Custom-Made Orthotics in Birmingham, AL
Feet carry our weight around throughout most of our lives. They allow us to walk, run, hop, skip, jump, kick, dance, play sports, and a lot more.
Even so, it's easy to forget they're exceptionally complex feats of biomechanical excellence. With how often we take them for granted, the irony is we appreciate our feet every time there's a problem.
From bunions to plantar fasciitis, foot problems are common precisely because our feet are so complex and involved in so many activities. The silver lining is podiatrists have become better at dealing with those problems.
We can help you in many ways. Sometimes, you may need surgery. Sometimes, you may need medication. And sometimes, all you need is a pair of custom orthotics.
What Are Custom Orthotics?
Custom orthotics are prescribed by podiatrists, sports medicine doctors, and other types of foot specialists. They are custom-made to address your individual condition involving the foot, leg, and possibly back (some back pain can be caused by foot and leg issues).
Orthotic insoles are mostly custom molded and designed specifically to fit inside your shoes. They can support the entire length of your foot or just the heel. Insoles help correct your foot's position, which eliminates pain and restores movement.
Orthotic inserts are commonly used in regular footwear. However, in more extreme cases, full shoes or orthotic boots may be required to correct a condition.
The key to the application of orthotics in treating disorders of the feet, legs, and back is analyzing the source of the problem and designing the custom foot orthotic to address it. No two feet, not even your own, are identical. To ensure the best correction of the problem, the orthotic used must be exact for a custom fit.
Types of Custom Orthotics
There are many different types of prescription orthotics, but they can be broadly divided into three main categories:
- Rigid (or functional orthotics). Mostly used when pain is involved, these types of orthotics are made from hard materials (such as plastic or carbon fiber). They're usually prescribed to reduce pain in the feet, legs, or lower back by correcting certain foot abnormalities. Functional orthotics are often worn with dress shoes, walking shoes, or work shoes.
- Semi Rigid Orthotics. Commonly prescribed to more active people. These devices are made of soft materials and reinforced with hard materials. This complexity allows them to support the foot and correct abnormalities while offering more flexibility in movement during sports.
- Soft (or accommodative orthotics). As the name suggests, they're made of soft materials. Soft orthotics help with shock absorption and balancing issues. They provide extra cushioning and are used to take the pressure off certain vulnerable or sore spots.
Once you've been examined and diagnosed, your doctor will prescribe custom orthotics appropriate for your condition. Which type of orthotic device you're prescribed will depend on several factors, such as your condition and level of activity.
Benefits of Custom Orthotics
Personalized orthotic devices offer various benefits compared to the store-bought stuff you can get at your local pharmacy.
They can save you money.
You can find some pretty cheap over-the-counter orthotics on the internet. So how can custom orthotic devices, which are decidedly more expensive, save you money?
When you buy over-the-counter insoles for self-treatment, you're probably also self-diagnosing. However, you may not always get your diagnosis right so you end up spending money on stuff that doesn't work, waste time, and make your condition worse.
Even if you do self-diagnose correctly, not all orthotics were created equal. You may end up wasting hundreds of dollars buying insoles and shoe inserts that don't work for you.
Prescription custom orthotics, on the other hand, are made specifically for your condition, your feet, and your shoes. After a careful examination and diagnosis, we can get it right the first time. Instead of looking for more solutions, you'll be free to focus on getting better.
No one will even know you're wearing them.
Most custom orthotics fit perfectly inside your shoe. This means it's unlikely you'll have to sacrifice style for effectiveness (unless your shoes are causing your condition).
Unfortunately, this doesn't apply to braces and more complex orthotic devices. However, if you have to wear those, your condition is probably serious enough that you won't care too much about aesthetics.
They can offer pain relief.
Foot pain is incredibly common. In fact, a survey conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association found more than 50% of Americans have lost days at work due to foot problems.
Foot pain caused by foot fatigue is the most common. Biomechanical foot problems are another common issue. This is where things get worse - biomechanical issues can lead to knee pain and even back pain. A custom orthotic device can offer almost immediate pain relief by addressing these problems.
Custom-designed orthotics help your feet work the way they were always supposed to. They are made with your unique foot, condition, and even bone structure in mind.
They can spare you the surgery.
If caught in time, many conditions can be treated with the help of purpose-built orthotics. Otherwise, the condition progresses and becomes more severe. After a certain point, surgery becomes the only viable option. Orthotics help you avoid this scenario.
They can speed up your recovery.
Custom-designed orthotics can help you even if you've already had surgery. They can speed up your recovery, protect your feet, and prevent the recurrence of certain conditions.
Who Should Wear Custom Orthotics?
People who suffer from certain conditions should think about custom foot orthotics. These conditions can include:
- complications of diabetes (such as diabetic foot ulcers)
- bunions and hammertoes
- high arches or flat feet
- heel spurs
- back pain
- plantar fasciitis (heel pain)
- Achilles tendinopathy
While we've mostly covered medical conditions, custom shoe inserts and insoles can be used preventively by people with healthy feet. They're perfect for people who spend a lot of time on their feet and want to spare themselves the pain of dealing with foot problems.
Another group that may greatly benefit from personalized orthotics is athletes. Shoe inserts and custom insoles can help optimize their performance and reduce the chance of injury in case of small irregularities. These irregularities are usually small enough to go unnoticed but can become a huge problem when you least expect it.
How Are Custom Orthotics Made?
Dr. Linde will make a thorough exam of your feet and bone structure. He'll do a 3D scan and then design custom orthotics specifically for your condition. From there, the insoles will be made using advanced technology and when they are ready, the inserts will be fitted to your specific foot.
Not sure if custom-designed orthotics are the right fit for you? Schedule an appointment and after a thorough examination, we'll help you decide.