First of all, what are orthotics? Orthotics are custom made devices that fit inside your shoes and improve the function of your feet and ankles. You can think of them as “glasses for your feet.” Just like a pair of glasses causes your eyes to function in the proper way, a pair of orthotics improves the function of your feet and ankles. It also decreases pressure on the bones and skin of the foot, decreases pain and aligns the joints of the foot, ankle and knee.
What aren’t orthotics? Orthotics are not soft, gel or foam things that you can bend with your fingers. For an orthotic to work it must put your foot into a position that your foot does not want to go. During walking, all your weight is on one foot at a time. Imagine all of your weight on a soft, gel or foam device. It will flatten to nothing and will not improve the function of your foot.
Are orthotics comfortable? Absolutely, when they are made properly you don’t even feel them in your shoes. The only way that a pair of orthotics will be strong enough to work and yet comfortable enough that you will actually wear them, is to have them custom molded exactly to your foot.
But what about the ones you can get at the drug store from “the machine” or from the “foot store?” Collectively, the doctors of Sarasota Foot Care Center have been practicing medicine for well over 65 years. Not only do we know how to get you the true orthotic you need, but we will be there to help you down the road if anything happens and adjustments are needed. Try that with the “machine” or the “foot store.”
But aren’t they expensive? Expensive is when you pay good money for something and get no results. We don’t care if the so-called orthotics you can get at the shoe store only cost $60 dollars, they won’t help you. So is $60 dollars for a worthless pad a good deal? I don’t think so.
A pair of custom orthotics will last for about 3-5 years. It will improve your foot function and decrease your pain. Is that worth two installments of $225? How much does your heel hurt? How much would you pay to get out of the bed in the morning without that stabbing, shooting pain? How much would you pay to be able to exercise and finally lose those pounds you need to?
In these very sensitive economic times we completely understand priorities. If the decision is food or orthotics…that is a very simple decision. Another question you have to ask yourself is if you can afford not to get orthotics? Can you afford to miss more work because of your foot pain? Can you afford to take 6 weeks off because of a possibly avoidable surgery? There is not one golfer we know that would not pay that cost to shave a few strokes off of their game. How much easier would tennis be without the pain in the ball of your foot?
What foot conditions do orthotics treat? Orthotics treat a large group of conditions that all stem from the movement of the muscles and bones of the foot. These conditions include, but are not limited to: heel pain, heel spurs, flat feet, “fallen arches,” bunions, neuromas (pinched nerve in the foot), painful corns and calluses under the ball of the foot, sore feet and ankles, tendonitis and joint pain.
What will happen if I need orthotics but I don’t get them, can I do permanent damage to myself? Yes you can. Flat feet are genetic and are usually noticed early in life. If untreated, the excess pressure and abnormal wear and tear on the joints can lead to severe arthritic conditions and loss of function. Heel pain is ultimately a problem with alignment and no amount of stretching or cortisone shots will cure the problem with out addressing the underlying alignment issues. In fact, all the conditions that are treated with orthotics have a major alignment component to them. Leaving this alignment uncorrected only leads to further pain and loss of function. It is critical to correct the root cause of these conditions and the root cause is the deranged alignment. Orthotics are the only thing that can correct this alignment problem.
Will I have to get bigger shoes to fit the orthotics? No, you should not need a larger size to fit your orthotics. Most athletic shoes have a removable foot bed that will create the room needed to fit the orthotics. The same goes for most lace-up loafers or boots. In fact, there are some sandals that have a removable foot bed and work with orthotics as well. There are, of course some shoes that will not work with orthotics. High heels and flip-flops come to mind immediately. Have no fear. If you wear the orthotics when you are most active, occasional flip-flops and high heels are acceptable.
If you have been experiencing pain or soreness in your foot, what are you waiting for? Biomechanical problems, which is to say bone, muscle and joint problems, do not just heal themselves. You would never expect your vision to miraculously improve and you should not ask for miracles with your feet either. If your feet have been hurting you, or you have been watching someone you care about suffer with foot pain, stop waiting and get the pair of orthotics you need, today.
Committed to your health,
Dr. Craig Conti
Sarasota Foot Care Center