Orthotics, or "arch supports" are devices that are designed to go in your shoes to reduce pain and change the way your foot functions when standing, walking, and running, so that it performs more efficiently and in an anatomically correct position. These "inserts" as they are also known as, can be pre-fabricated and sold by size, or they can be customized to fit your feet. Custom orthotics can further be divided into "accomodative" orthotics or "functional" orthotics. They are used for a variety of different of foot pain conditions and foot problems and are commonly used or prescribed to reduce pain or correct deformities.
Over-the-counter (OTC) orthotics are pre-fabricated and sold by size. They are typically full length or arch length inserts but they can be made of several different materials and have different levels of softness and flexibity. Some are made of a gel type of material and offer some cushioning but do not give much support for the arch. Other brands are more firm, and uphold the arch better, and these are usually recommended and dispensed in physician offices. There are many brands out there in stores and on the internet and range in price from $10 to about $60, but buyer beware, you get what you pay for. They may not be what you need. It is best to be evaluated by a foot specialist and have them give recommendations.
Accomodative Orthotics vs. Functional Orthotics
Accomodative orthotics are custom made orthotics designed to disperse weight-bearing forces on the bottom of the foot while standing and walking. They are usually made of soft materials and relieve pain on bony prominences, plantar calluses, neuromas, and bony foot deformities such as in a high arched foot. They are not used for sports or running and in general are more common in the geriatric population.
Functional orthotics are custom orthotics that are prescribed by foot specialists, similar in the way that an eye doctor writes a prescription for eyeglasses, and they are then made in a lab, and delivered to the patient at a follow up office visit. Prescription eyeglasses change the way your eyes function when you wear them so you can see better. Custom orthotics also change the way your foot functions so that you can walk and run better without pain, but only when you wear them. They can be arch length or full length with various materials, lending to different levels of thickness and rigidity, depending on their purpose. They are used for a variety of types of foot pain and deformities such as pediatric and adult flat feet or overpronation, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, bunions, arthritis, etc.
Integrative Foot & Ankle dispenses both OTC orthotics and custom orthotics for patients in the West Palm Beach, Florida, and surrounding areas. Sometimes, if orthotics do not help with a foot problem, then surgery may be necessary.