Orthotic Program at CORE Orthopedics
What is an Orthotic?
By definition, a custom made foot orthotic is a medical device made to control the way your foot functions. There is a significant amount of literature that can scientifically detail what a foot orthotic should be, how they should be diagnosed, and how they should be manufactured. At the end of the day, you, as the patient, have only one thing in mind--making your feet and overall body feel better.
A properly prescribed and manufactured foot orthotic inserted into your shoes will correct abnormalities in your bio-mechanical function (the way your body moves), thus reducing pain, providing support, and preventing these deformities from progressing with age. Keep in mind that foot orthotics not only alleviate foot pain but are effective in treating hip pain, lower back pain, and knee pain that are a result of these mal-alignments in your lower body.
Choosing the right Orthotic
At last count, there were over 150 orthotic manufacturers in the U.S. alone. These include custom orthotic laboratories and pre-fabricated, off the shelf orthotics you can purchase at your local grocery or shoe store or right off the internet. You will also find a broad range of people claiming they are qualified to prescribe your orthotics. Since orthotics change the way you walk, you should consult a professional who has the proper training to both evaluate and design the right orthotic for you, such as your Physical Therapist. Remember, an orthotic is a medical device.
You should strongly note that the wrong orthotic can actually worsen your condition or create problems that previously did not exist. You will also find that the cost of orthotics ranges greatly, from $20 grocery store versions to high priced fully custom types. Unfortunately, you don’t always get what you pay for in this case! We have heard many stories from patients who have paid up to $600 for orthotics that simply don’t work. The best way to be confident in your purchase is to choose the right practitioner with the proper training and experience.
There are two basic types of orthotics - accommodative and functional.
Accommodative orthotics are designed to simply shift your body weight away from the painful area but are not designed or intended to correct the underlying problem. These orthotics are typically made of a soft material and are referred to as 'soft orthotics'. Functional foot orthotics are designed to specifically correct the abnormality and are the type of orthotic that will provide the highest level of correction and relief.
There are two types of functional orthotics; rigid and semi-rigid. Rigid orthotics are made from a firm material such as plastic or carbon fiber and are designed to aggressively correct the mal-alignment in your lower extremity. Despite what you may have heard, nearly all patients tolerate these rigid materials very well. For those patients that cannot tolerate rigid orthotics or require additional cushioning (such as athletes), the orthotic manufacturer can add additional layers of padding or use a semi-rigid material. Custom made orthotics are just that--custom designed to your individual foot; pre-fabricated orthotics are mass produced to fit an average foot and do not properly correct your specific problems.
How will my practitioner determine if I need Orthotics?
The first thing your practitioner will do is review your medical history and conduct a very thorough 'bio mechanical evaluation'. This evaluation will include a series of detailed measurements not only on your feet but on your lower body as well. These measurements are critical in the design of your orthotic and cannot be under-emphasized.
You will find that there are various methods used by practitioners to cast or, mold, your feet. Some practitioners utilize seemingly sophisticated, high tech digital scanning systems; some will have you step in a foam box; some will try and sell you something off the shelf without casting you at all. Don’t be fooled. Many of these methods do nothing more than tell the orthotic manufacturer what size foot you have!
We strongly recommend your practitioner make a plaster mold of your feet taken in a non-weight bearing position. Once this plaster cast is completed it is sent off to the chosen orthotic lab with the biomechanical evaluation and relevant patient medical information for manufacturing.
Questions to ask your practitioner
- What training and experience do they have in conducting bio mechanical evaluations for foot orthotics?
- What training and experience do they have in casting for foot orthotics?
- What casting method do they utilize?
- Which orthotic lab do they purchase from?
- Will your orthotics be pre-fabricated or fully custom made?
5 steps to determine of Foot Orthotics are for you
A comprehensive medical examination is performed by our medical staff to determine an accurate diagnosis and the need for custom it orthotics.
A Bio-mechanical Evaluation
Will be preformed by our highly trained staff to identify your specific foot mal-alignments. This will be followed by a casting technique which will be used in the fabrication of your custom orthotic.
Digital Imaging of your foot in weight bearing and walking mode is preformed and analyzed to determine what type of orthotic and what form of correction will best manage your condition.
Dispensing Custom Orthotic
This includes your retrieval of the orthotics as well as an office visit.
This visit we will check the orthotics for any adjustments needed and/or fitting issues.