Orthotics protect feet from wear and tear that occurs with over use or constant use in an incorrect position. Orthotics can be used instead of foot surgery or as a post surgery device to prevent reoccurrence of problems. There are two reasons for wearing orthotics:
- To control and correct foot movements during walking.
- To palliate and cushion the foot during walking.
How Do Orthotics Work?
An orthotic device works by controlling the way the foot works. At heel strike, the heel is controlled and placed in a position that will cause your foot to absorb force correctly. During midstance the orthotic aligns the ankle and foot to maintain the arch of your foot, preventing flattening from occurring and distributing pressures evenly as the foot moves into toe off.
By controlling foot movements, the strain on muscles, ligaments, bones, and joints is decreased. This lessens and eliminates pain in the foot and decreases transferred pain related in the knees, hip and back.
When Do I Need An Orthotic?
Orthotics are necessary when: pain is caused by improper foot movements, if there is increased stress demands on the foot, or if foot deformities are present. If not corrected properly bunions, heel pain, flat feet, arthritis, calluses and unusual walking patterns can develop.
Orthotics can help with:
Heel pain, arch pain, calluses, corns, flat feet, high arches, toe problems/ cramps, knee, hip and lower back pain.
What Is Involved In Getting Orthotics?
If you think orthotics are necessary for your condition either as prevention or to cure a discomfort, you should see a Chiropodist for a thorough foot assessment. A Chiropodist will take a medical history and perform a foot examination while you sit, stand and walk. A diagnosis will then be made. If orthotics are required, the best type will be prescribed using the appropriate corrections. There are different types of orthotics, ranging from rigid to soft. The rigid devices have the most corrective control and the soft devices provide palliative cushion to protect from weight-bearing stress during walking.
An exact mold of the bottom of your foot will then be taken using a plaster cast in the corrected position of the foot (subtalar neutral position). The cast is then sent to an orthotic lab to manufacture the orthotic devices according to the Chiropodist’s prescription and specifications detailing the correction required. The orthotics will then be fitted into the patient’s shoes. Minor adjustment can be done in office in our mini lab. The patient will then be instructed on a break-in period and what to expect as the foot adjusts.
What Can I Expect From My New Orthotics?
It takes a small adjustment period for the foot to adapt to the correction the orthotics are providing. They can be uncomfortable for the first two weeks. Once they are comfortable with everyday use, they can be used for sports activities. Orthotic management does not end at the fitting. Footwear advice is given and review appointments are encouraged. The original complaint will be assessed at one month, six months, and a year. Additional therapies may also be recommended. Symptoms take time to develop and therefore take time to heal. The foot has to be retrained to work correctly. Children need to be monitored on a regular basis for changes in walking patterns and outgrowth of the orthotic devices.