Persistent or chronic foot pain can have many potential causes, but one in particular towers above the rest: poor biomechanics. No two sets of feet and ankles are exactly alike, and many contain structural flaws (flat arches, for example) or gait abnormalities (such as ankles that roll too far inward) that make them more prone to pain and injury.
Custom orthotics are often the best treatment for chronic foot pain, whether it occurs in the heels, arches, balls of the feet, or even further up the leg. These devices, when inserted into shoes, help cushion, support, and realign feet to reduce painful pressure and improve natural biomechanics without surgery.
At Advanced Foot and Ankle Centers of Illinois, all our doctors and offices specialize in creating high-quality, custom-molded orthotics for a variety of needs and diagnoses.
Why Custom Orthotics?
Custom orthotics should not be confused with cushioned insoles available at your local drugstore or supercenter. These prefabricated, mass-produced inserts—when selected properly—can provides some relief for minor foot aches and pains. However, they will not perform as well as custom orthotics, and they cannot be used to correct substantial biomechanical flaws or cure long-term foot problems.
Because custom orthotics are built to fit a specific individual exactly, they can correct a much wider variety of more serious biomechanical defects. All custom orthotics we prescribe are custom-molded using a high-resolution 3-D scan of your own two feet. This allows us to be more precise with fitting than “old-school” plaster or box molds. We will also, of course, perform an extensive biomechanical evaluation of your feet, ankles, and legs to determine your specific pathology and what type of orthotics you will need.
Are They Really Worth the Cost?
It is true that custom orthotics are more expensive than what you can find off the shelf. However, the value is substantial. Not only will you feel better, but custom orthotics that are well cared for can last much longer than cheaper substitutes—in some cases by many years. Furthermore, they can often be repaired, adjusted, or refurbished rather than replaced. This both extends their useful lifespan and keeps them working as well as possible. Finally, many insurance providers will help pay for custom orthotics, either partially or fully.
Types of Custom Orthotics
Although custom orthotics can be made in a variety of shapes and materials and with different features, they tend to fall into two broad categories.
- Accommodative orthotics accommodate a structural foot flaw by providing extra cushioning and support. You can think of these as the “upgraded” version of more basic, off-the-rack insoles. They are usually made from soft materials, and work like shock absorbers for your feet. They are often used to help treat and prevent diabetic ulcers, arthritis, foot deformities, and other painful conditions.
- Functional orthotics are built to improve and correct improper or abnormal motion in your walking gait. They are usually constructed from semi-rigid materials (like graphite or plastic) in order to keep feet and ankles within a healthy alignment as you move, although they may also feature softer cushioning.
If nagging foot pain is interfering with your day-to-day life, book an appointment with your local office of the Advanced Foot and Ankle Centers of Illinois. Our team of specialists can determine if custom orthotics are an appropriate solution to your pain—and if so, help you fit the perfect pair. You can request an appointment online, or call the office closest to your location to schedule.