How Often Do I Need to Replace Custom Orthotics?

When people get new foot orthotics, they want to know how long they will last. This is a very individual issue. We normally say that depending on the size and weight of the person, their activity level and how much they wear the appliances, they should get 2-5 years from them. Of course, there are many variables. Some people will have more than 1 pair and by dedicating them to different footwear they will get better longevity out of the devices. Since orthotics may be made from different materials a softer more accommodative pair may not wear as well as a firmer more functional set. These differences are due to the treatment plan. For example, we might use more flexible materials for sports applications or a disease process such as diabetes or arthritis. Or we might use stiffer materials to treat an alignment issue or to support a heavier person or a bigger pair of feet.

Obviously, since orthotics are custom made there is the potential for great variation, even between left and right on the same person. A person with size 6 feet will respond differently and need a different level of support from an individual with a size 14. Sometime the same person may have firmer devices for work and more flexible ones for exercise and activities. Sometimes the opposite may be the best way to go. The individual, their history, problem, and condition will dictate the formulation. It is important for you to know and trust the provider. Were the devices made by the provider or by a Lab? Can the provider repair, revise or update the orthotics?

We see old orthotics in many states of disrepair. They can be dog chewed, left too close to a heat source, and melted, held together with duct tape or rendered useless by continuous wear. Most times with repeat clients we will also fix up their old orthotics (if we can) so that they have a backup pair. Even though the newest ones should be your primaries, the backups could be useful in hunting boots, gardening shoes or even orthotic friendly sandals. Sandal orthotics can be very handy not only in the hot weather, but in the house at any time. Many people wear their orthotics for all their waking hours and find that once they are used to them, they do not want to be in the house without them on hard floors or climbing stairs.

For people who use their appliances for balance and stability it is important to make sure that the devices fulfill those functions. As you wear them, they will change and become compressed or go out of alignment. If you start to feel wobbly or have a resumption of pain symptoms check with your provider to see if they should be revised or replaced. Frequently the shoe is the culprit and I have often found that one or both shoes that are distorted or excessively worn can undermine a good orthotic. As we age, confidence in our gait, balance and stance may be what saves us from a fall or a repetitive stress injury. Remember your ounce of prevention.

Posted in , , , , on March 20, 2024