Custom molded orthotics are individually designed, medically "corrective" shoe inserts. They are designed to significantly alter foot function in an effort to correct chronic and/or pathologic foot abnormalities. A custom orthotic is designed specifically for an individual patient and is used to support and/or cushion the foot to improve normal function and biomechanics. Medically corrective foot orthotics are made with a prescription from a licensed medical doctor and are often covered by insurance.
Excessive pronation or supination at the foot causes many problems and pain in the feet, knees, hips, and back. Orthotics can be used to correct foot alignment resulting in improved walking mechanics and decreased pain.
Orthotic devices are often very effective in relieving many common complaints including:
- Achilles Tendonitis
- Aligning and Supporting the Foot or Ankle
- Ankle Sprains
- Haliux Rigid/Toe Pain
- Heel Spurs
- Hyper Pronation
- IT Band Pain
- Knee Pain
- Leg Length Discrepancy
- Low Back Pain
- Pes Planes/Flat Feet
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Rigid/Supinated Foot
- Shin Pain
For example, a wedge inserted into the inner (medial) side of the sole of a shoe can be used to help support a Pes Planus/flat foot, thus reducing the risk of tendinitis. A heel flare can be used to increase support and help prevent ankle sprains. Heel cushions can help absorb impact and relieve stress on the heel and ankle when you walk or run. The type of orthotic recommended will depend on your symptoms, the underlying cause for those symptoms, our comprehensive evaluation, the type of activity you do, and the shape of your feet.
Although custom orthotics are considerably more expensive than off-the-shelf devices, they last much longer and provide better corrective support. In some cases, an over-the-counter device can be just as effective when combined with a stretching and exercise program. A comprehensive evaluation, gait analysis, and computerized foot analysis are used to develop your orthotics.
The following are the main types of custom shoe inserts:
Rigid orthotics- Made of firm materials like plastics, fiberglass, and carbon fiber; these primarily address motion in the two major foot joints below the ankle. If a foot imbalance is the cause of pain in your legs, thighs, or lower back, rigid orthotics which are usually designed for use in walking or dress shoes, are recommended.
Semi-rigid orthotics- These act as a balance aid during walking or athletic activities. They are made from foam with a thin, plastic shell laminated to it. These devices provide accommodative support while allowing the foot to be the mobile adapter.
Soft orthotics- Designed to act as shock absorbers and also to increase balance and reduce pressure in sore spots, these inserts are made of compressible foam. They have proven effective for arthritic feet and are widely used to care for diabetic foot conditions. They tend to be bulkier than other inserts and may require extra room in shoes or prescription footwear.