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Orthotics , Insoles or Arch Supports

Updated: Apr 28

Foot orthoses are biomedical devices that are used to control the position and mobility of the foot and lower extremity. It is an umbrella term that can have significantly different meanings and encompasses everything from over-the-counter arch supports to inserts and insoles to custom-made prescription orthotics to braces. They are indicated for a wide variety of lower extremity problems, foot and ankle pathology and sports and fitness activities where they provide support and protection, lessen the chance of injury, give your body better balance, boost your workout capacity and much more.

Foot orthoses have been used to reduce foot and ankle pain, reduce overuse injuries, generate foot stability, improve overall gait, eliminate pathological stress to the foot or other parts of the lower extremity, modify the structural and functional characteristics of the human neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems and may be able to fast-track your post-surgical recovery. A foot orthosis can be a real biomechanical workhorse and a such is a popular modality recommended and used by a variety of medical providers, laboratories, therapists and retail stores.

Needless to say, this can all be very confusing to patients or consumers who are interested in understanding prescription and non-prescription foot care products and devices.

We're here to help you navigate the ins and outs of orthotics.

Prescribing orthotics begins with a thorough understanding of lower extremity anatomy, pathophysiology, biomechanics and dynamic diagnostics. Meaning that a

foot orthosis will do little to relieve your pain, correct an abnormality or prevent the progression of a disease or disorder unless there is a diagnostic assessment for its need. Meaning that the success of an orthotic device first depends on a proper medical diagnosis and the expertise and skill of the provider and should only be initiated as part of a defined treatment plan outlined by your physician. Prescription orthotics may be combined with other treatment modalities or surgical interventions and are customized according to age and diagnostic need.

Look for ancillary providers who work alongside your doctor to provide high-quality custom orthotics. Orthotics are a healthcare modality i.e. a method of treatment, a piece of equipment or an interventional strategy to help patients and improve their overall health. As such they are no different than a prescribed medication and prescribing the wrong medication, or in this case, the wrong orthotic never results in a positive outcome. Improper orthotics can be a waste your time and money and may even worsen your condition.

Custom molded prescription orthotics require a prescription based on a physical exam including a biomechanical evaluation. Board certified physicians (podiatrists) who specialize in the medical, surgical and orthopedic treatment of the foot and ankle with clinical training in biomechanics of the lower extremity are the recognized diagnosticians and consultants whose knowledge and experience can help determine if orthotics are the proper course of treatment and if so which type would benefit the patient.

Next - Making an Informed Decision About Prescription Orthotics

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