How Do Orthotics Work? – Nurse’s Guide
By Helen Hecker
If you’re having foot pain or foot problems of any kind, you may have been wondering whether orthotics would help cure you. Orthotics have helped many people with various kinds of foot disorders and given them pain relief.
Orthotics modify the function of the foot. Not only adults are fit with orthotics but many children as well. Basically, orthotics are devices that support biomechanical foot disorders. They can be purchased over-the-counter or be custom-made to fit the particular foot problem. The podiatrist will look at the body mechanics and determine the proper fit based on using a variety of painless techniques.
They’re often used for people with abnormal shoe wear, bunions, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, hip pain, back pain, flat feet, ankle sprains, gait problems, shin splints and other types of shin and foot pain.
Generally, if you have foot pain there is something that is not correct. You may have other signs and symptoms. You may have hip, back or knee pain and not connect it to your feet.
It’s easy to buy over-the-counter orthotics but these may not always correct your foot problems. The best orthotics are custom-made and require a visit to your foot doctor – called a podiatrist. An impression of the foot is taken with either a plaster cast or the newer type of wax cast. Electrodynography may be used where sensors are placed on the foot and a microprocessor is attached to it. Then data is fed to a computer giving it biomechanical information about you. This is sometimes called an EKG of the foot.
Special labs make custom orthotics from the information it’s given. Orthotics are made of leather, polypropylene, fiberglass, graphite and other materials. They weigh just a few ounces. Most orthotics are made of the plastic polymer materials.
Orthotics can help prevent foot pronation, which flatten the arch and for shock absorption, which is perfect for walkers or runner. Many runners wear orthotics. A runner needs running shoes with heel counters that are deep and strong enough to hold them. Common well-known orthotics includes WalkFit and Spenco.
If you’re having foot problems or foot pain you may want to figure out if orthotics are right for you, either over-the-counter or custom made. You can try the over-the-counter first and see how they work for you. If you have serious foot problems you may need to see a podiatrist and discuss custom-made orthotics. Many people wear them and swear by them.