Do you have questions about foot care? We have answers.

Do you have questions about foot injuries or the causes of foot pain? Tanglewood Foot Specialists provides the answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about foot injuries and foot care. If you would like to schedule an appointment to talk to a doctor about your foot pain, call Tanglewood Foot Specialists at (713) 785-7881.

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  • What can happen if an orthotic is recommended and I never get one?

    People have many reasons why they don't pursue a particular treatment. Sometimes it's financial, sometimes a similar treatment at a previous doctor had failed, other times a friend or family member had a poor result.

    A custom orthotic is designed to balance your mechanics and provide efficiency for the foot and ankle. Without an orthotic, the lower extremity remains unstable. If you were treated for an overuse injury, such as heel pain or Achilles tendinitis, you have a much greater chance for the problem to return to where it was prior to treatment. If you have a foot deformity, such as a bunion or hammertoe, it will get progressively worse to the point where surgery is required to remedy it completely.

    There is always a short-term fix in medication. Think of an orthotic as a long-term investment to ensure a complete and thorough recovery.

  • Can an orthotic be worn in a sandal?

    An orthotic does not fit well into most sandals. Typically, a closed heel counter is required for the orthotic to not slide out. Some of my Houston podiatry patients have used Velcro or double-sided tape to hold an orthotic in with varied results.

    There are some sandals specially designed to accommodate a custom orthotic. These include Aetrex, Bite, Finn Comfort, and Naot. They have a removable footbed that can be replaced with a custom orthotic. Also, select Birkenstock and Naot sandals can be custom made from a mold of your foot with an orthotic built in.

  • Can I wear an orthotic in a dress shoe?

    A custom orthotic can absolutely be worn in a dress shoe. Men are usually able to fit the same orthotic that they use for a running or tennis shoe into their dress shoes. Because of the vast difference between an athletic shoe and a woman's dress shoe, a different orthotic is often necessary for women. An orthotic for a woman's pump, flat, or hi-heel will be thinner, narrower, and more flexible to allow both the orthotic and the foot to fit comfortably into the shoe.

    The main criteria for an orthotic fitting into a dress shoe is that the back of the shoe, or heel counter, is closed. An orthotic does not work well in a sandal, clog, mule, or slide, unless they are made specifically to hold an orthotic.

  • What's better, a full or partial length orthotic?

    Custom foot orthotics typically come on three lengths: to the ball of the foot, to the sulcus beneath the toes, and full length. Choosing between the three is personal preference. The functional part of any orthotic is the plastic shell, which ends before the ball of the foot. Any length past that is only additional padding.

    An orthotic with an partial or full-length extension for padding is suitable for those who need some extra cushioning or accommodation for a painful callus. The downside of a longer orthotic is that it fills up more of the shoe, sometimes requiring a larger shoe size. When an orthotic is made to the ball of the foot only, it has all the function of a full length orthotic, but does not require a longer or wider shoe. It is for that reason that this Houston orthotics specialist and foot doctor prefers a device to only extend to the ball of the foot.

  • Is a hard or soft orthotic better?

    There are many different philosophies on how to evaluate for an orthotic, as well as the types of orthotics that are best. Different materials and degrees of flexibility have their uses. When it comes to custom foot orthotics, there is no "one size fits all" possible.

    Most of the functional orthoses that I prescribe in my Houston foot and ankle clinic is comprised of a plastic shell. The reasoning behind that is to provide stability and efficiency to the foot and ankle, the device itself must also be stable. Don't worry, because the orthotic is made JUST FOR YOU from a mold of your foot, they'll fit your feet perfectly and won't feel any hardness when you step on them.

    A softer, more flexible orthotic also serves a purpose. This type of orthotic is used for diabetic patients and people who need more cushioning and support to the bottom of their feet. Due to the wearing away of the natural cushioning beneath the feet, the bones become more prominent and develop calluses. In diabetics, this can lead to the skin breaking down and causing ulcers. A soft orthotic, also custom, transfers the weight from those areas and prevents the callus buildup.

    Schedule an appointment at our office to see which type of orthotic is right for you.

  • What is an orthotic?

    An orthotic refers to anything that straightens a body part. When a podiatrist refers to an orthotic, it means a custom insole made specifically for a patient with a prescription to address any biomechanical instability. The goal of a custom orthotic is to provide efficiency and stability to the foot and ankle, allowing it to function as optimally as possible.

    Inefficiency and instability is a primary cause of foot pain, such as heel pain and Achilles tendinitis, and deformities of the feet, such as bunions and hammertoes. By using a custom orthotic to restore stability to the foot and ankle, inflammation and pain can be controlled and deformities can be prevented from getting worse. After surgery, a custom orthotic will help to return stability to the foot and prevent deformities from returning over time.