Dr's. McNamara & Richman
899 Outer Road, Suite C
Orlando, FL 32814
Orthotics are shoe inserts that functionally correct an abnormal, or irregular, walking pattern. Generally called arch supports, this term is not correct as arch supports are accommodative in nature and do not provide functional control of the feet. Orthotics on the other hand allow people to stand, walk, and run more efficiently and comfortably.
Podiatrists sometimes prescribe orthotic devices to correct an abnormal walk, or gait, and often for patients following surgery to aid in preventing recurrence of deformities.
Shoe insert devices come in many shapes and sizes, and materials and fall into three main categories: those designed to change foot function, Orthotics, are primarily corrective in nature, and then there are those that combine lesser degrees of functional control with varying degrees of accommodation.
Rigid Functional Orthotics
The so-called rigid orthotic device, designed to control function, is often composed of a firm material such as plastic or carbon fiber, or as we use, a composite of these. They are used to improve the bio mechanical purity of the feet and can be used for athletics, walking or dress shoes. In the old days such orthotics were made from a mold after a podiatrist took a plaster cast. The state of the art now is to capture an image of the foot with a laser, measure and correct the image to high degrees of tolerance, and to then have them computer machined. This new technology brings savings, increased value, greater accuracy, and greater longevity. We were the first in the nation to use this technology in 1991 and are still the only user of it in Florida.
Functional orthotics control motion in all foot joints and reduce the stress delivered to the joints and tissues of the lower extremities and back. They may improve or eliminate strains, aches, and pains in the legs, thighs, and lower back.
Soft Accommodative Orthotics
Soft orthotics usually absorb shock, and take pressure off uncomfortable or sore spots. They are typically made up of soft, cushy materials. Soft orthoses also are worn against the sole of the foot, extending from the heel past the ball of the foot, including the toes. Such orthotics are also made from a mold after a podiatrist takes a plaster cast or other kind of image of the foot.
Soft orthoses are usually effective for diabetic, arthritic, and rigidly deformed feet.
Semi-rigid Hybrid Orthotics
Semi-rigid orthotics provide foot balance for walking. Sometimes, different activities call for different kinds of semi-rigid orthotics. The typical semi-rigid orthotic is made up of layers of soft material, reinforced with more rigid materials.
Children are sometimes given orthoses to treat flatfoot or in toeing or out toeing disorders. Athletes often are given orthoses to mitigate pain while they train and compete.
While over-the-counter orthotic inserts help people with mild symptoms, they normally cannot correct the wide range of symptoms that prescription foot orthoses can since they are made to fit a person with an "average" foot shape.
Beware of the retail outlet selling "Orthotics". In our experience they are never functional or custom.