Should You Consider Orthotics for Your Foot Pain?
By Dave Wilson
Many people with arthritis foot pain benefit from orthotic inserts. Orthotics is the science of constructing or custom designing foot appliances such as arch supports, shoe inserts, shoes, etc., to aid in preventing and correcting deformities that may inhibit normal, comfortable movement in a person. Orthotics also assists in supporting and properly aligning the foot to help improve the overall function of the body’s moveable part.
Although you may think a good athletic shoe (I.E. walking, running) provides you with enough support, this is untrue for someone who suffers or is prone to foot pain. The reason is because while an exceptional shoe can provide your feet with cushioning and motion control, it doesn’t provide adequate arch or heel support, or shock absorption.
Therefore, after you purchase a well-made pair of shoes, you need to take out the insole that came with the shoe, and replace it with an orthotic insole.
What types of foot pain benefit from orthotics? Orthotics are generally recommended for treating those who suffer from the following foot problems causing pain –
– Arch strain and pain
– Crooked toes
– Hammer toes
– Heel pain
– Heel spurs
– Metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of the foot)
– Plantar fasciitis
Is there more than one type of orthotic insole? Yes. Orthotics come in various sizes and can be used for a number of different shoe styles. However, before we take a look at the different orthotics, keep in mind that not all insoles are orthotics. If the word “orthotic” is not on the packaging, the insoles are not made with the same science. Unlike other insoles, orthotics are designed to mold themselves to the foot when worn. The following are the different types of orthotics –
Functional orthotics – This type of orthotic is designed to correct defects of the arch including over-pronation, common in people with flat feet, and supination, common in people with high arches. Both foot problems can cause heel pain (plantar fasciitis) and puts excessive strain on muscles and joints throughout the back, hip and leg. Functional orthotics provides proper correction of these foot problems.
Supportive orthotics – These orthotics are designed to fix problems that occur in the arch, and provide the arch with proper support.
Weight-dispersive or accommodative orthotics -These orthotics are designed to provide padding and help support sesamoid bones (bones embedded in a tendon) metatarsal heads, collapsed tarsal bones, inflamed toes and sores. They help relieve pain and pressure from these areas.
Where can you obtain orthotic inserts? There are two ways a person can obtain orthotic insoles –
1. Ready-made orthotics -There are a variety of ready-made orthotic insoles sold online and in local super centers, drug stores and pharmacies. Most ready-made orthotic insoles provide arch support and a certain level of correction and cushioning to a person’s step. The following is a list of ready-made orthotic product brand names you can look for – Dr. Scholls, Spenco Insoles, and Footlevelers.
2. Custom orthotics – Custom orthotics will provide you better relief than ready-made orthotics because they are designed specifically for your foot and to treat your specific foot issue. The only problem is custom orthotics are hundreds of dollars, making them significantly more expensive than the ready-made variety.
Custom made orthotics are prescribed by health care professionals such as a family practitioner, chiropractor or podiatrist. The actual fitting of orthotic insoles is done at an orthotics lab by a pedorthist. The pedorthist constructs custom orthotics based on the diagnosis of the doctor and by taking a plaster cast of the patient’s foot.
Despite the type of orthotic insoles you decide to obtain for your feet, remember that you should always have your doctor diagnose your foot pain and ask for recommended treatment options.