A foot orthotic is a device that is fabricated from a casted impression of an individual’s foot. Foot orthotics are prescribed for many types of painful foot disorders. They are very helpful in correcting mechanical foot imbalances, which place abnormal stresses on the joints and ligaments within the foot.
Foot orthotics are especially effective for individuals whose foot problems are compounded by work and activities which place extra demands on the foot. Although not a panacea, when indicated, foot orthotics are the answer to pain limiting foot problems.
Foot orthotics are prescribed for an array of foot problems. Heel pain, arch pain, diabetic ulcerations, shin splints, prevention of recurring stress fractures or knee and back pain resulting from poor foot mechanics are just some of the conditions which respond well to orthotics. It is a well known fact that abnormal foot mechanics cause stresses that result in foot, leg, knee and low back pain.
Types of custom orthotics vary depending on the purpose for which they are used. There are basically two types of foot orthotics. First, there is the functional orthotic which is used to control the motion of joints within the foot. This type of orthotic would be helpful in controlling abnormal foot pronation or “rolling at the arch”. The second type of foot orthotic is an accommodative device. This is fabricated from a softer material and is used to decrease pressure on a select area. An accommodative orthotic can be very helpful in treating and preventing diabetic ulcerations. Various combinations of materials and modifications may be used to custom fabricate an orthotic for a specific problem. The final product is a result of your prescription, which is sent to the lab with the casted foot molds.
There are many steps in fabricating a custom orthotic. At the lab, materials are cut, heated, shaped, ground, glued, smoothed and measured. The most important step is in the foot doctors office. The impression of your foot and the manner with which it is taken will directly influence the final result. From the first impression, a duplicate or positive mold is made of the foot. The lab uses this copy of a foot and with the use of the doctor’s orders, a custom prescription orthotic is fabricated.
As mentioned above, orthotics are not a panacea for any painful condition. A good evaluation is a prerequisite to determine whether they are indicated.