Middle school is a period of life that some people would love to forget—at least when it comes to awkward yearbook photos. Most likely, you spent half of your time in the orthodontist’s chair getting braces tightened, fixed, and finally removed. Maybe you’re still wearing your retainer, as clumsy as it may be, after all these years. That’s very good actually—your retainer keeps your crooked teeth in line. The same is true with custom orthotics. These devices treat your foot problems by correcting your foot’s tendency to strike the ground improperly.
Brace Yourself: There’s Two Different Types
There are actually two types of orthotics: the kind you can get at your local pharmacy and the kind you are prescribed from a podiatrist. Technically, the over-the-counter shoe inserts from the store that come in packages with the words “arch support,” “insoles,” and “heel cups” on them cannot be called orthotics, although they’re often referred to as such. These type of inserts are alright if you need temporary cushioning, but they’re not useful if you have a long-term foot problem or a condition like diabetes or poor circulation. Only orthotics prescribed from a podiatrist can correct your biomechanical problems, eliminate your foot problem, and truly be called “custom orthotics.”
Why Custom Orthotics and Not Over-The-Counter Inserts?
What makes orthotics so special? First, they’re created only after taking a specific casting, three-dimensional image, or custom measurement of your foot. When the orthotic comes back from the lab, it will be tailored to fit the shape of your foot and nobody else’s.
Second, orthotics are designed for how your foot moves. We will examine the unique way you walk when we’re fitting you for orthotics and take into account any irregular foot strikes your foot possesses. Maybe your ankle rolls in or out too far when you walk, or maybe you have a bunion or ulcer that needs pressure taken off to stop progressing and start healing. Whatever your foot ailment—plantar fasciitis, bursitis, tendonitis—we can treat it.
There’s two categories of support with custom orthoses. If we’re looking to realign some type of abnormal foot strike that’s causing pain, we will most likely prescribe you with a stiffer, rigid orthotic made of plastic or graphite called a functional orthotic. If we’re looking to cushion a painful spot caused by an ulcer, blister, or callus, we might offer you a softer type of support called an accommodative orthotic.
If you’re just going out on the town or volunteering for the weekend, you might want to try an over-the-counter insert to cushion your feet before switching to a custom orthotic. However, if you’re suffering from excessive foot pain and have an ongoing problem, custom orthotics are the way to go. A pair prescribed by a podiatrist will cost more, but they are constructed from materials that last longer—typically from 3 to 5 years—and provide better stability and support. Your insurance may also cover some of the cost.
When it comes to your foot pain, invest in quality care that will prevent future problems. Make an appointment with Victoria L. Melhuish, DPM, at Sierra Foot and Ankle in Carson City or Gardnerville, NV. Our offices also serve the surrounding areas of Reno, Gardnerville Ranchos, and Minden. To make an appointment call (775) 783-8037.