Custom Orthotics: Your top questions answered.
Orthotics are a custom made shoe insert. We prescribe Orthotics as a way to help alleviate the symptoms of a wide variety of injuries. Below we have included some of the top asked questions about Custom Orthotics.
How Do Orthotics Work?
Custom Orthotics are a shoe insert that are casted to an individual’s foot. At Connor Chiropractic we use the foam casting method.
Firstly we perform a biomechanical exam of each patient which assesses the lower limb. We then take this information, in combination with the patients work and recreational activities, to determine what our goals are with the insert. Once we have determined what we need the orthotic to do it guides our decisions on what to include in the orthotic.
We create a custom cast of each patients feet, which we then send to the Orthotic Lab. We include all of our recommendations so the lab has specific instructions for developing each Custom Orthotic. The lab then uses the casting to create a hard shell orthotic insert with a softer top cover and include any additions requested to the orthotic. Once we receive them back at the office, patients can then insert them into their shoe of choice.
The role of each orthotic device is extremely dependent on the patient’s main complaint and what the insert was designed to do. Some of the most common benefits patients use inserts for are to:
- Decrease pronation or flattening of the foot
- Decrease pressure on a specific area of the foot (this can be the heel, mid-foot or even a specific toe)
- Increase the padding and force absorption to help with heel or foot pain
- Increase stability and decrease tension up the leg
- Decrease Valgus or dropping in of the knees
What Injuries Can Orthotics Help?
Orthotics can be used for a large number of injuries. The majority of the time we utilize them for injuries or symptoms involving the foot. In addition to foot pain, patients use orthotics to address knee and low back concerns as well.
Some specific injuries that may benefit from Custom Orthotic Inserts include:
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Patellar Tendinosis
- Dropped Metatarsal Heads
- Morton’s Neuroma
- Fat Pad Irritation
- IT Band Syndrome
- Chondromalacia Patella
- Heel Pain and tired feet from prolonged standing
- Mechanical low back pain
- Achilles Tendinosis
How Long Will I Have To Wear Them?
The answer is, it depends. Because orthotics can be used for such a wide variety of injuries and complaints it’s hard to say whether or not they will become a long term strategy to manage your symptoms. For example, for more acute injuries orthotics are used to quickly address the symptoms and decrease the aggravating factors. Once the orthotic helps decrease the symptoms it then becomes a task of addressing the cause of the symptoms before the orthotic use can be decreased.
On the other hand if there is a significant biomechanical or anatomical condition you may require prolonged use of orthotics.
What If I Want To Wear Flats or Flip Flops?
A typical orthotic insert can only be used in a shoe with a back that is deep enough to accept the insert. However, there are other options such as building the orthotic directly into a structured sandal such as a Birkenstock.
Many patients wish to transition to wearing flats or flip flops more often. In order to do this you must increase your foots capacity to handle the decrease in arch support. Most importantly is focusing on increasing your foot’s strength and endurance. In addition to incorporating specific rehab exercises that can help strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the foot, you can focus on spending time barefoot on varied surfaces. For instance you can walk on grass, sand and even medium sized rocks to strengthen the small muscles in your feet.
Some individuals may continue to experience pain or symptoms if they spend a prolonged period of time walking without orthotics. On the other hand most individuals will be able to increase their foots capacity. You then become more resilient and have greater ability to choose a variety of shoe types.
If you are suffering from foot, knee or low back pain and think you may benefit from orthotics we would love to help. Our Chiropractors can perform an assessment to determine if you may benefit from orthotics and how we can help you achieve the best results possible. Contact us today for more information.