Sole-Lution Podiatry

Custom Foot Orthoses – Debunking the Myth

Ask any podiatrist and they will tell you how often they get asked by their patients “Do I need custom orthotics”? The answer is not as simple as most people think; whether an individual can benefit from a custom-made foot orthosis is dependent on many factors. Fortunately, I can answer the common questions we get from our clients about these devices so that you don’t have to wonder anymore! In this blog I’ll explain what they are, how they differ from off the shelf or store bough orthoses and who can benefit from them.

What exactly are Custom Foot Orthoses?

Custom Foot Orthoses, commonly known as orthotics, are tailor made insoles that provide support and help with alignment of the feet, ankles, and lower legs. The assistance in alignment isn’t limited to the lower limb either; the body is a chain and malalignment in the mid and upper body can sometimes be corrected by adjustments made to the feet with custom orthoses.

What is the difference between off the shelf and custom orthoses?

Off the shelf orthoses are pre-made inserts that come in standard size and shapes, whereas a custom orthosis will be designed specifically for your foot, taking into consideration the contours of your arch and bone structure. Before custom orthoses are manufactured, a detailed examination of the individual’s gait and specific issues is required.  Custom orthoses can also be manufactured with a variety of materials to ensure that the correct level of support and cushioning is achieved in the devices, which will also lead to higher levels of comfort.

Many individuals opt for off the shelf orthoses because of the cheaper cost, however these often do not longer than a few months as the material they are made of is not as durable as the materials used in custom orthoses. Most individuals (except for children who are growing quickly) get between 2.5 to 3 years use from their custom orthoses before requiring a new set.


What conditions can be treated with the use of custom orthoses?

Custom orthoses can be prescribed to those who are experiencing foot, ankle, lower leg, or back pain, or sometimes people who are not experiencing pain, however, are worried about their foot structure or gait. Here are some common conditions that custom orthoses can often help with:

  1. Flat feet (Pes Planus): Custom orthoses can help individuals by raising the arch height which often reduces strain and discomfort on the feet and lower legs associated with having flat feet.
  2. High arches (Pes Cavus):  Individuals with a high arch foot often distribute the pressure through 3 points (1st metatarsal head, 5th metatarsal head and heel). Custom orthoses can help to redistribute the pressure more evenly throughout the feet and reduce the stress on the ankle and lower legs.
  3. Arthritis: Custom orthoses can provide the required cushioning and support needed to reduce pain and discomfort associated with arthritis in the feet and ankles.
  4. Overpronation and supination: Orthoses can correct excessive pronation (rolling in) or supination (rolling out) of the feet, which often leads to a variety of foot and lower leg problems.
  5. Diabetic Foot Ulcers: For those with Diabetes, different areas in the feet can be high pressure points, and custom orthoses can be designed to redistribute weight and pressure away from these areas to reduce the likelihood of a Diabetic Foot Ulcer occurring.
  6. Bunions: Although custom orthoses are not usually the primary treatment of correcting a bunion, they can assist in providing cushioning, reducing pressure, and promoting better alignment of the big toe.

If you have further questions

Custom Foot Orthoses aren’t for everyone, but there are a variety of conditions that they can assist with. If you currently have some orthoses that you think need replacing, or you are experiencing pain and discomfort in the foot, ankle or lower leg please feel free to come in and one of our experienced podiatrists will be happy to assist you. Remember – you don’t have to be in pain currently to benefit from custom orthoses – so if you are worried about the structure of your foot or how you walk custom orthoses may be able to help you as well.

Have a great day!

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