What Are Custom Orthotics?
Custom orthotics are shoe inserts that are made specifically for a person’s feet. These orthotics are specifically fitted for the person’s shoe size, foot shape, and foot or structural problem.
Who Needs Them?
These shoe inserts are prescribed for a variety of conditions. These custom shoe inserts can help to correct flat feet, correct foot pain, correct spurs, help alleviate discomfort caused by plantar fasciitis, and help stabilize the spine.
Custom Orthotics Versus Off-The Shelf Orthotics
Some patients attempt to save money by purchasing custom orthotic. These shoe inserts vary from cork and silicone sole inserts to rubber or silicone heel cups. These off-the-shelf orthotics are convenient because they can be purchased in shoe stores and department stores, and they do not require that the patient waits for a laboratory to custom-make the inserts for them.
However, it is not advisable to purchase an orthotic device without the advice of a physician or chiropractor. Although these off-the-shelf options become more customized each year, they are still too generic to help the average person with a foot or spine problem. These devices are designed for an average foot with a specific shoe size. However, many people have asymmetrical feet or need a custom-fitted orthotic device to experience real relief.
In addition, an ill-fitted orthotic device can cause more problems that it can alleviate. It can provide the wrong kind of support, or support in the wrong area of the foot. This can make health problems worse, including exacerbating problems with the spine and feet.
Getting Fitted for Custom Inserts
A physician or chiropractor can fit you for custom inserts. They take foot measurements and images which are then sent to an orthotics lab that will custom create the shoe inserts for your foot size and your health condition. After the measurements are sent to the laboratory, you may need to wait several days to a few weeks to receive your custom orthotic device. In the meantime, your physician or chiropractor may advise you to purchase a particular variety of off-the-shelf orthotic device to wear until your custom device arrives from the laboratory.
Types of Orthotic Devices
Custom shoe inserts come in a wide array of shapes, construction, and material types. This is because the orthotic device is specifically designed for your health condition and the size and shape of your individual feet.
These devices can be designed to be weight-bearing, semi-weight-bearing, or even non-weight-bearing, depending on your needs. The inserts can also just consist of a heel cup, an arch support, or a full shoe insert. The materials these orthotic devices are made from include leather, viscoelastic materials, cork, carbon fiber, polypropylene, silicone, or plastics.
How Do I Know if I Need a Custom Device?
Your physician or chiropractor can determine if you need an orthotic device. However, if you are experiencing significant foot, leg, or back pain that is not due to a known condition, you may need a custom shoe insert. Visit a physician or chiropractor to have the pain evaluated.