Chances are high that you have heard the term orthotics during your life, but many of us do not know any specific details regarding them. Dr. Schlomo Schmuel has over 20-years of experience in Podiatric Medicine and is responsible for the multiple locations of his practice, Sunset Foot Clinic throughout California. Schlomo Schmuel DPM, took the time to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding orthotics and the process of obtaining them.
What are Orthotics?
There are two main types of orthotics available to choose from — the first, called rigid or functional orthotics, fit best inside walking or dress shoes that have a low heel and a closed toe. This orthotics type is designed to help reduce foot pain, as well as relieve pain in the legs and lower back; that is caused by abnormal motion. Rigid orthotics are often made from plastic or graphite and are used to treat injuries such as tendinitis or shin splints.
In comparison, soft or accommodative orthotics are made from softer materials and provide the cushion needed to reduce foot pain caused from pressure or sore areas, such as foot ulcers from diabetes or calluses on the bottom of the foot. Schlomo Schmuel explains that this type of orthotics often requires prescription footwear for the best fit. They can also be designed specifically for sporting activities, to fit your sports equipment like ice skates and ski boots and reduce pain during and after workouts.
Whichever kind you choose, custom orthotics are designed specifically to fit, support, and provide comfort to your individual feet. A prescription medical device, orthotics are designed for the way you move and to fit the individual contours of your feet.
What is the Difference Between Orthotics and Shoe Inserts?
Shoe orthotics are not the same as the inserts you can purchase over the counter at a drugstore to help improve the comfort of your shoes and ease some kinds of foot pain. While shoe inserts, often made from gel, plastic, or foam; can provide extra arch support and foot cushioning, especially at the heel and toe areas; they are not designed to correct more serious issues. Dr. Schlomo Schmuel states that the most common type of shoe inserts are arch supports, insoles, heel liners, and foot cushions. Further stating that they can help cushion your feet, support your arches, and provide comfort, including the prevention of foot and leg pain — but they cannot cure the long-term issues that orthotics would address.
Orthotics are prescription medical devices designed specifically to help correct foot problems, which can be caused by the way you walk, stand, or run. Dr. Schlomo Schmuel explains that orthotics can also be prescribed to help diminish foot pain from other medical conditions, such as arthritis, bursitis, plantar fasciitis, and diabetes. Orthotics are often prescribed by your podiatrist as the first step to minimize pain before other surgical solutions are considered.
How do I get Fitted for Prescription Orthotics?
First, schedule a visit with your podiatrist to learn if prescription orthotics are the best option to reduce your foot or ankle pain. According to Dr. Schlomo Schmuel, your podiatrist will do a complete examination, which depending on technology can include taking 3D images of your feet and observing the way you walk. If your doctor prescribes orthotics to ease your pain, he or she will make an imprint of your feet to ensure your orthotics fit well and select whether soft or rigid orthotics are the best solution for your condition.
Schlomo Schmuel’s Final Thoughts
Orthotics are a prescription medical device, so they might be covered by your health insurance plan. Make sure that you schedule a follow-up appointment with your podiatrist to help ensure the orthotics fit properly and help to ease your pain in the future. If you have any concerns with the orthotic inserts, you should contact your physician immediately.