What you need to know about Orthotics

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What you need to know about Orthotics


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It’s Dr. Sheth and I have been getting asked a LOT of questions about orthotics these days. I figured I’d share my answers with all of you.

What’s the difference between custom orthotics and over the counter versions?

Custom orthotics are medical devices specifically molded to your foot as it is being held in a functional position by your doctor. Not only is the shape of the device based on your foot, but the materials are also chosen by your doctor along with any other modifications based on your particular needs.

There are many different types of over the counter inserts made with different materials. Some are made for the general population trying to offer support for the majority of feet out there. These may or may not work for you. Your doctor at Foot and Ankle Associates can help you figure out what type of device you need and which type of over the counter may be most appropriate for you.

Why do I need orthotics if I’m not really outside or going to the gym?

Your feet are hardworking! They move you around from place to place, and they don’t really notice if that activity is in or outside your home. I bet you’re not just sitting around, so your feet are noticing the mileage even though you are not doing any “formal” activity. You should be tailoring your shoe wear based on how much work your feet are doing. If you know you’re doing a lot on your feet, then you should be using your shoes and orthotics. You do not want your original issue starting up again!

How often should I be replacing my orthotics? How do I know if they are broken down?

Unless your feet start hurting, it’s hard to tell if your orthotics are doing their job. By then it’s too late! I like to see adults every 1 year and kids every 6 months to make sure the orthotics are still fitting properly. Often, we can repair them in the office to get more life out of them. Once they are broken down, it’s hard to make them work again and then the only option may be replacing them. However, if your device is still functional, you may be able to have them refurbished to get them back in action again.

How many pairs should I have?

This is really a personal decision. There are a lot of different reasons why someone would get additional pairs. Some people want the convenience of not having to transfer their orthotics. Some sweat a lot and want to “air out” their device between uses. And some, have different shoes for different purposes, and so want to have something for each activity. While there is no single right answer, I want to emphasize - do not try to make one pair do everything - it will not do anything well.

Why can’t one pair do everything? How can I choose?

Different orthotics have different purposes, so trying to make one pair do everything may affect the performance of your device. For example, a slimmer trimmer device might be able to fit into more things, but is not as supportive as a more bulky device with more cushioning. If you only spend weekends hiking but you wear your loafers for more hours sitting, it may make more sense for you to have a “workhorse” orthotic for your hiking shoes. You are doing more “work” in them.

If I want more than one pair, what’s the best way?

If it’s your first orthotic, then I recommend you try them out for a bit to see how they feel. Try to put them into your other shoes and see if you feel like you wish you had something different. Why do you want another pair? For similar shoes? For a different type of shoe? For a different activity? This will help your doctor when making you another device. If you are getting the same pair, I recommend getting a different color, so you can keep track of the devices.

If it’s been less than 2 years, and your doctor determines that your foot hasn’t changed since your casting, you may be able to use the same molds to press a new pair. (This would be at a discounted price, since the molds are already made.)

If you have any questions about orthotics and what is right for you, our team at Foot and Ankle Associates can help you figure it out!

Take care and use your orthotics!
Dr. Sheth

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