Finding Support and Relief with Custom Orthotics

Sometimes your body, including your feet, needs a little help and support to function normally and without pain.

After all, that’s why you wear glasses when you have vision issues, or hearing aids when you have hearing issues. Tools can help your body do what it was designed to do properly and effectively. That’s the same reason people use custom orthotics for their feet.

What Are Orthotics?

Orthotics are special inserts that slip into shoes to add extra cushioning and support.

Custom orthotics, specifically, are prescription-based insoles dispensed by an experienced podiatrist like Dr. Stuart Birnbaum that fit your unique feet and biomechanical needs. The “custom” part is a very important distinction, as we’ll discuss in just a bit.

Customized inserts come in two main styles: functional and accommodative. They relieve pain by supporting your foot so it can better handle pressure and movement.

Functional orthotics are designed to control excessive motions that may be wearing on your lower limbs, often due to an abnormality in the structure of your foot. They are made from semi-rigid materials.

Accommodative orthotics are designed to provide extra cushioning and support, particularly in spots that are vulnerable to excess pressure. This allows them to help your feet absorb these potentially damaging forces better.

Accommodative orthotics are often made from softer materials than functional orthotics, and can help prevent conditions such as overuse injuries and ulcers.

Custom orthotics are not the only kind of shoe insert, however. There are also over-the-counter prefabricated insoles. You can find them in stores and pharmacies, or advertised on TV and the internet.

Pre-made orthotics do not require a prescription and fit your feet based largely on average foot sizes, which means they are not interchangeable with their truly custom counterparts. However, for some people, pre-made orthotics can help alleviate soreness and minor foot pain—just don’t expect them to work as effectively as custom orthotics in most cases, if at all.

When You Might Need Custom Orthotic Inserts

People need and use orthotics for a variety of reasons.

Over-the-counter shoe inserts can sometimes help you manage sore feet and mild pain. Maybe you need a little extra arch support in a particular pair of shoes, or while you run. Maybe a certain activity puts a lot of pressure on your heels. You may just need more cushioning in your work shoes. All are fair reasons to use shoe inserts.

Custom orthotics, on the other hand, tend to be required for more significant biomechanical problems, chronic pain or injuries, or serious conditions. These can include:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Severe overpronation (your foot rolling too far inward when you walk)
  • Ankle instability
  • Diabetic ulcers and foot collapse

A specialist such as Dr. Stuart Birnbaum can help you determine if you would benefit from using orthotics alongside or instead of other potential treatments.

Considerations When Prescribing Orthotics for Children

Orthotics are not just for adults; they can be an effective treatment for children, too.

In a general sense, orthotics for kids work very much like they do for adults, and for the same reasons: pain comes from the foot structure or motion being misaligned, and the orthotics provide the necessary correction or accommodation to eliminate the discomfort.

However, there are extra considerations when children are concerned.

Most notably, kids are still growing. In fact, it may take until age 5-7 for a child’s skeleton to “unwind” fully from its uterine position (this is why many children start out walking with toes pointed slightly inward, which often self-corrects over time). A child’s bones also remain relatively soft until they stop growing by the middle to late teens.

Unfortunately, this means that, while an adult may be able to use the same custom orthotic for several years with good care, children will need their inserts carefully monitored and replaced much more frequently.

In general, most kids will not need orthotics before about age 6, as many early childhood foot issues—such as flexible flatfeet and in-toeing—are often painless and tend to be self-correcting by that age.

However, if biomechanical issues persist as the child gets older, and those issues are causing pain, discomfort, gait problems, and/or struggles with walking or running properly, orthotics can lead to a significant improvement in function.

How to Get Custom Orthotics

Because custom inserts are prescribed to fit your unique needs, there is a process to crafting them.

First, as in any case, Dr. Birnbaum must thoroughly evaluate your feet, foot structure, and gait. We must be certain that we know what exactly is causing your problems before we can make any recommendations.

If it is determined that custom orthotics would greatly benefit your situation, and you agree to them, we then work on your prescription.

Our team will take measurements and foot casts to get the correct shape. From there, a pair of custom orthotic inserts is created exactly to that shape, with an exact amount of support and corrective materials as prescribed.

When ready, the inserts are then fitted to make sure they were designed correctly. Occasionally, some minor adjustments may be needed during this time.

Find the Right Solutions to Your Foot and Ankle Pain

Whether you use orthotics—and what kind—depends on your unique feet and needs. These special insoles are designed to alleviate discomfort so you can enjoy life without foot pain.

If you’re struggling with sore feet or chronic conditions like heel pain, custom orthotics might be the answer you’re looking for. Let Brook Valley Podiatry help you take care of your own or your loved ones’ feet today.

Contact our Spring Valley office through our online forms, or by calling (845) 352-7507. The sooner you address chronic pain and discomfort, the better results tend to be!

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