Orthotics are custom shoe insoles or heel inserts that a doctor prescribes for you.
They are prescribed to treat foot, leg, or back problems. Continue reading to learn about the conditions that orthotics can treat and their effectiveness.
How to Determine Whether You Need Orthotics
Orthotics may be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan to address various symptoms, most commonly pain and discomfort in the feet and legs. Some of the objectives that a doctor may have for orthotic treatment are as follows:
- repairing foot deformities
- assisting the foot or ankle in performing better
- providing ankle support
- lowering the chances of further injury
Orthotics are not just a heel pad or shoe insert available at most sporting goods stores. Instead, they are highly personalised shoes or heel inserts made specifically for your feet. An orthotic will only be recommended if other treatments, such as at-home exercises, have not proven effective.
A podiatrist’s approach to problem diagnosis
If you have severe foot and heel pain, you should consult a podiatrist, a doctor who specialises in foot conditions. They will first inquire about your symptoms. For example, when did you first notice the symptoms, what makes them worse, and what makes them better?
Your podiatrist will then examine your feet physically. They’ll look for deformities and particularly painful areas.
The doctor will probably ask you to walk and do other activities to see how your feet and ankles are positioned during specific exercises. Some doctors may even have exceptional imaging or walking pads, which will show how and where your feet strike the ground, which can aid in determining the precise location and kind of issues in the structure and function of your feet.
They may also recommend traditional foot imaging, such as an X-ray, bone scan, or MRI. This can assist them in determining areas of arthritis, damage, or injury.
When making treatment recommendations, a doctor will consider all of these diagnostic methods, including the possibility of prescribing orthotics.
What are the conditions that orthotics are used to treat?
Doctors may prescribe orthotics to treat a variety of medical conditions. Here are some examples:
- Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can cause foot discomfort and poor foot positioning, which orthotics can help to correct.
- Poor foot positioning, such as inward rolling arches or a lack of cushioning, can cause pain that orthotics can alleviate.
- Bunions. Bunions are painful bumps at the base of the big toe that can cause foot deformities. Wide-toe box orthotics can help relieve pressure on the big toe.
- Bursitis. Bursitis pain and discomfort can be caused by inflammation of fluid-filled sacs in the heels and toes. Bursitis can be relieved by wearing orthotics with heel and arch support.
- People with diabetes can sometimes lose sensation in their feet, a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. When this happens, orthotics can help reduce the stress and pressure that can cause foot ulcers.
- Flat feet. Flat feet can cause pain in the feet, ankles, and back. Orthotics can provide foot support and promote proper foot positioning.
- Toes hammered Hammer’s toes are a common side effect of big toe bunions. They cause pain in the second toe and deformities on the ball of the foot. Orthotics can help to support your feet and reduce the likelihood of hammer toes worsening.
- Spurs on the heels. Heel spurs are abnormal bone growths on the heel’s back or bottom. Orthotics can help to support the foot while also reducing inflammation.
- Tall arches. Highly high arches can strain the muscles in the feet, resulting in various conditions such as shin splints, knee pain, and plantar fasciitis. In addition, orthotics can help prevent a person’s feet from rolling inward or outward excessively.
- Injuries. People with trauma to their feet and ankles may benefit from orthotics during the healing process.
- Plantar fasciitis causes heel pain. Doctors sometimes recommend orthotics to support your foot.
Doctors can also prescribe custom orthotics for people with foot or positional leg issues. This includes people who have underdeveloped leg and foot muscles.