How Do Orthotics Work and Can they Improve Your Life?
Some studies estimate that upwards of 77% of Americans will suffer from foot pain at some point in their lives. Of those who live with chronic foot pain, approximately 83% say this pain affects their activities of daily living. A common question amongst this population is: ‘How do orthotics work and could they help my pain?’
Though not always to solution, for many Orthotics can help alleviate this chronic foot and ankle pain.
So How Do Orthotics Work?
Orthotics are shoe inserts that can help correct an irregular or abnormal walking pattern. They are recommended when muscles, ligaments, joints, tendons, or bones are not functioning correctly and causing pain. Orthotics work by slightly changing the angle at which the foot contacts the walking surface. In many circumstances, they can be an effective approach to alleviating foot pain.
How are custom orthotics made?
True orthotics are much more than arch supports. There are three different types of orthotics; rigid, soft, and semi-rigid.
- Rigid orthotics are manufactured from a firm material such as carbon fiber or plastic. These orthotics are made from a mold of your own foot. They generally do not wear out or break.
- Soft orthotics are made from compressible materials and are molded to your foot as you wear them. These orthotics help take pressure off sore areas of your foot, absorb shock as you walk or run, and increase balance.
- Semi-rigid orthotics consist of layers of flexible materials reinforced with more rigid materials. These orthotics provide balance as well as allow the foot to perform more effectively.
Benefits of Using Orthotics
If you are wondering, “Do orthotics work?” the answer is, “Yes!” There are many benefits to wearing orthotics including:
- Alleviating foot, low back, ankle, and leg pain
- Improving balance
- Provide adequate arch support
- Correcting alignments of the foot and leg
- Distributing pressure and absorbing shock
- Allowing you to participate in activities of daily living
Orthotics let your feet function properly, and this affects many other areas of your body.
Types of Orthotics:
There are many types of orthotic insoles available in today’s market; each designed with a specific use in mind.
- Custom-Made Orthotic Insoles – designed and manufactured specifically for an individual and their personal biomechanical needs. After proper evaluation, our specialists can help build these for you here in Colorado Springs, in our in-house Audubon Orthotic and Prosthetic Services shop.
- Pre-Fabricated Orthotic Insoles – these insoles come ready-made and are available in standard sizes. They offer various levels of arch support and cushioning however, are not tailored to an individuals specific foot shape or condition.
- Arch Support Insoles – designed to provide additional support to the arches of the feet, these orthotic insoles help distribute weight more evenly and can reduce excessive pronation (inward rolling of the foot) or supination (outward rolling of the foot) and alleviate stress on the arches.
- Cushioning Insoles – primarily designed to focus on providing extra cushioning and shock absorption to the feet. These can be beneficial for those who engage in high impact activities and are a great starting orthotic for plantar fasciitis.
- Heel Cups or Inserts – these insoles specifically target heel pain conditions such as plantar fasciitis, or heel spurs. They feature a contoured shape and gel padding that provides cushioning and support to the heel area.
- Diabetic Insoles – designed to accommodate the specific needs of individuals with diabetes, they provide extra cushioning, pressure distribution and may protect against potential injuries.
- Sport-Specific Insoles – these insoles are tailed to athletes involved in specific sporting activities. They are designed specifically for the individual to provide enhanced shock absorption, stability, and improved biomechanical alignment within their athletic shoes to optimize performance and help prevent any potential sports-related injuries. Our Audubon Orthotic and Prosthetic Services team can help if you’re in need of Sport-Specific Orthotic Insoles.
- Heat Moldable Insoles – these are made from materials that can be heated and molded to an individual’s foot for a more customized fit and may provide a balance of arch support, cushioning and added comfort.
- Gel or Foam Insoles – typically made from a gel or foam that aids in extra cushioning and shock absorption. They are typically used to help provide general comfort, and relieve from mild pressure points or foot pain.
It is important to note, many of these insoles may be a great starting point to relieve any foot and ankle pain, but if pain persists or becomes worse, a consultation with a foot and ankle specialist may be warranted where they can help design an orthotic insole specific to your individual needs.
Where can I get orthotics?
Many orthotics can be purchased over-the-counter at many sporting good stores or through a company specializing in orthotics for various activities. If you are experiencing a mild foot problem and are of average height and weight, these may be a great option for you. Custom orthotics designed specifically for your individual biomechanical needs, can be designed and purchased through a specialist. It may be beneficial to consult your insurance to see if your orthotic insoles are covered under your plan benefits as well.
If your pain or alignment problem does not improve, you may need to see a foot and ankle specialist for further assessment. Brad Dresher, MD or G. Alex Simpson, DO are two of Colorado Springs’ Top Orthopedic Doctors, specializing all conditions and injuries of the foot and ankle and can certainly help you localize where your pain may be coming from.
At Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group, our team or specialists and orthotic professionals go above and beyond for every patient to help find the right orthotic for your individual needs.
To learn more about our Foot and Ankle Doctors, visit the CSOG Foot and Ankle Center. To learn more about our highly-trained and experienced orthotists, visit Audubon Orthotic and Prosthetic Services today.