At Sanders Podiatry, we believe that as glasses are to eyes, orthotics are to feet. Orthotics are designed to address any biomechanical misalignment in your feet that causes pain or other problems in normal everyday function.
What’s the difference between a custom orthotic and an off-the-shelf orthotic?
A custom orthotic does much more than simply supporting your arches, which is only one part of stabilising the feet for balance and function. Custom orthotics are prescription medical devices made specifically for your feet, to properly balance all parts of the foot – the heel, the arch and the forefoot. They create correct alignment through your feet and up to your ankles, knees, hips and spine.
Developing custom orthotics requires us to take a holistic approach to your overall health. The orthotics which are prescribed will optimise alignment, support and function, properly addressing any medical condition you may have. Custom orthotics will last many years.
An off-the-shelf orthotic is made with arch support and other cushioning features which can be cut down to size and inserted into your shoe. They can be useful for minor pain, or relief from the discomfort that comes from activities such as standing up all day, and in some cases may be enough. They will generally last a few months and then need to be replaced.
Off the shelf orthotics can provide temporary relief but they won’t provide the long term benefits and support needed if your feet have biomechanical problems, or if you have an underlying medical condition that needs attention.
How do orthotics work?
Biomechanically custom-made orthotics minimise the damaging forces that result when the foot’s mechanics is misaligned. Not only does an orthotic support your feet, but it also supports your legs, knees, hips and lower back when walking and standing, thereby providing valuable support to the entire musculoskeletal system. Orthotics improve function, weight distribution, alignment and posture, and the pain associated with misalignment.
They can be inserted into your runners, boots, sports shoes, dress shoes and even your heels, although you may need a couple of different styles of orthotics to fit different shoes. We’ll discuss your lifestyle needs and recommend the right options so that you can wear the shoes you want to every day.
The benefits of custom orthotics include:
- Customised design tailored exactly to the shape and alignment of your foot
- Reduction in pain
- Treatment of medical conditions such as diabetes
- Support your feet properly when you run and walk, so that you feel better overall
Related article: Orthoses – what they do and why you may need them
What conditions are helped by orthotics?
Custom orthotics don’t just prevent foot pain, they also help treat food conditions such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, neuromas, flat feet, corns, calluses, and feet that are prone to foot ulcers from conditions such as diabetes.
Plantar fasciitis – pain under the heel in the tissue that runs from the heel to the toes, forming the arch of the foot. An orthotic can help to support the arch and reduce pain.
Bunions – a painful bony bump that grows from the base of the big toe. Orthotics can slow the progression, reduce the pressure on the big toe, and alleviate pain when you walk.
Flat feet – flat feet have poor alignment and cause an inward rolling motion that does not support the ankle or leg. This causes pain in the feet but can also cause leg and back pain. An orthotic will help to align the foot, ankle and leg and prevent other problems from long-term misalignment of the feet.
Bursitis – the small fluid-filled sacs in the toes and heels of the foot can become inflamed causing discomfort and pain. Supporting the heel and arch of the foot with an orthosis can help to relieve the discomfort.
Neuroma – a neuroma is a benign cyst between the 3rd and 4th toes and causes pain when walking. An orthotic will help support the toes, taking pressure off the neuroma, allowing you to walk or stand with less discomfort.
Corns and calluses – the foot is not aligned properly so your gait (walking style) is putting pressure on specific parts of the foot, causing recurring cons and calluses. An orthotic will help to align the foot and alleviate the pressure, allowing the foot to recover.
Foot injuries – to prevent further injuries from sport or another activity, an orthotic can aid the healing process.
Related article: The 10 most common foot problems we treat in our podiatry clinics
Fitting custom orthotics
We’ll conduct a biomechanical assessment to determine the function of your feet and legs, the movement at the joints and the flexibility/strength of the soft tissues. This will determine whether you actually need an orthotic and the potential benefits. Following is the process of fitting your feet with custom orthotics:
- Biomechanical assessment – our podiatrists will do a biomechanical assessment to evaluate the alignment and function of your feet and legs, the fluidity of movement in the joints and the flexibility and strength of the soft tissues.
- Selection of orthosis –We’ll recommend the best type of orthosis for your feet depending on the condition we are treating and your lifestyle needs (i.e. heels, sporting shoes).
- Custom fitting – we’ll create a custom fitting orthosis to specifically support the unique structure your feet. We’ll recommend shoes to wear and provide practical advice on wearing your orthotics daily.
- Review – after a couple of weeks, we’ll review how your feet are responding to the orthotics, review footwear, and ensure they are supporting your feet to achieve proper alignment.
Call the Sanders Podiatry team to have your feet assessed
Our family friendly podiatrists help both children and adults with custom orthotics. Please call us at one of our clinics below and make an appointment to have your feet assessed. We have podiatry clinics in Linden Park (opposite Burnside Shopping Centre), Stirling and Mount Barker.
Call us to make an appointment with one of our experienced podiatrists.