Orthotic devices are used for attaining the proper alignment of soft tissues and bones. As externally applied devices, they work to structurally and functionally support the muscular and skeletal systems of the body.
- Over-the-counter orthotics don’t provide the same support
- Custom orthotics are tailored to your feet only
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An orthotic device can be used to control, guide or limit the movement of a joint or body part. They may also be used to limit movement to just one direction. In specific instances, an orthotic reduces the weight-bearing forces imposed upon a body part. Orthotic devices are also used to facilitate recovery after a fracture or surgery. Patients with pain or impaired movement may use them to reduce discomfort. They can also be used to prevent pain.
How Orthotics Work
An orthotic device for the foot (or foot and ankle) may be custom-made to fit a patient’s foot. This is done to support the foot and prevent pain or reduce the risk of injury. Custom-made orthotic devices are made by taking a plaster or resin impression of the foot and sending it to a lab. The lab then makes the proper size and curvature of orthotic device for the patient to wear in his or her shoes.
These devices work by lowering pressure on weight-bearing parts of the foot such as the heel or ball. They may raise or lower a specific part of the foot to absorb some of the shock that comes with each step. An example would be a full arch orthotic that extends to the ball of the foot. This device supports the arch of a patient with plantar fasciitis.
An orthotic device that is used for recovery after an injury might not be custom-made. They may instead work to hold the foot and ankle in place to prevent an overextension of weak ligaments, tendons, or muscles. An example is a night splint that is worn to stretch the plantar fascia while a person sleeps.
Conditions for Which Orthotics Are Used
Orthotic foot products are used for many different conditions. They can be used to reduce pressure on ulcers in patients with diabetes. In people with plantar fasciitis, the inserts are worn within the shoes to provide support and reduce stretching and tearing of the plantar fascia. A patient with heel spurs may wear a heel cup that absorbs the shock from walking. People with neuromas or sesamoiditis may wear a ball of foot protector to absorb shock and impact in the ball of the foot and on the big toe.
Orthotic inserts are also used for patients with flat feet, fractured metatarsal and tarsal bones, and disorders of the great toe. They may also be used for an ankle sprain or a sprain of the big toe.
Who Is a Candidate for Orthotic Inserts?
If you have foot pain, you are a candidate for orthotic inserts. Athletes may use them to prevent injuries and pain in their feet. If you have diabetes, your orthopedist may prescribe orthotics in order to protect your feet from neuropathy, ulcers, and swelling of the tissues.