An orthotic is a device designed to restore your natural foot function. Many biomechanical (walking) complaints such as heel pain, knee pain, and lower back pain are caused by poor foot function. Orthotics re-align the foot and ankle bones to their neutral position, thereby restoring natural foot function.
A podiatric physician can prescribe orthotics—foot supports worn inside shoes—that are crafted for you and no one else; they match the contour of your feet precisely and are designed for the way you move. Only prescription orthotics can accommodate your unique foot structure. Podiatric physicians use orthotics to treat foot problems such as plantar fasciitis (heel pain); bursitis; tendinitis; diabetic foot ulcers; and foot, ankle, and knee pain.
If orthotics are needed, your podiatric physician will capture a three-dimensional image of each of your feet. That image, as well as any measurements obtained by your podiatric physician, is used to create a set of unique foot supports that will improve your foot movement and lead to more comfort and mobility.
There are two categories of prescription orthotics. Functional orthotics are designed to control abnormal motion and may be used to treat foot pain caused by abnormal motion; they can also be used to treat injuries such as shin splints or tendinitis. These are usually crafted from a semi-rigid material such as plastic or graphite. Accommodative orthotics are softer and meant to provide additional cushioning and support. They can be used to treat diabetic foot ulcers, painful calluses on the bottom of the foot, and other uncomfortable conditions.
If you have serious pain or discomfort, schedule an appointment with a podiatric physician. He or she will assess your overall health and look at any other contributing factors. Your podiatric physician can examine your feet and ankles, prescribe custommade orthotics or, suggest additional treatments to improve the comfort and function of your feet.
Information graciously provided by the American Podiatric Medical Association