Begin a search for “orthotics,” and you will find any number of solutions made specifically for the foot and the ankle. However, orthotics or orthotics bracing exists for a much longer list of limbs and issues, and though standardized orthotics may do the trick for the mildest complaints, it is custom orthotics that make a world of difference to someone suffering pain, discomfort, or limited mobility.
What Can Orthotics Be Used to Treat?
It might astonish you to read that custom orthotics solutions exist for:
As you can see, they can be used to relieve certain body parts of pressure or give them some strengthening support after surgery or post-injury. They are, typically used for only a short period, but if it is a chronic complaint (such as arthritis) or one that leads to pain if left unattended, a custom orthotic might be a long-term solution.
Naturally, their role in supporting healing and recovery is important, but that is not the only benefit to custom orthotics. They will also boost mobility and function. They will usually improve the patient’s quality of life on many levels because they offer pain relief and because they can even speed up healing and recovery. They are known, too, for reducing the overall costs of treatment because they directly address the issue that led to the use of the custom orthotics in the first place, and allow the patient to use the limb, move more fluidly, and live pain-free over the long term.
A Closer Look
We see that there are many issues treated with orthotics, but there are some fairly common “types” of orthotics used to address those complaints and conditions. They include:
Are Orthotics Alone Enough?
The experts at Healthline say that orthotics are often one part of a treatment regimen, and so a physician may combine a prescription for an orthotic alongside regular occupational or physical therapy. They might also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers to support healing and help boost mobility and strengthening.
Medical experts will usually combine treatments in this way, and rely on custom orthotics to do the traditional work of the individual’s muscles and tendons (and even the bone) until their bodies can handle it. For example, a patient with the condition known as overpronation may suffer knee issues because of the intense, inward rolling of the inside or arch of the feet. The orthotics can be used to address that flat-footedness and overpronation, but they will also be part of the treatment for knee replacement or knee surgery of some kind.
If you were wondering if their help is authentic, the experts would say that they are not a universal treatment. There are some with quite complex issues that orthotics alone won’t help, and which may provide only temporary support or relief. However, the prevailing belief is that they do help those with a long list of issues and conditions, and especially if the use is consistent and in line with the other therapies and modalities.
Dr. James P. Ioli, of Harvard University says that orthotics are recommended when “muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, or bones are not in an optimal functional position and are causing pain, discomfort, and fatigue,” and that they should be made of the appropriate materials for the task. This is the only way to get the performance, results and pain relief desired.
Can Custom Orthotics Alleviate Pain?
The experts at PainScience have this to say about orthotics: “Foot, ankle, knee and hip biomechanics are complex. Extremely complex. It’s not rocket science — it’s actually much harder. And gait analysis is an art as well as a science… Orthotics should not be prescribed without a thorough examination,” and always by experts.
So, it is the professionally-made, prescription, custom orthotics that will serve the patient best. As that same pain group warns, “many orthotics sold to consumers may not be worth more than the clay the mold was made from.” In other words, skip that store in the mall promising that its amazing “foot scanner” or other “orthotics device,” will give you a medical-strength insert to alleviate pain during exercise or movement.
Dr. Ioli of Harvard agrees, saying that there are “three types of foot orthotics: over-the-counter/off-the-shelf orthotics; ‘kiosk-generated’ orthotics; and professional custom orthotics.” He notes that the first two are suited to only the mildest issues because they are usually sold based on such metrics as shoe size or by the “problem” such as “for arch pain,” or “for those with Achilles tendonitis,” and so on. He explains that they “may help with heel pain, lower back pain, general foot discomfort, or for a specific sport,” but it is the custom orthotics that are the most reliable.
As noted, the custom orthotics are the result of a thorough health history performed by a medical expert. They look at essentials like height and weight as well as most common activities, and then the medical conditions being treated. They consider the diagnosis and then choose from the best materials.
The most common are “rigid, semirigid, semiflexible, or accommodative, depending on your diagnosis and specific needs,” and it is the prescribing physician who will know the best for the specific complaints and concerns.
They take molds or impressions, providing a truly bespoke fit and function. The industry average turnaround time for custom orthotics is three weeks. Fortunately, there are some solutions that can provide fully customized orthotics in as little as 24-48 hours using inhouse production facilities.
Are Custom Orthotics for Everyone?
If you read through the list of conditions treated by custom orthotics, you would see that almost anyone might reach a point in their life when a custom orthotic can help with healing, recovery, performance, or pain relief. However, there are many who tend to benefit from them on a regular basis. For example, Dr. Ioli said that “people with diabetes who have loss of feeling in their feet, people with poor circulation, and people with severe foot deformities caused by arthritis,” really must pair with a good medical team and get the kind of support essential to healing.
Often, a premium therapeutic facility will look at custom orthotics as a way of offering a surprisingly rich continuum of care. For example, you might be receiving some sort of PT for an injury, and the person who does your treatment may also evaluate you and make your bespoke orthotics or order it for inhouse production.
Generally, medical experts will say that people of average foot type, average height and weight, and with one of the more common, or even “generic” issues (general heel pain, for example), can benefit from an over the counter or kiosk option. They can use them as “starter” orthotics in order to keep their initial expenses low. However, it is incredibly important to pay sharp attention as to whether or not the orthotics actually do provide relief. If they fail to yield any sort of comfort, or things actually worsen while using them, it is time to visit an expert.
Finding an Optional Solution
So, if you have any of the conditions itemized above or you just live with chronic pain in one of the limbs or areas identified, it could be a wise idea to visit an expert for an evaluation and a discussion about a custom orthotic.
They will perform a thorough evaluation in advance of any recommendations, and then use quality equipment to fit you with the ideal support for your needs. They take impressions, create a device, and ensure it is fitted properly. The team at Motus Rehabilitation can do this all in a 24-48 hour window of time. Their experts will provide you with your full evaluation and then custom make your new orthotic for you. That is not the end of your care, however, and you can rest assured that you will continue to receive the kind of healing attention necessary.
As a partner in the process of rehab and recuperation, you receive an optimal treatment plan that includes your therapies and training, but also any sort of supportive devices, including fully-customized orthotics that will be made quickly and inhouse, before being fitted and tested for function. Comfort and happiness with the orthotic is the goal, along with advanced healing and recovery.