Not everyone is born with perfect feet. And even if they do start out that way, life can throw a few obstacles in your path that end up making your feet hurt — every single day. Certain shoe styles, medical conditions such as diabetes and arthritis, and even healthy-for-you exercise/sports can create foot problems that slow you down.
For many pain causing problems, foot inserts/orthotics are often recommended to help balance foot structures that may be out of alignment or imbalanced. Foot orthotics can be made from different materials, and may be rigid, semirigid, semiflexible, or accommodative, depending on your diagnosis and specific needs.
Determining what type of insert will work for your feet is what DPMs do best. After a thorough evaluation that includes assessing your foot structure, current footwear and how you walk, recommendations for non-custom over the counter-type inserts or custom –type will be discussed with you. Many foot problems can be addressed with OTC inserts and proper shoes. A question often asked by patients are about kiosk-type inserts which capture an image of your foot then recommends inserts. These may provide some relief but more frequently only do so for short periods of time then individuals are motivated to make an appointment with a DPM. NMFAI has several types of OTC inserts that are often recommended and are priced reasonably.
Custom orthotics are recommended for foot deformities where asymmetry is present or more progressed structural malalignment exists. These orthotics are made to an actual model of your foot that is either captured via a casting process or via advanced digital scanning. There are many choices for orthotic materials and the toplines or covers.
Your doctor will discuss with you what activities and footwear you will be using the orthotics for then determine the type of orthotic to order. Often, the recommendation is to have different orthotics made for the variable activities and shoes being used. An orthotic made for a hiking shoe is needing to be sturdier with greater shock absorption then one used in a dress shoe. Instead of compromising how one orthotic will work for you if you are active in different types of sports or work, having different orthotics may be the better choice.
Orthotics are Built to Last
The good news about custom orthotics is that they will last many years. I, personally have an orthotic that is over 30 years and works as well as it did when it was originally made. Just like your home and car, orthotics do need regular maintenance to keep them in the best working condition. With that said, many patients do require new, updated orthotics as their foot structures may have changed over time so we recommend annual check-ups on your orthotics to make sure their working optimally for you.