Orthotics come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, anything that straightens or supports anything in the body is an orthotic. Braces to straighten the teeth are orthotics as is a knee brace. In podiatry, when we refer to an orthotic, we are talking about a custom insole that provides efficiency and stability to the foot and ankle. Many disorders of the foot, such as heel pain, Achilles tendonitis, and stress fractures originate from an instability in the mechanics.  A custom orthotic device is useful to balance the lower extremity to allow the inflamed areas to heal and stay pain-free.

There are those who don't believe that orthotics work. Some feel that an arch support from the drug store works just as well as a custom orthotic device. In fact, a recent article in the New York Times quoted biomechanics experts, such as Dr. Benno Nigg, who question why orthotics work so well.  Various studies that were run shows inconsistencies in the materials and methods for evaluating a patient for orthotics, taking a mold of the foot, and the characteristics of the orthotic itself.

I agree with the article that there are varied methods of evaluating adn casting for an orthotic and a wide range of materials to use. Not all orthotics are created equal, either. Success and outcomes do not lie, however. Custom orthotics provide relieve and prevent injury. Whether it be published studies or patient feedback, this is clear.

In our Houston podiatrist office, we take great pride and care when evaluating you for an orthotic. The doctor starts with a comprehensive lower extremity biomechanical examination, looking at various range of motions and relationships from your lower back to your feet. We also perform a visual and digital gait analysis, to objectively examine how you walk. Finally, a mold is taken of your feet in a neutral position and a prescription is developed based on the information from the examination. Does everyone spend this amount of time evaluating for an orthotic? No...but they should.

If you think orthotics are right for you, but just haven't had the success you would have liked in the past, give us a call to see how a custom foot orthotic is done right...guaranteed!
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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