Many of you will have heard of the word “orthotic”, seen people wear them in their shoes, and talk about them, but may not necessarily know what orthotic means. The term orthotic comes from the word origin “straight” or “make straight” and that is exactly what they are designed to do – straighten out an abnormal structure. When referring to foot orthoses, these are specially designed foot devices that go into your shoes, and are designed to provide support, and comfort to your specific feet.
What is the Purpose of an Orthotic?
The purpose of having orthotics to improve biomechanical function of your foot and ankle and/or provide specific accommodation for foot pathologies (accommodative orthoses). Improper biomechanics can be a result of many things such as: spine and hip deformities/malalignments, knee pathologies, and foot and ankle abnormalities. The reason these are important to treat is because having improper foot and ankle biomechanics can redirect your body weight to other areas on the foot not intended for it, and enable your foot to move in directions they are not meant to move. This can cause foot pathologies (plantar fasciitis, bursitis, ulcers, heel pain, tendinitis, etc.), which can make it difficult to walk without pain. What orthotics do for your feet is help correct for improper biomechanics, redistribute your body weight on your feet, prevent your foot from moving improperly, and help provide shock absorption.
Different Types of Orthotics Available
There are two primary categories for prescription orthotics and are targeted for specific issues, these include: Functional Foot Orthoses (FFOs) and Accommodative Orthoses.
- Functional Foot Orthoses: These orthoses are designed to improve your biomechanical function by controlling improper foot motion and improve shock absorption when walking or standing; this can help treat foot pain cause by this abnormal motion
- Accommodative Orthoses: These orthoses are designed to provide accommodation of specific foot pathologies and to accommodate patients with diabetic neuropathy. They are often softer and intended to provide patients with additional support and cushion; this is accomplished by reducing high pressure areas on the foot.
How Do I know What is Best for My Specific Feet?
The answer to this depends on the patient and their specific needs since each person’s foot is unique, and each person may have different goals (i.e. orthotics for athletes in running shoes or employees who want them in work shoes). When going in to your podiatrist’s office for a foot and ankle examine, depending on your specific needs and foot abnormalities, your podiatrist will prescribe an orthotic recommended for your specific feet. One of the best things about orthotics is the ability to transfer them between many different shoe types.
If you are experiencing foot or ankle pain or are interested in learning about orthotics for your feet, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander or Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona, and have receive proper education on orthotics, and how they can provide pain relief, and correct for your specific foot abnormality.