Why Should I Use Foot Orthotics?

By Moses Jacob, DC
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Foot Orthotics

Foot Orthotics Overview

Mechanical or anatomic abnormalities can cause a combination of foot problems. These may affect the ankle, or other joints including the same sided knee, hip and even the lower back Occasionally the altered mechanics of the of the lower extremity at the ankle, or altered positions of the anatomic structures of the fool may produce secondary reactive effects at the knee or hip. Properly crafted orthotics may provide stability for the foot and correct injury-causing imbalances. Orthotics also provide cushioning or stress reduction at the plantar ( bottom of the foot) structures.

Mechanical joint dysfunctions may lead to a variety of difficulties including ankle pain, foot or toe pain, or plantar fasciitis. Conditions which may be treated by orthotics also include: sport injuries, e.g. running, hiking; diabetic related nerve sensory loss AKA neuropathy; bony disorders such as foot arthritis or metatarsalgia; Anatomic over pronation, which commonly refers to a turning of the foot in and downward.

Foot pronation may result in excessive internal rotation of the lower limb bones ( Tibia and Fibula). In some instances this may also result in a secondary strain at both the joints of the lower back (facets ) sacroiliac joints.

Heel pain may also be treated by such devices which may offer additional arch support with a cushioning material. Other conditions treatable, include knee joint pain, knee cap or patello-femoral pain, inflammation of the leg muscles AKA shin splints and Achilles tendinitis and even bunions.

What is a Foot Orthotic?

A foot orthotic is an artificial device or brace. Functional orthotics are prescribed by trained clinicians including chiropractors, orthopedic specialists and podiatrists. A custom foot orthotic is a shoe insert device, often made from a mold such as plastic or foam.

The purpose of such inserts is to align the foot and ankle into the best anatomically functional or corrected position.

Types of Foot Orthotics

  • Prefabricated shoe inserts made of cushioning shock absorbing plastic material : Sorbothane
  • Custom molded plastic or leather and plastic shoe inserts
  • Hard plastic molded shoe inserts most often used by Podiatrists.

How does a Foot orthotic Work?

Most commonly by offering a shock absorbing cushion during standing, running or prolonged walking. In theory foot orthotics are designed to alter the pattern of the various forces including strike/heel pattern, muscle action and other anatomic structures.

When needed wedges may be added to the medial or lateral sides of the insert to correct for excessive pronation or supination from anatomic or mechanical misalignments.

Caveat: These devices dot not help all individuals nor prevent injury. Professional consultation with trained experts is advisable. Exercises and strengthening programs with trainers are also recommended.

Supportive literature: Does the use of orthoses improve self-reported pain and function measures in patients with plantar fasciitis? A meta-analysis. Lee SY1, McKeon P, Hertel J.

Conclusion of Foot Orthotics: The use of foot orthotics appears to be associated with reduced pain and increased function.

Supportive Literature for Foot Orthotics

  • Low Back Pain foot orthotics for the Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study Jerrilyn A. Cambron, DC, PhD, Manuel Duarte, DC, Jennifer Dexheimer, BS, LMT, and Thomas Solecki, DC Conclusions This pilot study showed that the measurement of foot orthotics to reduce low back pain and discomfort after 6 weeks of use is feasible. A larger clinical trial is needed to verify these results.
  • Does the use of orthoses improve self-reported pain and function measures in patients with plantar fasciitis? A meta-analysis. Lee SY1, McKeon P, Hertel J.

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