What is an Orthotic?
Child being sized for orthotics
An orthotic is a prescription device used to correct biomechanical abnormalities, treat foot pathology, alleviate pain and improve gait. There are many commercially-made devices, such as cushioned heel cups or prefabricated insoles for shoes sold over the counter in drug stores or other retail establishments that are simple comfort devices and not technically orthotics.
Prescription orthotics are created made using a 3D foam box impression with the foot in subtalor joint neutral and semi weight bearing position. The impression is then sent to a lab where an orthotic is created. This method is the most accurate and takes only moments to create.
The orthotics are then sized into the patient's shoe to support the foot and correct abnormal foot biomechanics by keeping the foot in its proper position. Orthotics are available in a variety of styles to fit various shoes, with a number of added options to suit each individual need.
Types of Orthotics
Generally, orthotics are grouped into the following categories:
Functional orthotics are devices that support or correct musculoskeletal deformities and/or abnormalities in the human body. When appropriately prescribed, these orthoses can decrease pain and increase stability in an unstable joint, along with preventing potential progression or development of a deformity. They are designed to support a wide variety of abnormal foot biomechanics by preventing pronation (flattening of the arch) and reducing impact while running or walking. They support the rear and midfoot joints utilizing a semi-rigid or rigid shell, helping to prevent repetitive overuse injuries. Functional orthotics are used to correct many foot deformities.
Accomodative orthotics are intended to support the foot and provide shock absorption and cushioning to the feet. These devices are generally indicated for diabetic, rheumatoid arthritis or elderly people that do not require or cannot tolerate corrective devices and only need to support and cushion their feet. They are most often used to relieve mild foot pain and correct minor foot problems.
Who Should Use an Orthotic?
Almost anyone can benefit from orthotics. Orthotics can alleviate many common foot problems that radiate upward causing pain and discomfort in other parts of the body.
What signs might indicate the need for orthotics?
• Uneven shoe wear
• Knee, Leg, or lower back pain
• Flatfeet or Pronation
• Shin splints
• Foot pain
• Malalignment syndromes
• Children's problems including in-toe,
out-toe and flat feet
• Sports injuries