Custom Orthotics Frequent Asked Questions


Oakville Custom Orthotics Frequent Asked Questions

What are foot orthotics?

Orthotics, also known as arch supports or shoe inserts, come in a variety of types, shapes and materials. There are over the counter (OTC) orthotics and custom-made orthotics. These devices can then be further subdivided into accommodative orthotics and functional orthotics.

Will orthotics correct my foot problem?

Orthotics will control the position and motion of your foot. This should help prevent the development of pain, disability or additional deformity. Wearing orthotics will not change the underlying structure of your foot.

Can orthotics be used for athletic activities?

Absolutely. Orthotics may be appropriate for most activities, including sports which do not involve excessive impact on the feet. Sports which involve considerable ground impact may require sport-specific orthotics. These sports could include running, basketball, high impact aerobics, tennis, racquet sports, skiing and golf. Given the high-impact nature of the activity, sports orthotics may require fabrication from more resilient materials which dissipate some of the excessive force.

Why should I get a custom orthotic when I can buy a prefabricated orthotic at a pharmacy, at a lower cost?

Over the counter (OTC) orthotics are readily available in many drug and shoe stores and should be inexpensive. They are a compromise in arch height and support in order to cater to a wider range of people. Some patients may get relief using such OTC devices, however, they are often inadequate in that they do not provide sufficient support, shock absorption, or a proper fit. Custom orthotics are produced for your feet specifically, and can better address the needs of each patient.

What conditions do orthotics help alleviate?

Orthotics are commonly prescribed by podiatrists to help with hammer toes, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, callouses, corns, metatarsal problems, bunions, diabetic ulcerations and numerous other problems. They also help to minimize shin splints, back pain and strain on joints and ligaments.

Approximately how much do orthotics cost?

Custom orthotics typically are priced at around $450 – 600 per pair. This represents a case fee which includes a range of motion study, gait analysis, casting and three months of follow-up. The prefabricated (non-custom, over the counter) models are much less expensive, but they are also not custom-fit for your feet, and are not necessarily made of the same high-quality materials.

What type of preparation goes into making orthotics?

Custom orthotics are produced for your feet specifically and can better address the needs of each patient. In order to make a set of custom-made functional orthotics, several assessment methods are utilized, to help the doctor understand how your foot functions.

The initial fitting is done during an appointment with the doctor. It then usually takes about 2-3 weeks for the devices to be fabricated and shipped back. The patient then returns to the office to be fitted. Adult patients are typically followed for three months after the receipt of the orthotics, making sure the devices are functioning properly and the patient is well adjusted to the devices prior to discharge. Occasionally modifications are necessary to “fine tune” the orthotics, most of which are done in the office.

What is the approximate lifespan of a pair of orthotics?

Orthotics are made of a variety of materials and sometimes a single device may be made from three or even four materials. The material(s) the device is made out of is one of the most important factors as far as durability is concerned. The softer materials usually wear out the quickest and may need replacement every 1-2 years. This does not mean the orthotic needs to be replaced. The orthotic simply needs refurbishing which is much less costly and time consuming. Material such as polypropelene which is commonly used is extremely durable and can last a lifetime. Graphite can fatigue fracture in 2-3 years particularly when used in high impact sports or when worn by very large people. All orthotics automatically come with a six month warranty against breakage.

The time to replacement also depends on how often you wear the orthotics, and the level of activity during the time you are wearing them. For instance, if you only wear them to run for 30 minutes per day, that’s different than wearing orthotics all day, every day at work. As a general rule, custom orthotics that are worn every day may need to be replaced every 2-3 years to stay 100% effective. Those that are worn only for occasional sports activities could last years.

Children who require long-term orthotic use usually get between 18-24 months of use out of a set of orthotics before they are outgrown. The amount of time depends upon when they were casted relative to their growth phases.

How do you take care of a pair of custom orthotics?

To clean your orthotics, you can wash them with warm water and mild soap, and allow them to air out if they do not have a top cover. If they have a top cover it can be gently washed in Woolite. Exposure to sunlight is also cleansing and help purge odor if the patient is prone to perspire. Do not expose your orthotics to high heat.

How long does it take to get used to orthotics?

Because orthotics use comfortable materials, and are shaped following the natural curves of your feet, it usually takes no more than two weeks to get used to them. Many people find their new orthotics to be comfortable immediately after they are inserted into their shoes. Most people start with three hours the 1st day and add one hour everyday thereafter until they have achieved full wear time. Athletic activity in the devices usually can commence after 3-5 days of use.

Probably not. Some shoes just will not fit properly with an orthotic inside, for example women’s dress shoes. If you need to wear orthotics all the time, the doctor may be able to help you with some suggestions regarding shoe styles. Your orthotics will typically be designed to fit in your most important footwear, the footwear you wear most often, or the footwear for a specific activity. Dress shoe orthotics are also available for the “career woman” who have multiple shoe needs. These devices are a compromise and typically do not provide as much support and control as conventional custom-made functional orthotics.

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