Orthotics are a common treatment for foot issues and many people use them on a daily basis. However, it can be difficult to tell if you need orthotics and why exactly they can help you. While it is always a good idea to visit a podiatrist if you fear you have a serious foot issue, understanding common reasons for getting orthotics can help you make an informed decision.
What do orthotics do?
Orthotics are custom-made, prescription inserts you wear inside your shoes. They correct biomechanical foot issues, like problems with how you stand, walk, or run. They also benefit patients with foot pain caused by diabetes, plantar fasciitis, arthritis, and bursitis. Another common use is for patients with flat feet or little to no arches.
How are orthotics different from normal inserts?
Inserts are very similar to orthotics in that they are worn inside your shoes for extra support. However, while orthotics correct serious foot problems, inserts only provide cushioning and support. Inserts are not custom-made nor do you need a prescription to buy them. If you have mild foot pain or discomfort, inserts can make your shoes more comfortable.
Common reasons patients get orthotics
Patients get orthotics for many reasons. Learning about common issues orthotics can fix can help you determine if you should get them.
Foot Pain. While this seems rather obvious, there is a significant number of people who suffer from unnecessary foot pain. Continuously wearing ill-fitting shoes can cause permanent damage to your feet. Shoes which don’t conform to the natural shape of your foot (like high heels or pointed toe shoes) can cause stress and fatigue. Orthotics can add support back to your feet and reduce pain.
Heel Pain. Heel pain sits in a separate category from foot pain because severe heel pain can be a sign of plantar fasciitis. If you have severe heel pain especially in the morning, you may have plantar fasciitis. This condition is specifically treated by orthotics.
Arch issues. Orthotics can help if you have no arch or a high arch in your foot. If you have either of these issues, regular shoes probably are not giving your feet the support they need. Looking at the insides of your feet can help you determine if your arches are too high or low.
Over or Under-Pronation. Our feet have a natural turn to them, but sometimes patients’ feet are turned too much or too little. Over and under-pronation can cause severe pain and exhaustion of the feet. Orthotics can help correctly align your feet and ease the pain. To test if you have over or under-pronated feet, wet the bottoms of your feet then step on a piece of newspaper to see your footprint. There should be a natural c-curve in your footprint. A prominent c-curve suggests under-pronation and no c-curve suggests over-pronation.
Consult a podiatrist
If you think you need orthotics it is best to seek a podiatrist’s opinion. Not only do you need a podiatrist to prescribe orthotics, but he or she can assess you for any other underlying issues and suggest other treatment options.
The sooner you visit a podiatrist, the sooner you can return to living a pain free, active life.