When you have irregular walking patterns, it may be recommended to you to utilize orthotics. They help make normal daily functions of walking, standing, or running more comfortable and efficient by changing the angles of which your foot strikes minimally.
True orthotics are different than store bought commercial devices like cushioned insoles. Orthotics are custom made and are designed to meet specific needs of the individual. Our orthopedic doctors will often prescribe orthotics as a more conservative treatment for many podiatry problems, or even to help in post-operative care following foot surgery.
There are numerous different types of orthotics, constructed from a variety of materials. Regardless of how they are made, they are all designed to improve the foot function and minimize stress that can cause deformity and pain. When an orthotic is made, a cast is made from an impression of the foot.
Any misalignments in the foot show up within the case. In the orthotic lab, the misalignments are corrected with stabilizing techniques and compensation. When the orthotic is completed, it is placed within the patient’s show in order to help keep the foot in proper alignment. Sometimes padding is used to help cushion the foot.
There are three categories when it comes to foot orthotics; those designed to change foot function, those that act as a protective barrier against nature, and those that do both.
Orthotics that are designed to control the function of the foot are rigid. They are constructed from a firm material like plastic or carbon fiber and are mostly used in dress or walking shoes. A plaster or paris mold is most commonly used to construct them for the individual foot.
The finished product is large enough to extend from the sole or ball of the foot to the toes. Closed shoes with a heel height lower than two inches are ideal for this orthotic. Because of the material used, alteration in show size is not often required.
When a rigid orthotic is prescribed, the goal is to control the motion in the two main foot joints directly below the ankle joint. These medical devices do not change shape, are hard to break, and last a long time. When you experience pain in your lower back, thighs, or legs, it could be a result of your foot functioning abnormally, or even a subtle difference in the length of your legs. This is where this rigid orthotics are helpful.
When you are prescribed a soft orthotic, the primary goal is to increase balance, reduce pressure on any sore spots in your foot, and absorb shock. They are typically constructed from compressible materials and can be molded while you are walking, or sometimes fashioned from a plaster of your foot.
They are worn against the sole of your foot and tend to extend past the ball of your foot to your toes. The major advantage to these is they adjust to any changes to weight-bearing forces. Unfortunately, because they are soft, they must be replaced more often.
Arthritic or deformed feet lacking in protective fatty tissue are most benefited by this type of orthotic. Diabetics also tend to benefit from the soft orthotic. Because it is typically bulkier, more room may be required in the shoes worn with them, and sometimes prescription footwear is required.