made of rigid materials tend to fall more into the functional category and often focus on controlling the two major joints of the foot found beneath the ankle. Soft materials provide added padding and can be worn on the sole of the foot, further absorbing shock and taking the pressure off sensitive areas. Semi-rigid devices, which often consist of a mix of soft and rigid materials, are often used to treat flat feet, in-toeing, or out-toeing in children as well as add stability and support during sports or physical activities.
Are they Right for Me?
Custom orthotics can be very beneficial in treating bunions or hammertoes, relieving discomfort while also helping to slow or prevent the progression of the deformity. A need for surgery might even be prevented this way. Additional conditions such as plantar fasciitis, neuromas, and Achilles tendonitis can also see great improvement through the use of custom devices.
The best way to know for sure whether an orthotic device can help your specific situation is to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gregg Neibauer here at Alpine Foot & Ankle Clinic. Dr. Neibauer can conduct a biomechanical exam of your feet and legs, taking measurements of your ankles, knees, feet, and hips. X-rays might also be taken to examine your bone structure. After the exam, Dr. Neibauer will discuss whether orthotics might help your needs. If so, a prescription will be made especially for you.
Call Alpine Foot & Ankle Clinic for all your foot and ankle needs. From custom orthotics to a wide range of other treatments, we will find the best ways to take care of you. Call our Missoula, MT office at (406) 721-4007 to schedule an appointment.