Form follows function, and that’s no less true for your feet than for anything you’d find at IKEA.
We’d argue that your feet function much more intricately than most pieces of furniture as well, containing multiple bones, muscles, and joints. Simple walking means engaging some pretty complex organic machinery!
Unfortunately, having many moving parts means imbalances and abnormalities can cause problems much more easily. One form of treatment we consider in such situations is custom orthotics, a means of providing specific support and cushioning on a patient-by-patient basis.
What Are Custom Orthotics?
Custom orthotics are devices created to align the foot and ankle into a certain position. The determined position is often to restore a more normal or efficient function of the foot.
The “custom” part of custom orthotics is literal. Each pair of custom orthotics is designed specifically to meet the needs of an individual patient, meaning no two pairs are exactly alike. We prescribe orthotics much like an optometrist would prescribe lenses for a patient—and the results of someone else trying on those lenses is about the same as someone trying on another person’s orthotics!
We only prescribe custom orthotics after a thorough examination of each patient’s problems, and learning more about how their foot and ankle symptoms affect their daily lives.
If we feel custom orthotics can provide significant relief, we make a detailed computer model of your feet using a digital scanner. (All you have to do is stand still.) We then use this intricate model to prescribe specific amounts of cushioning and support as you need it. This prescription is then sent to a specialized lab to be completed exactly to specifications.
The inserts we most often prescribe run ¾ the length beneath the foot, but some can extend up to the base of the toes (sulcus length) or run the entire length beneath the foot.
The materials that orthotics are made of are dependent upon these needs. “Accommodative” orthotics are made from softer materials, and are aimed toward providing more cushioning support. “Functional” orthotics are made from more rigid materials and are designed more to control movement. It is possible for orthotics to have a mix of materials in different areas depending on the situation, though.
What Kinds of Conditions Might Custom Orthotics Be Recommended For?
Custom orthotics are not the only form of treatment, but they are often considered for cases where an abnormality or deformity of some sort is a factor.
When an abnormality causes an imbalance in foot structure, it can lead to an improper distribution of weight across the foot. This can create excess strain in certain areas, leading to inflammation and pain.
Some examples of conditions that might benefit from custom orthotics include:
- Heel Pain (e.g. plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis)
- Toe Deformities (e.g. bunions, hammertoes)
- Flat Feet or High Arches
- Leg, Knee, Hip, or Back Pain – if connected to an abnormal foot structure
We will only recommend custom orthotics if we believe they will help the situation. Other forms of treatment might be recommended instead of, or in addition to, the use of orthotics.
Do They Need to Be Custom?
In the clear majority of cases where orthotics would be beneficial, a custom prescription will provide the best results.
Pre-fabricated orthotics, like you may find in a pharmacy or store, might be effective in minor cases. We might even recommend a pre-fabricated pair of orthotics depending on the situation. However, in many cases, pre-fabricated orthotics will not provide as much relief—if any relief at all.
Custom orthotics do tend to have a higher cost than pre-fabricated orthotics, but are covered by many insurance plans. They also are made from higher quality materials and tend to last much longer than anything bought at a store.
We will be happy to help you determine whether custom orthotics are supported by your insurance plan, should a recommendation for them arise. We would also conduct periodic (usually annual) check-ups of your orthotics to determine whether any adjustments, refurbishments, or replacements are necessary.
Find the Care That’s Right for You
Whether custom orthotics are part of an ideal care plan for your pain or discomfort, nothing will happen if you don’t take the first steps toward addressing your problem!
Contact our Woodway office at (254) 776-6995 to schedule an appointment with us. Or, if you prefer to contact us electronically, fill out our online contact form and we will respond to you during our standard business hours.
MON - THU | 8:00am - 5:00pm
FRI | 8:00am - 4:00pm
201 Colonnade Parkway, Suite #100
Woodway, TX 76712