Orthotics Treatments for Better Footcare

By  //  February 26, 2020

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Orthotics are specially designed heel inserts or medical shoes prescribed by a doctor that need to be custom-made for your feet.

Orthotics are specially designed heel inserts or medical shoes prescribed by a doctor that need to be custom-made for your feet.

A physician typically prescribes orthotics to treat back, leg or foot problems. Keep reading to learn more about the ailments orthotics can treat, as well as their effectiveness.

Do you require orthotics?

Orthotics are usually an element of a comprehensive treatment plan designed to address a multitude of symptoms, which typically surround discomfort and pain in the legs and feet.

Some of the aims of prescribed orthotic treatments can include:

• Providing ankle support

• Correcting foot deformities

• Reducing the chances of further injury to a foot or leg

• Supporting the better functioning of feet or ankles

Orthotic devices go beyond the shoe inserts or heel pads you find in many mainstream athletic stores. They’re specially customized heel inserts or shoes that are bespoke-manufactured for your feet.

Your physician will only prescribe orthotics if off-the-shelf devices or various other treatments, like physio exercises, prove to be ineffective.

How are problems diagnosed by a podiatrist?

You may go to a podiatrist, a medical professional who specializes in feet conditions, if you’re experiencing prolonged or unmanageable foot or heel pain.

To begin with, they’ll question you about your symptoms. Questions are likely to be centered around when you first started noticing your symptoms, what exacerbates them, and what helps (if anything) to alleviate them.

Your podiatrist will carry out a thorough physical examination of your feet. He or she will be looking for deformities and joints that are particularly painful.

Such a doctor is likely to ask you to perform a range of activities using your feet and ankles, including walking and specific exercises.

There may be a need for special imaging or various pads on the walking surface. The resulting images will highlight exactly how and where each foot strikes the ground and will enable the doctor to determine the precise location of the problems in relation to the function and structure of your feet and ankles.

They might also advise conventional medical imaging of each foot, for example, an MRI, bone scan or X-ray. Such medical images can help the doctor to identify sections of damage, arthritis, or injury.

A podiatrist will use all diagnostic methods available to them when making recommendations about further treatment options, including the prescription of customized orthotics.

What medical condition can orthotics treat?

Doctors can prescribe orthotics for the treatment or management of a range of medical conditions.

Here are some examples:

• Arthritis: Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause significant discomfort in a patient’s feet, not to mention poor positioning, which orthotics may be able to help correct.

• Back Pain: Oftentimes, poor foot positioning, like lack of cushioning or inward rolling arches, can result in pain that orthotics can minimize.

• Bunions: Bunions describe pain bumps that can grow at the root of big toes and lead to foot deformities. Orthotics consisting of wide toe boxes can help to alleviate pressure on big toes.

• Bursitis: Fluid-filled sacs on the toes on in the heels can become inflamed causing bursitis pain. Orthotics with heels and flexible arch support can go a long way to minimizing bursitis pain.

• Diabetes: In many cases, an individual who has diabetes can lose a lot of sensation in their feet. This is a condition referred to as diabetic nephropathy. When such a condition occurs, one of the best treatments to minimize pressure and stress and reduce susceptibility to foot ulcers is orthotics.

• Hammer Toes: Hammer toes typically occurs as a common side effect of big toe bunions. They cause pain in other toes and deformities to the ball structure in the foot. In a bid to provide additional support to a foot and decrease the chances of hammer toes worsening, orthotics can be used.

• Heel Spurs: Heel spurs encompass a condition in which excess bone material develops on the bottom or back of the heal. Orthotics can be used to reduce inflammation and provide some much-needed foot support.

• Flat Feet: Flat feet can result in significant back, ankle and foot pain. Orthotic devices can be used to offer support to feet and encourage correct foot positioning.

• High Arches: High arches can lead to stressed feet muscles and result in a multitude of other conditions, like knee pain, plantar fasciitis and shin splints. To prevent an individual’s feet rolling inwardly or outwardly excessively, orthotics can be used.

• Injuries: Individuals who undergo any type of trauma to their feet or ankle bones often require additional support from orthotics to aid the healing process.

• Plantar Fasciitis: Heel pain is commonly caused by plantar fasciitis. Physicians often prescribe orthotics for heel and foot support. Medical professionals may recommend bespoke orthotics for individuals suffering from positional concerns surrounding their legs or feet. Conditions can often involve underdeveloped foot or leg muscles.

Why do orthotics help?

Orthotics are a common part of treatment protocols for a wide range of ankle and foot issues. For instance, a physician might recommend orthotics to be used in conjunction with various other treatments including physical therapy exercises and supportive footwear.

Another common recommendation from doctors for such issues it NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), like naproxen sodium and ibuprofen, for pain relief and inflammation reduction.

Medical professionals often prescribe orthotics be used to complement other treatments, as orthotics alone can rarely correct incorrectly positioned feet.

For example, if feet overpronate, they roll noticeably downward or inward. This is often the case among those with extremely flat feet. To avoid such a condition from getting to a critical point, orthotics can be worn to offer additional arch support.

Orthotics can also provide cushioning and extra support for key areas of the foot, such as the ball or heel. Since orthotics are bespoke devices, the person manufacturing them will always take into account an individual’s unique footwear requirements.

In a perfect world, orthotics, alongside other non-invasive treatments, help sufferers to avoid the need for surgery. They can also be stylish as these Vionic Sandals show. The Vionic Casandra Sandal is a really nice flip-flop style update that is on-trend and features Vionic’s supportive comfort.

Orthotics For Feet Types

There are seemingly endless customizations for orthotics. A doctor will recommend an orthotic material as a result of the specific symptoms and conditions of the patient.

When it comes to orthotic material types, they are range from rigid – typically manufactured from plastic or carbon fiber – to cushioning, which includes materials that are flexible and accommodating.

Some orthotics take the form of full-shoe inserts, not unlike mainstream athletic shoe insoles. Meanwhile, others take the form of a small heel insert that can fit into the back cup of a range of shoe types.

Ankle-foot orthotics provide further options that go beyond shoe inserts, as they provide extendable support to the lower calf.

Doctors might prescribe orthotics to be used in conjunction with braces, shoe inserts, or kinesiology taping.

Do orthotics really make a difference?

Orthotics can’t universally provide all those suffering from foot and ankle conditions with help.

There are a lot of complex elements surrounding the use of orthotics to take into account, including:

• The physician’s prescription.

• The experience and talent of the individual manufacturing the orthotic device.

• The everyday footwear choices of the sufferer.

• How often an individual uses the orthotics

There are many studies that show that orthotics are an effective treatment option for a wide range of ankle and foot problems. That said, it should be noted that the orthotic needs to be worn correctly and well-fitted.

The Takeaway

There is no reason why orthotics shouldn’t form part of an extensive treatment plan for those suffering from foot and ankle issues. But, they aren’t for all and sundry and can be out of budget for those without comprehensive medical insurance.

If your doctor prescribes orthotics, it’s wise to ask probing questions about what kind of pain relief and results you can expect if you commit to wearing the devices routinely.

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