When it comes to many things, “custom” is special.

Think of a car, for example. A custom paint job. Custom seats. A custom engine. Perhaps something automatic. Systematic. Hydromatic.

Sorry, where were we?

“Custom” almost always means more of a cost than something mass-produced. In the case of a car, this choice is usually more of a luxury. But when it comes to custom orthotics for your feet, they are an important factor in addressing the specific needs you may have regarding your condition and lifestyle.

You can still call yours “Greased Lightning” if you want, though.

Just What is a Custom Orthotic?

An orthotic, simply put, is a device placed in a shoe to provide support and aid in proper distribution of pressure over the foot. The goal of an orthotic is to improve the function of the foot, preventing overload and fatigue and manage or treat current foot and lower limb conditions, or help prevent problems from developing.

Custom orthotics can be beneficial for a variety of conditions. They are commonly used as a treatment for heel pain from conditions such as plantar fasciitis. They can provide support and management for conditions such as bunions and hammertoes. Also, many other conditions are effectively treated with orthotic management.

Isn’t an Over-The-Counter Insert Good Enough?

One-size-fits-all inserts purchased in a store are not always ineffective. There are a few cases where one may provide some comfort for the wearer.

However, this is quite uncommon. Many times, these types of inserts may only provide limited or no relief. In some cases of misaligned foot structure or foot deformities, there’s even a risk of the problem becoming worse!

An orthotic can’t be applied to foot pain the same way a Band-Aid can. For best results an orthotic should be designed specifically for that individual, addressing their unique needs.

A custom orthotic is a prescription. It’s based upon identifying the treatment needed.

It’s not enough to know there is pain or discomfort at hand. The cause of the pain must be properly diagnosed. The best orthotic solution can vary from patient to patient.

How so? In general, orthotics come in two types:

  • Functional Orthotics are designed to affect movement. This is important when pain is caused by an abnormal foot structure (e.g. high arches, overpronation) or when treating injuries such as shin splints or tendinitis, when excess force should be directed away from points of stress. These orthotics tend to be made from semi-rigid materials such as plastic or graphite.
  • Accommodative Orthotics are built to provide support and cushioning to sensitive areas. Hence, they tend to be made of more flexible materials such as foam, rubber, or leather. Accommodative orthotics may be prescribed to help take pressure off areas that are prone to developing calluses, are susceptible to diabetic ulcers, or are hot spots for other causes of discomfort.

So when a custom orthotic is recommended for a foot problem, everything from its shape to its material to how thick certain areas are all depend on not just the diagnosis, but the needs of the patient as well! A pair of orthotics for an athlete may be different from a pair of orthotics for an office worker—even if they have the same type of condition!


What Can I Expect if I am Prescribed Custom Orthotics?

Every good diagnosis naturally starts with an examination, and an appointment at Preferred Foot & Ankle Specialists is no exception.

In addition to a physical examination of your foot and ankle, Dr. Jarman may also examine your gait (the way you walk) to determine whether any biomechanical factors are contributing to your pain. We have technology made just for this.

You may also be asked questions regarding your work lifestyle and level of activity. If there’s anything else you feel might be important to bring up, please don’t hesitate to do so!

If a custom orthotic is recommended, it may not be the only type of treatment involved. Stretching, medications, or other treatments may compliment orthotic management.

A plaster mold will be made of your feet in order to have a foundation from which to create the orthotics. These molds will then be sent to a lab where the orthotic is made to the exact specifications of your prescription.

You will return to our office for a fitting. Some adjustments might be necessary at first, but orthotics should ultimately feel natural and comfortable quickly.

Since custom orthotics are made of quality materials, they should last several years with proper care. We recommend a two month follow up and returning once a year to see how your orthotic management is going.

Custom Treatment—Whether You Need Orthotics or Not!

Custom orthotics are just one way we may address foot and ankle pain our patients experience. However, we seek to treat everyone with the individualized care they should expect and deserve.

Our office in Gilbert is now open Monday through Friday. If you’d like to make an appointment, call us at (480) 497-3946 or contact us via our online form.