Custom Orthotics

March 2015 – Surrey Podiatrist:

Could you benefit from custom orthotics?

This is a question I get asked on a daily basis. Orthotics are an investment of several resources including time, energy and money. When one needs to make a decision about whether or not custom orthotics would be useful, it largely depends what we are trying to treat and how severe their condition is. So how do we know?

Historically, when we think of arch supports most people think of the insoles that they can slip into any pair of shoes. Sometimes these devices are functional (correct abnormal mechanics of the foot) or are accommodative (cushion the plantar aspect of the foot). Most people will try over the counter products first and for some individuals, their symptoms are completely relieved with this process.

However, a good portion of the population does not benefit from over the counter products. This is often due to the fact that they have an underlying condition that simply cannot resolve with mass-made products. More importantly, your left and right foot are not identical and this is the greatest pitfall of over the counter devices and this is where custom orthotics can play an integral role in foot health.

When I consider making a custom device, a thorough exam is done to see if a person is a “candidate” for such a device. There are times when a brace is indicated rather than a custom orthotic or perhaps their biomechanics are within normal limits and they may benefit from a pair of off-the-shelf functional sport orthoses. Whatever the case may be, a comprehensive biomechanical and gait evaluation is a good way to learn how severe your condition is to see if custom orthotics are warranted.

Seeing a podiatrist for an exam of this type is standard in British Columbia. In fact, most if not all insurance carriers require it when making custom orthotics. A comprehensive exam by your podiatric doctor often takes about 20 – 30 minutes in order to create an accurate prescription for your feet.