When you see a podiatrist for help with foot pain, they may recommend custom orthotics. Orthotics aren't always needed, but they can help a variety of foot conditions. Here's when custom orthotics may help and how they're made.
When Your Podiatrist Might Recommend Orthotics
Orthotics help align your feet properly. They can also provide support and padding. They might control foot movement to reduce strain caused by rolling your feet as you walk. Since many foot conditions as well as back and hip pain can be caused by gait problems, correcting the way you stand and walk could diminish your pain.
Custom orthotics are much better than shoe inserts you buy off the shelf since the custom variety is made to match the shape of your feet perfectly. Plus, the podiatrist can have padding and support added exactly where you need it.
How Custom Orthotics Are Made
These orthotics are made using a mold of your feet. Your podiatrist might make an impression of your feet and send it to the lab, or they might use computer software to make a digital model of your feet. Once the lab has a model to work with, they build the orthotics using suitable materials. Some are soft and padded, and others are rigid, depending on the help your feet need. Each foot may be different, and you may need a combination of rigid support and cushioning.
Custom orthotics are of higher quality than shoe inserts bought off the shelf. Over-the-counter inserts don't last very long, while custom inserts can last for several years.
What To Expect With New Orthotics
When you first start wearing your custom orthotics, you might notice areas that cause discomfort. Let your podiatrist know because the orthotics can be modified if needed until the fit is perfect. You may be instructed to get used to wearing the orthotics gradually. It may be a few weeks until you're wearing them all day.
You might also need to change your footwear so the orthotics fit well in your shoes. If you're wearing the orthotics for a chronic gait condition or structural abnormality, you may need to wear them for the long term and wear them every day to have lasting relief from pain. If you need orthotics to recover from an injury, you might not need to wear them all the time once you've recovered.
You don't usually see results right away because your body has to adjust to your new foot alignment. However, you may notice a gradual improvement in your pain. Your podiatrist might also order physical therapy to help your lower body and foot muscles adapt to the changes in the way you bear weight and walk.