What is a foot orthotic?
A foot orthotic is a device that fits discreetly in your shoe to provide support, and align the foot and lower limb into a more efficient position to better manage loads and forces.
Just like eyeglasses help improve vision, orthotics help to support and restore foot function to reduce and eliminate pain. Orthotics can help treat a wide range of conditions from foot pain, to arthritis, to diabetic ulcers and neuropathy.
How do I know if I need foot orthotics?
Not everyone requires orthotics, but if you are experiencing foot or lower limb discomfort, abnormal shoe wear patterns or are diabetic an assessment with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist can be valuable in giving you the tools to overcome and prevent injury.
3 signs you may require orthotics:
1. Pain / Injuries - For tissue injuries such as plantar fasciitis or arthritis, an orthotic could provide the support necessary to help manage the load and alter the forces causing the pain. Pain is a good indication that a tissue is overloaded and in some instances a foot orthotic can help manage that load.
Since we inherited our foot structure from our parents, genetics can play a role in foot pain. Different foot structures can predisposed someone to suffer from a certain set of injuries. But just because you have a certain foot type doesn't necessarily mean that you require an orthotic. Those that pronate excessively (arch falls inwards), an orthotic can help control the excessive amount of pronation and prevent excessive force placed on certain structures. People with high arches can suffer an opposite condition, a foot that’s high-arched tends to be more rigid making it poor at attenuating shock, and having little surface area of the foot bearing weight causes those areas in contact with the ground be loaded with greater force.
2. Abnormal Shoe Wear - Shoe wear is a reflection of the repetitive function of the foot. Shoe wear patterns can provide useful clues as to how someone moves. It is normal to wear out the heel just to the outside of the midline of the shoe; that's where you want to make contact with the ground. But, if excessive wear is seen on just one heel or if wear is seen on the inside edge of the heel or if heavy wear is seen to the outside edge of the heel it can be an indicator of abnormal biomechanics. Removing the insole from the shoe and looking at the wear pattern can show where you bare your weight, deep impressions in any particular area show where you like to put your pressure. The upper mesh or leather part of the shoe can show if you excessively pronate (arch falls) or supinate (arch rolled out) based on if the upper of the shoe sits vertically or has been pushed in or out. Shoe wear patterns can provide clues to biomechanics, if you wear out shoes asymmetrically or notice your shoes breaking down quickly in one spot an orthotic may be helpful in redistributing pressure throughout the foot.
3. Diabetes - those suffering from diabetes have an increased risk of developing corns and calluses, which can affect skin integrity and if left untreated can result in diabetic wounds. Orthotics can be helpful in evening out the pressure distribution on the foot reducing the development of corns and callus formation.
Pedorthic services are not covered by OHIP, but most extended health care insurance plans cover orthotics or at least a portion of them if prescribed by a doctor.