What are Orthotics and What Do They Do?

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Orthotics are devices inserted into shoes to restore natural foot function. They are also referred to as shoe inserts, orthotic insoles or Orthoses. They may be used to temporarily cushion painful foot conditions, and to prevent or treat different bio-mechanical foot problems. For example, you can insert them into your shoes to correct an abnormal walking pattern. They are designed to change the angle at which your foot contacts the ground so that your body can be in alignment.

They are available as either pre-made, or custom-made devices.

Pre-made orthotics are available over the counter. They are soft, semi-flexible and are made according to men’s and women’s foot sizes. They are sometimes used by athletes such as runners because they are more resilient than the manufacturer-provided insoles, and less likely to cause blisters. They are also popular among people who need to add cushioning or arch support to their shoes.

Custom made orthotics are made for individual patients as prescribed by podiatrists. They are made from rigid materials and are not available over the counter. These personalized orthotics are produced from casts or scans of the feet. They are specific to the measurements of your foot, legs, limb assessment and the medical condition to be corrected.

Custom orthotics can last as several years. However, you need to change them if you outgrow them or if you have any problem of the feet that renders them obsolete, such as trauma or arthritis.

Uses of Orthotics

Orthotics can help an individual solve a lot of problems affecting the feet, ankles and knees. They are frequently used to treat issues including arch and heel pain, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, shin splints, diabetic foot problems, heel pain, corns, calluses, bunions, hammertoes, heel spurs and other common conditions. They also help to ease knee pain such as chondromalacia patellae, iliotibial (IT) band syndrome and runner’s knee.

They are recommended for those who stand for long periods of time or walk long distances. They are also good for those who overpronate.

What Do Orthotics Do?

Orthotics control and prevent abnormal motion across the joints of the foot. They realign the feet and ankles so that they can function effectively during weight-bearing and propulsion. They take pressure off sore spots such as the heels, ball of the foot, corns between toes and bunions. They also help to absorb shock to some extent. They do not change the structure of the foot, but only correct abnormal function.

It takes time to adjust to a new orthotic device, so you need to gradually get used to wearing them. This is because the support they offer may feel uncomfortable at first. You can start by wearing them for an hour to two a day, and then gradually increasing time as directed. You should be able to adapt within a 1-2 weeks.

Do not use orthotics for sports activities unless they are designed for such purposes. You should feel comfortable in them and use them whenever you do activities that are painful, such as walking or running. You need a well-fitted shoe to increase the support and also speed your recovery.

When you are relieved of your pain, you can go barefoot for some period during the day. This will help to strengthen your foot and leg muscles.

Please note that orthotics do not solve all foot problems, and they do not cure them. They only help to relieve symptoms and provide a level of support that may help an individual prevent further damage. To find out if orthotic devices are right for you, call (713) 541-3199 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Maislos at Houston Foot and Ankle Care. We can point you to the right type of orthoses, including custom orthotic inserts, or even orthopedic shoes. Let us help you get you back on your feet!


Houston Foot and Ankle