Foot orthotics, arch supports, insoles … these devices have just as many names as they have appearances.
The problem for the consumer is: Am I getting what I need to make my foot or other pain go away?
The first step is to make sure that you talk to your doctor about the problem you are having. Your doctor will know who in your area is qualified to dispense foot orthotics. Pedorthists, Podiatrists and Orthotists are the three main professions that provide these devices.
Orthotics have many shapes and sizes, and the provider can tell you which type will be most useful for your condition. An orthotic for a dress shoe may be nothing like one made for running shoes. The analogy I use is that they are much like eyeglasses, except you must walk on them. Like glasses, orthotics must be worn to provide correction.
Many people I talk with have heard conflicting stories of good or bad experiences with these devices. In the end, you must feel comfortable with the person who is evaluating and measuring you for the orthotic. They should take a thorough history and ask about injuries and illnesses you may have suffered and have a bearing on your postural health. They should manipulate your feet to judge mobility, strength, flexibility, and function.
Measurements that the clinician takes will be used to fabricate the support, and they will tell you, during this process, what to expect and how to use the device.
Orthotics hold the wearer’s feet in the best mechanical position for the transmission of forces and provide optimum bone/joint alignment. Soft tissue and repetitive stress conditions such as Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain) and Metatarsalgia (forefoot pain) respond well to orthotics but often take some time to resolve.
Recovery may require other methods such as Physiotherapy, exercise, or advice on how to perform your normal activities in a less stressful manner.
Asymmetry is the most common cause of muscle imbalance, acquired disability and mechanical pain. You may have come by these imbalances through inheritance (My mother had bunions, and so did my Gram.) or from injuries (motor vehicles, ice falls) or illness (diabetes, arthritis).
If you experience acute, episodic, or chronic postural pain, do not wait too long. Often, conditions that are easily resolved can drag on for months if not treated quickly. The sooner you do something about it, the quicker you can get back to your regular activities.
More questions than answers? You can get information on orthotics, footwear and Pedorthic services at Thera-Ped Foot and Ankle Clinic (506) 632-9397.