Orthotics. For many, they are “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” (To quote Churchill). They are a constant source of debate amongst orthotic specialists and industry heavyweights. Their use is often seen as controversial. The information surrounding orthotics is often confusing and hard to understand for the consumer. And the fact that so many people have a draw full of devices that they don’t wear is a testament to how easy it is to get wrong.
So, what is orthotic therapy? How does it work? Why are their so many different types? How do you know if it is the right treatment for you?
Orthotics are a device which is designed to alter the function of your foot. Their primary function is to reduce foot pain and joint pain. They do this by addressing an underlying biomechanical problem. Identifying what that problem is and how to manage it is where the skills and experience of your clinician comes into the equation. Sometimes the solution may involve making the heels perpendicular to the ground when you are standing, however good foot function is so much more. Good orthotic therapy should combine:
- Reducing the stress on tissues
- Good appreciation of muscle function and joint position
- An appropriate choice of orthotic material for the type of shoes
Orthotics do not always need to be replaced every year. Everyone is different. Factors like foot shape, walking surface, weight, age, footwear and activity all affect the wear and tear of your device. The material that the device is made from will change depending on your needs, the presence of arthritis and the activity you do. Different orthotic shapes will reflect this need as well. Some devices need extra depth, some need covers, some need to actively pronate the foot-the variations are extensive.
So how do you know what is right for you or if indeed your device will work? Simple. Your podiatrist will explain what is causing your pain, what your treatment options are (orthotic and non-orthotic) and work in partnership with you to achieve the best outcome for you. At Hinkler Podiatry our team understand that communication and explanation are more important to you than the material your orthotic is made from. As Churchill may have said, you should be “easily satisfied with the very best”.
Below are photos of just a few types of Orthotics.