Learn All About Orthotics

> Functional Orthotics

> Custom-made Orthotics versus Off-the-shelf Inserts

> Do I need orthotics? Take the test:

> Our Guarantee on custom-orthotics at FootWise

> How custom-orthotics are made at FootWise

> About Your Orthotics: Materials, Comfort, Hygiene

Functional Orthotics

Your feet are your body’s foundation. As with any foundation, a small imbalance can cause problems in your feet or other parts of your body.

If you have obvious foot symptoms such as corns, calluses, bunions, cramps, arch pain, heel pain or fatigue, there’s a good chance you have a bad alignment of your foot structure. However, abnormal foot function can also lead to pain in your knees, hips, back, shoulders, neck, jaw or head. Foot-related problems can be successfully treated with specially constructed devices, known as functional orthotics, that fit into your shoes and control foot motion and weight distribution.

An extensive number of foot problems are ultimately caused by or extenuated by an incorrect and harmful position of the joints in the foot.

Included in this list of joint position-related foot problems are:

Arch spurs
Back pain
Flat feet
Heel pain
Ingrown Toenails
Knee Pain

Orthotics re-balance the position of the lower leg's jointsPatients suffering from these foot problems can acquire a pair of special insoles (called "orthotics") to correct the position of the feet's joints.

Orthotics are devices that fit into your shoes to improve natural foot function. They are not arch supports. In fact, "arch supports" only treat a small number of foot problems but do nothing to correct most foot problems, although they may temporarily relieve symptoms. Functional orthotics are prescription medical devices. They can significantly alter the progression of many foot deformities.

With properly constructed orthotics, an individual will feel definite improvements in the painful areas of their body affected by the abnormal foot function. The quality of the functional orthotic devices depends on the skill, aptitude, knowledge and experience of the podiatrist. Access to sophisticated new diagnostic tools like computerised and video analysis of walking, the quality of the lab used and other factors can make all the difference in an effective orthotic device.

These insoles can either be custom-made orthotics or pre-fabricated orthotics, depending on the nature and extent of the patient's disorder.

Custom-made orthotics require a specialised consultation, and the making of the custom plaster casting and the finished pair of orthotics.

Pre-fabricated orthotics involve a specialised consultation, and the purchase of the (customised) pre-fabricated orthotics.

Orthotics, especially custom orthotics, provide support for your feet at all times and higher joints of the knee, pelvis and subsequently, of the spine, into a natural and comfortable position.

Orthotics are therefore the crucial element in treating foot disorders at the source of the problem.

Custom-made Orthotics versus Off-the-shelf Inserts

Custom OrthoticsBecause custom orthotics are literally moulded to your foot, they offer the precision and comfort needed to truly re-align and re-balance the joints of your feet and subsequent upper joints of your skeleton.

Pre-fabricated orthotics will help in mild cases, but custom orthotics will give the best value for money and the best results to help your feet and to solve your foot problems.

Off-the-Shelf InsertsAn analogy can be made between eyeglasses and insoles: off-the-shelf inserts will help some people with mild symptoms. Custom-made insoles, which are made to each foot of a patient, are always more specifically corrective and more comfortable, just like prescription eyeglasses will give specific correction for each eye for each individual.

Do I need orthotics? Take the test:

Because perfect feet are very rare, almost anyone can achieve some benefit from an orthotic. Find out if you may be a candidate for orthotics by asking yourself if some of these statements apply to you:

You often wake up with pain in your foot.

Your feet roll.

You have a heel spur.

Your big toe points outwards, and you have a pointy big-toe joint (bunions).

After jogging, you find one of your knees hurts in the joint.

One side of the sole of your shoe wears out faster than the other.

You have chronic heel pain, knee pain, or lower back pain.

Your feet point inward or curl outward when you walk.

You frequently sprain your ankle.

You're a chronic victim of ingrown toenails.

You have corn or callous, and it keeps developing.

Your footprint shows no separation between the ball of your foot and your heel.

Your feet hurt in general.

Your feet should not hurt. Pain is the body's way of warning you something is wrong. All the above statements relate to an extremely common problem in the positioning of your feet's joints. This positioning in your feet affects the positioning in your knees, then in your pelvis, and eventually, in your back and neck.

If you ignore your pain, the condition causing it may worsen. To treat the problem at the source, to obtain permanent relief, you might need orthotics. Make an appointment with a FootWise podiatrist to have your condition diagnosed.

If you have any questions at all about orthotics or your foot problem, give us a call.

Our Guarantee on custom-orthotics at FootWise

Your custom-made orthotics are covered by two guarantees:

1. A 2-year warranty against breakage from the date of fitting against breakage resulting from normal wear and tear.

2. A 60-day money-back guarantee from the date of the fitting. If during those 60 days you are not completely satisfied with the results of your orthotics, we will cheerfully refund your expenses on the orthotics.

Give us a call for information about our guarantee.

How custom-orthotics are made at FootWise

The Initial Consultation

If during your initial consultation, your podiatrist recognises that orthotics will be of benefit to your foot problem, your podiatrist will perform a biomechanical examination of the foot and lower extremity.

A standing and walking gait analysis with a video and treadmill and/or a computerised walk analysis system will be performed to establish any abnormal function, then angle measurements of the foot and the ankle are taken to determine the functional deformities and the necessary correction.

You may then book a plaster or foam casting consultation, where the podiatrist will then make a 3-dimensional model of the patient’s feet. This can be either a plaster cast or a compressible foam cast of the feet. This model of the foot, together with the results of the biomechanical examination, is used to manufacture the custom-made insoles (prescription orthotics).

The Plaster or Foam Casting Consultation

This plaster cast (or foam cast) will be used to create a pair of orthotics that will balance and correct your feet precisely according to your foot type, walking tendencies, joint misalignments and all other related foot conditions.

The whole process last about 30 minutes, and you will be lying on your belly the whole time.

Your podiatrist will begin by holding your foot in a specific "neutral" position, and he will then wrap wide plaster bandages around your foot. After a few minutes, when the plaster is just about hard, your podiatrist will pull the first plaster cast off your foot, and start the same process with your other foot.

The Making of the Orthotics

The two casts (now dry and hard) will be sent to a lab where the plastic orthotics are custom-made according to the shape of the casts and according to specific instructions and measurements given by your podiatrist to "counter-effect" the detrimental position of your feet's joints.

In the lab, the casts of your feet are digitally scanned into the computer, the information regarding the podiatrist’s prescription is added to create the design of your individual orthotics. All that digital data is then downloaded to the computerised milling machine which carves out your orthotics from a solid block of high-density Polystone PP within 5 microns of accuracy. Excess material is then grinded off and the orthotics are then quality controlled.

The Fitting Consultation: How to Wear the Orthotics

Your orthotics will then be fitted by your FootWise Podiatrist. During this consultation, he may make minor adjustments to improve shoe fit. It is therefore important you come to that consultation with the shoes in which you intend wearing your orthotics most.

You will find the orthotics very comfortable to wear as they have been custom-made to your foot. But because your posture will have been corrected by the orthotics, you may find it “weird” walking with the orthotics in your shoes in the beginning. Your muscles and ligaments need to get used to working in new positions, and this adaptation needs to be gradual in order to be smooth: the first day only wear the orthotics during 1 hour, and each day increase the wearing time by another hour until you are wearing the orthotics at least 75% of the day. Do not use the orthotics for sport for the first 2 weeks since sport places your feet, legs and back under greater stress.

The Review Consultations: Checking Everything's Going Fine

After 2 weeks you should be wearing your orthotics “full-time” and should then see your FootWise Podiatrist again for a 1st review consultation to assess your orthotics and ensure that they are functioning correctly.

One month later, a 2nd and last review consultation should be attended to check everything. After that, a yearly review is recommended especially for adults and growing children. For adults, the yearly review is recommended because ageing, gaining weight and other factors may warrant minor changes to the orthotics. For growing children, it is recommended in order to check that the orthotics are still the correct size.

About Your Orthotics

The orthotics you will be fitted with are made of Polystone PP, a unique kind of polypropylene. They are very tough and hard-wearing, which allows us to offer a 2 year warranty on their resilience. They will not break or bottom out due to normal wear and tear, or we will replace them free of charge.

They are extremely light-weight and comfortable, which is important for anyone as well as for athletes where weight minimization is an important issue.

They are also very hygienic: they are very easily cleaned, are impermeable to water and moisture which will prevent bacterial or fungal growth.

Related Links

Common Foot Problems
Call FootWise to make an appointment
The use of orthotics in the treatment of lower extremity disorders (PodiatryNetwork.com)
Types of orthotics: Which one for you? (American Podiatric Medical Association)

All information provided on this web site is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for medical diagnosis, prognosis or treatment for any specific condition or individual. Always seek the advice of your podiatric physician or other healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The information found here is no substitute for the advice of a qualified podiatric physician.

Thanks to OurFootDoctor.com, DrHowardPenn.com and PodiatryChannel.com, from which parts of this page's content have been derived.



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