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The benefits of Orthotics.

Custom orthotics are individualised inserts that are used to treat pain and ongoing complaints of the legs, feet and knees. They replace the existing insoles in your shoes whether it’d be for work, sport or casual footwear.

Controversy arises between health professionals as to whether orthotics are needed for treatment. Some health professionals argue that they are needed to go along with other treatment modalities to reduce pain and improve the function of the foot, while others say they are unnecessary and restrict range of motion. Here we investigate the rationale behind prescribing orthotics and how (if you need orthotics) they will help you get back to what you love doing the most.

In podiatry, custom orthotics are prescribed for common lower limb injuries, such as heel pain, patellofemoral pain in the knee or lower back issues. They work together with soft tissue therapies, strengthening and rehabilitation programs, to take the load off affected muscles and ligaments, allowing them to be healed and rehabilitated properly.

One test to use in practice to see if a patient will benefit from orthotics is to perform strapping of the foot and leave this on for a few days. This type of strapping is specific for a patient with a flat foot. If this person finds relief from the pain they are experiencing, then they will benefit from a custom orthotic to go along with their tailored rehabilitation program.

Frequently asked questions regarding Orthotics include “are they necessary?” and “can over – the – counter insoles from a pharmacy be used instead?” The question then arises as to why a patient would have to go down the path of custom orthotics? The differences between the two lies in their design. A custom orthotic will contour a person’s arch specifically for themselves and will have modifications to treat the pain that a person presents with. An ‘over – the – counter’ insole has the same arch contour and design for all their insoles and only changes their shape based on the size of a person’s foot. Compare this to the analogy of prescription glasses compared to ‘over – the – counter glasses’. One is specifically made for your eyes whereas the other is not.

This is not to neglect ‘over – the – counter insoles’. For some people, depending on their levels of activities or workload, an ‘over – the – counter’ insole is more than adequate. However, for ongoing chronic lower limb injuries where a person has been wearing ‘over – the – counter’ insoles and pain still persists, custom orthotics may be recommended to further offload the affected muscles.

Overall, custom orthotics are not for everyone, but will benefit those people when used and prescribed correctly. If you have custom orthotics or are experiencing issues with your feet, knees or lower back, allow the team at Insync Physiotherapy to help you. You can contact us on (02) 7226 3432 or book online here.