Frequently Asked Questions
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Important: if you feel pain or extreme persistant discomfort from the use of orthotics, please speak with your health care practitioner. the orthotics may need to be adjusted to achieve the perfect fit.
What is custom foot orthotics?
Custom orthotics are a widely used biomechanical medical device that resembles insoles. Each set of foot orthotics is custom made and unique to the patient, they are designed to correct a specific foot imbalance and/or restore your natural foot function.
A doctor/foot care practitioner may prescribe orthotics to re-align the foot and ankle bones to their neutral position, thereby restoring natural foot function. In turn this helps reduce stress and strain on your body by bringing your feet back into proper alignment. Keep reading to discover the conditions treated by the use of orthotics and how effective custom orthotics can be.
Who needs custom orthotics?
Custom orthotics may be prescribed to overweight individuals, athletes and people who spend a substantial amount of the day on their feet. Custom foot orthotics are designed to provide cushion, improve shock absorption, decrease shear force, and redistribute downwards pressure so that injury is prevented. This is said to result in dramatic improvement of foot symptoms, some of which include but are not limited to:
- overall foot pain
- localized foot pain
- ball of foot pain
- pain in arch of foot
- heel pain
- leg or knee pain
- hip or back pain
- ankle pain
- bunions or hammer toe
- fallen arches or flat foot
- sore feet
- neck pain
How can I get custom orthotics?
You may want to consult your family doctor to better understand your problem. Doctors often tend to the obvious and may not ask a specific question about your sore feet, back pain or nagging legs. You can help your doctor to identify the underlying cause of your problem by bringing to discussion any discomfort or pain in your foot, knee, leg, back or even neck. Your family doctor or a health care practitioner can recommend foot assessment and custom orthotics to help correct the root cause of foot imbalance and restore your natural foot and body function.
Why do I need a prescription from my family doctor for orthotics?
It is not uncommon for a doctor to prescribe custom foot orthotics to better control the healing process following an injury or surgery. Custom orthotics can also alleviate foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, bunions, callouses, shin splints, foot injuries, ulcerations or help to address problems elsewhere in the body such as, knee, hip or lower back pain. In all cases, the orthotics must be custom made using a cast (mould) of your foot. In order to get a pair of custom-made orthotics you need a prescription. If you are planning on using your medical insurance to cover the cost of custom orthotics you will also need to obtain the prescription in order to be eligible for this type of coverage. You can acquire a prescription from a family doctor, orthopaedic surgeon, podiatrist, or any other qualified health care practitioner.
How long does it take to get used to a new pair of custom orthotics?
Everybody adjusts to orthotics in their own time. New custom orthotics may not be very comfortable at first. The orthotics break-in period depends on many factors. These factors include but are not limited to: the size or shape of the orthotics, type of material, the nature and severity of your foot knee or back problem, or the general health, weight, age and lifestyle of patients. However, it usually takes from two to four weeks to become accustomed to any type of orthotics. Read more...
Do custom orthotics cause muscle weakness?
The short answer is no. In fact, orthotics help achieve the complete opposite. Studies have shown in an increase in foot strength following the use of orthotics. Orthotics help position your foot in a way that helps use the right muscles at the right time, minimizing soreness and fatigue, allowing your energy to be used more efficiently.
How do I break-in my new custom orthotics?
To comfortably break-in new orthotics, most foot care specialists recommend to wear them just for an hour on the first day. Then slowly extend the wear time over a period of two weeks to four weeks. After the first day, wearing time can be increased by 30 minutes to each wear. The break-in period is very much a “listen to your feet and body” time. If things are feeling good, patients may choose wearing orthotics longer each day.
It is best to break-in custom orthotics with a new pair of shoes. Properly fitting footwear is essential for the orthotic to do its job. New custom orthotics might feel strange or uncomfortable at first. That’s because they redistribute pressure and retrain affected muscles to work differently as you walk.
After four weeks, you should feel accustomed to your orthotics. At that point, they should provide some relief for persistent symptoms. Yet if they continue to make you feel pain in your feet, ankles, knees, legs, hips or back, don’t hesitate to take action. See your podiatrist or pedorthist for a possible adjustment and/or modification to your orthotic.
How Often Should I be Wearing My Orthotics?
To get the most benefit out of your orthotics you should be wearing them all the time that you are on your feet. It is the best to have them on your feet for the whole day, if you are required to work on your feet. However, if you are not on your feet but at home on your armchair watching movie, then you are not getting benefits from wearing orthotics at all.
Should I wear my custom orthotics all the time?
Wear your custom orthotics as much as you practically can and you will get most benefit out of them. The longer you overloading or overusing your feet the more benefit you will get out of your orthotics. If different daily activities require you to change your footwear, you should move the orthotics from shoe to shoe, or have a second or even third pair of custom orthotics designed for that specific activity.
How can I clean my orthotics?
Rinse your orthotics in cold on lukewarm water. Fill the sink with warm water and add a mild dish soap and antibacterial soap (optional). Take a dish cloth and rub both sides of the orthotics. You may also use an old tooth brash and scrub the orthotics. Rinse the orthotics thoroughly, then dry them with a towel and let them air dry overnight.
Important: do not saturate your orthotics in water. Do not attempt to clean your orthotics using washing machine. Do not dry the orthotics using drying machine, hair dryer or any other source of heat. Avoid exposing your orthotics to sunlight.
Why do my new custom orthotics feel uncomfortable?
While the custom orthotic does its job realigning the structure of your foot, you may expect the beginning to be a little uncomfortable. You may feel pressure at the bottom of your foot in some areas, but it shouldn’t be too painful and should go away with time. For this reason, custom orthotics should be worn just for an hour on the first day and slowly extend the wear time over a period of two weeks. Read more...
How do I know I need to see a foot care doctor?
Foot care doctors are highly trained medical professionals who specializes in disorders of the foot and ankle. Your family doctor may include foot examination during routine physicals and may alert you to certain problems for follow-up by a foot care professional. Those problems may include, but is not limited to, swelling, sores, changes in skin color or temperature, and unusual sensations, pain or excessive foot fatigue.
Although extra or even moderate level of activity may cause foot fatigue, it rarely causes pain. If the foot problem persists after you have rested, consult a foot care specialist.