Custom orthotics are among the most valuable, versatile, and effective foot pain treatment tools we use at Gulf South Foot & Ankle. Unlike cheap, mass-produced insoles you can buy at the store, custom molded orthotics are individually crafted from an accurate 3D impression of your feet using either digital scanning technology, a plaster mold, or a foam box mold. You can then place them in your normal shoes like any other insert.
Why Custom Orthotics Work
Faulty foot mechanics, such as abnormal walking gaits or structural problems like flat feet, are at the heart of many common foot disorders. When your feet don’t operate the way they should, the everyday stresses of standing and walking start to cause pain and even deformity in the feet and ankles. Even worse, poor foot posture and gait creates alignment problems throughout your entire skeleton, potentially causing pain throughout the legs and back, too.
The role of the custom orthotic is to either accommodate or correct these flaws. They can provide extra cushioning or space for certain deformities such as bunions, but they can also help realign the feet into a more healthy, biomechanically efficient posture. Because they are made from sturdy, durable materials and are shaped to fit your feet exactly, they can do this much better than off-the-shelf alternatives.
Types of Orthotics
Custom orthotics fall into one of two broad categories: accommodative and corrective.
Accommodative orthotics are designed to accommodate an injury or deformity, providing appropriate cushioning, support, and space. They don’t alter the position or motion of your feet, but they do soften the impact of your steps. Accommodative orthotics are typically made from softer materials and are great for problems such as diabetic sores and ulcers, bunions, and calluses.
Corrective orthotics, also known as functional orthotics, are designed to actually correct the position, alignment, and motion of your feet. They tend to be made from harder materials, such as high density polypropylene, so that they can support the full weight of your body while successfully realigning your feet. They are often excellent at treating conditions caused by poorly aligned feet, including plantar fasciitis, flat feet, neuromas, tendinitis, and more.
What to Expect from Your New Orthotics
Many people are worried that their new orthotic will be bulky, awkward, or uncomfortable. However, the vast majority of orthotics are less than a quarter of an inch think and can easily slide into your shoes. Since they are custom molded to your exact foot shape, most people will comfortably adjust to orthotics, even those made from more rigid materials.
That said, because corrective orthotics actually change the position of your feet and change the way you walk, they may feel strange or even uncomfortable at first. This sensation is temporary, but to help you avoid pain we recommended a break-in period. Start by wearing your orthotics for only a half hour on your first day, then an hour the second, etc. By gradually increasing the amount of time you spend in your orthotics each day, you allow your body to adjust to them more naturally. The adjustment process can take around six weeks, although you may be able to tolerate them faster.
A set of custom orthotics can last several years if they are well cared for. Factors that affect the lifespan of your orthotics include the materials your orthotics are made from, your weight, how often you use them, and your level of activity. We strongly recommend that you visit us at least once a year for an orthotics checkup, or any time you start experiencing pain again. Due to foot, body, or lifestyle changes, your orthotics may need to be refurbished or adjusted periodically in order to keep them working as well as possible.
To find out of custom orthotics can help you with your foot pain, or to schedule a checkup or adjustment for your current pair, please call the team at Gulf South Foot & Ankle. You can reach us in Metairie, LA at (504) 708-4810, or in Covington, LA (985) 809-1464.