If persistent foot or ankle pain is a problem for you, custom orthotics may very well be part of the solution.
Custom orthotics are tools we often turn to when structural abnormalities in a patient’s feet are connected to a source of pain or discomfort, or when the way that forces are distributed across their feet need to be adjusted in some way.
Why do we recommend orthotics so often? Because they are very effective! While custom orthotics are not part of every treatment plan (no one treatment ever is), they have helped many patients achieve improved mobility and quality of life.
What Do Custom Orthotics Do?
The musculoskeletal structure of the foot is very important, not only for supporting the weight of the body, but also allowing it to move efficiently. There are a ton of moving parts working in tandem to get the job done.
However, if there is an abnormality in the structure of the foot, it can throw off the way that weight and forces are applied to muscles and joints throughout the body. Problems such as flat feet, overpronation, or high arches can lead to an excess amount of pressure being centered in areas that were not built to endure them, increasing the potential for strain and injury.
As the body tries to adjust to abnormal shifts in movement, it can lead to strain in the legs, knees, hips, or lower back as well—not just the feet!
Custom orthotics alleviate these symptoms by addressing the fundamental irregularity in structure. They typically come in the form of inserts that are inserted into the shoes. They provide exact amounts of cushioning and corrective support to maintain greater stability and shift excess pressure away from vulnerable areas.
What custom orthotics do not do is permanently “fix” the structural abnormality. Surgery is the only treatment that can do so in most cases, but custom orthotics can provide a conservative means of finding relief.
How Are Custom Orthotics Prescribed?
“Prescribed” is the correct term here. Custom orthotics are designed specifically to the shape of an individual patient’s feet, much like prescription glasses are designed specifically for one person’s eyes.
Before we ever recommend custom orthotics (or any other form of treatment), though, we must ensure we understand the root of the problem. That requires a thorough examination, which may include asking you questions about how your symptoms are affecting your life.
If we determine that custom orthotics would be right for your treatment plan, we then capture the shape of your feet, either through a mold or imaging. Our specific prescription for your orthotics accompanies this information to a lab where your orthotics are made.
A Few Things to Know
Once your orthotics return from the lab, we make sure they fit you well. However, there is still a break-in period. We’ll provide you with direction for when and how often to wear your orthotics, gradually increasing the amount of time you spend in them daily over the first few weeks. This helps ensure you adjust to your orthotics properly, with minimal discomfort.
It is also possible that further small adjustments to the orthotics will be necessary as you get used to them. If you feel discomfort that is unexpected, or pain continues past a certain period of time, let us know right away!
Finally, while custom orthotics are built to be durable, that does not mean they will last forever. Just like shoes, they will eventually wear down with enough use. It is important to periodically check in on your orthotics (usually once per year) to ensure they are refurbished or replaced, if necessary.
Many insurance plans will cover one pair of custom orthotics per year. So even if your current pair still has some life left in them, it doesn’t hurt to get another pair! That can extend the life of both pairs, as well as save you the hassle of switching inserts from shoe to shoe.
Get the Care You Need for Your Persistent Pain
Whether custom orthotics or another form of treatment is best for your heel pain, ankle pain, or other symptoms, it’s important to understand and start addressing the source of the problem sooner rather than later. Not only will you feel better, faster, but you may prevent future complications as well.Schedule an appointment with our Massapequa office by calling (516) 541-9000 or by filling out our online contact form.