People who have foot, ankle, knee or even back pain can sometimes benefit from using custom orthotics in their shoes. Problems with the feet can translate into problems in other areas of the body, such as the back, if they aren't corrected. Different types of orthotics can help with different conditions, so it's a good idea to see a podiatrist for a diagnosis before purchasing any inserts.
Orthotics can help to properly align the foot and the ankle, providing support and helping to improve the way the foot functions. They also help prevent or correct some types of deformities of the foot. While some people think of orthotics as mainly for older people or people with foot deformities, they can also help improve athletic performance in some cases by reducing impact and fixing any slight misalignments that may be present in the feet. Whatever the reason for the orthotics, they are often combined with other changes, such as wearing a different type of shoes, to increase the potential benefits.
Custom orthotics can sometimes help to limit pain and discomfort in people with hammertoes, flat feet, high arches, bunions, plantar fasciitis, diabetic foot problems, arthritis in the foot and stiff big toes (called hallux rigidus). Orthotics may also be helpful for runner's knee problems, pain in the forefoot and neuropathic ulceration. They can help with the pain from constantly wearing high heels or from having a job that requires you to stand all day long.
Types of Orthotics
Orthotics may be the length of the foot or cover just the heel or the toe area. Some conditions are better treated with a stiff orthotic, while others benefit from the cushioning of a softer orthotic device. Athletes may benefit from semi-rigid orthotics, which contain both softer and more rigid layers to provide a combination of foot positioning and cushioning.
Custom Versus OTC Orthotics
In some cases, over-the-counter orthotics may be enough to help with a problem. However, in others, custom orthotics are necessary. Visiting a podiatrist can be helpful as they can advise you on just what type of orthotics are needed and whether OTC ones will work. There are a number of advantages to custom orthotics, including the fact that they can be made to suit various types of shoes and are custom fit to your feet, which isn't the case with OTC versions. While custom orthotics are much more expensive, they also tend to last three to five years, versus just three to six months for OTC orthotics. This means that the cost may be worth it in the end and even save you money.
For more information, visit sites like http://www.yourfootdocs.com.