Do you have questions about custom orthotics? We have answers.

Do you have questions about custom orthotics and how they can solve foot pain? Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider provides the answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the use of custom orthotics. If you would like to schedule an appointment , call Tanglewood Foot Specialists at (713) 785-7881.

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  • How should a mold be taken to make a custom orthotic?

    A custom orthotic must, in some way, be designed for you specifically. That's what makes it custom, after all. There are many ways to accomplish this and they are not created equal.
    Some orthotics are direct molded. Meaning there is a template orthotic for your size that becomes pliable when heated. You then step on the orthotic while it cools to make it best fit your foot. This is a step up from a generic, off the shelf insole, but does not provide much in the way of mechanical correction.
    Another way of capturing a mold of the foot is using a foam impression box. You step into the foam and compress it into a mold of your foot. This can result in a good mold but the quality often is variable. It varies based on the skill and attention of the technician taking the mold to ensure your foot is properly placed. There is much room for error and we only utilize it for specific types of orthotics...generally softer custom insoles provided for use by our diabetic patients.
    A newer and very promising method of taking a mold is a 3-D scanner. Unfortunately, the scanner still isn't providing the quality and depth of an image that will provide a superior orthotic. For that reason, we take a plaster mold of your foot at Tanglewood Foot Specialists. A plaster mold captures your foot in these most efficient and stable position and ensures an effective orthotic is made.
    An orthotic is only as good as how well you are evaluated in the office. Learn how a properly designed custom orthotic can do for you by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider for a comprehensive evaluation.

  • Aren't Dr. Scholls insoles just as good as a custom orthotic?

    There is a difference between a custom orthotic and an insole you can buy off the shelf. Even with OTC insoles, there is a significant difference between them. Some are very flexible and others provide more support with a flexible plastic interior.
    Even more confusion occurred when Dr. Scholls introduced their automated kiosk in retail stores and billed the insoles as "custom-fit orthotics." This scanner is simply sizing and grouping your foot type into one of a very few broad categories and then recommend the best generic insole for you. A salesperson is equipped to make the same recommendation.
    At Tanglewood Foot Specialists, a custom orthotic is much more! Dr. Andrew Schneider performs a comprehensive biomechanical exam and gait analysis to learn how efficiently your lower extremity works when you walk and run. We then take a mold of your feet in the most efficient and stable position. The orthotic device is then constructed specifically for you.
    If you have tried many insoles that just don't seem to work for you, contact Dr. Schneider to schedule an appointment and see how much better you'll feel when provided the right orthotic.

  • 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.

    At Tanglewood Foot Specialists we now carry Revere sandals. These suportive Australian sandals provide superior comfort and support. Even better, the footbed of the sandal is removable and a custom orthotic can be constructed to fit seamlessly into the sandal. If you are reliant on a custom orthotic, these will be your best choice.

    If you are having trouble fitting your orthotics into shoes or sandals, bring them to Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider for an immediate evaluation.

  • 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.