Feet were always meant to handle a heavy load, carrying us from place to place throughout the course of our lives. But, unfortunately, not all feet do this equally well. Flat feet or high arches might be quicker to wear down than feet with a neutral arch. On top of that, the extra stresses of the modern world—with hard and flat manmade surfaces everywhere—make their job even tougher!
Sometimes, your feet need a little extra help managing all the stress, weight, and pressures of daily life. That’s where orthotics come in. These devices slide into your shoes and can provide your heels, arches, and even ankles with a little extra cushioning, support, or stability.
How Do Orthotics Work?
It’s helpful to think of orthotics as being like eyeglasses or contacts. These devices don’t fix your eyes, but they do allow the eyes you already have to bring things into sharp focus.
In the same way, some feet have biomechanical issues that lead to pain. Bones and connective tissues may be misaligned, causing pain not only in the feet but potentially throughout the legs and back, too. Orthotics won’t change the shape of your feet, but they can put your feet and joints in proper alignment and even fix abnormalities in your walking gait. They may also provide extra cushioning and support for sensitive pressure spots. The right pair of orthotics will dramatically reduce pressure on your feet and joints and allow you to perform daily activities without pain.
Orthotics, custom and otherwise, can be created for different pairs of shoes and for different needs, including work, recreation, or sports.
Prefabricated Versus Custom—Which Do You Need?
In the broadest sense, the word “orthotics” could include everything from $5 foam insoles off the rack at the gas station to custom-made, full-contact inserts that cost hundreds of dollars. How do you know which you need?
Here are the basics:
- Over-the-counter inserts are mass produced to fit many common foot shapes and address a number of common pain points. They cost less than custom orthotics (often much less), but they’re also usually made from cheaper materials and wear down faster. They also cannot correct significant biomechanical issues. That said, their multiple layers of cushioning and moderate support for heels and arches may be “good enough” for people with more manageable pain and soreness.
- Custom orthotics are prescribed by a licensed practitioner (such as Dr. Levine) and customized to meet individual needs. We will cast your feet and send the mold to an orthotics lab, so they can create insoles to your exact specifications. Because they’re made just for you, custom orthotics can offer significantly better relief for more serious pain, caused by conditions like heel pain, tendinitis, and even diabetic wounds. They can also be made to correct biomechanical issues with your walking gait.
While custom orthotics are generally more expensive than the store-bought alternatives, they also tend to be more durable, and can often be refurbished or adjusted periodically to remain at peak effectiveness.
The right pair of orthotics can go a long way in relieving or eliminating pain and improving foot function. The key is to know what your unique feet need for support. Let our team at Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas help you determine whether you would benefit from orthotics, and what kind you need. Use our website or call (702) 839-2010 to schedule a consultation.