Orthotics is a branch of medical science that deals with the manufacturing and application of a device – commonly known as an orthotic – to correct the alignment of the neuromuscular and skeletal system. Orthotics design relies on knowledge of anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and engineering. Available for both upper and lower limbs, orthotics have multiple medical uses in addition to relieving sore feet, including:
- assisting the movement of a joint in a particular direction
- immobilizing the extremities to reduce weight bearing forces on the joints
- aiding rehabilitation after a fracture
- providing correct shape and function of body and reducing pain to optimize sporting performance
Orthotics provide support that appropriately distributes force while aligning the foot and ankle joint in the anatomically correct position, which aids in walking, running and standing. People of all ages who suffer from sore feet, heel pain, hammertoes, knee and back pain benefit from orthotics. They are particularly effective to help prevent diabetic patients from developing foot ulcers. In the past, plaster molds were used to create a custom fit for each patient, however now a computerized foot analysis is used that more accurately reflects the dynamic of each individual patient’s gait.
Foot orthotics are composed of a footpad fitted into a shoe, and can also include heel inserts, ankle braces and other support devices.
- Heel Insert: Includes a wedge inserted into the inner side of the soles to support flat feet and relieve sore feet
- Ankle Foot Brace: Relieves the pain of rheumatoid arthritis in the heel and ankle
- Heel Flare: Prevents ankle sprains
- Heel Cushion: Absorbs and relieves stress on heel and ankle while running and walking
- Toe separator: Used for corns and calluses between the toes
- Soft Orthotic Cushion: Distributes pressure on the foot evenly
- Wide Shoes or a Pad Under the Bones of the Forefoot: Relieves pain in the forefoot
- Full Length Lower Limb Orthotics: Corrects lower limb deformities
- Prefabricated Heel Insert: Made of silicon or rubber, these orthotics relieve heel pain or spurs
- Full-Contact Cushion Orthotics (with deep cushion and rocker bottom soles): Help diabetic patients prevent foot ulcers by reducing pressure on the foot
- Shoes with a Wide Toe Box: Used for patients who suffer from hammer toes and bunions
- Sport Orthotics: For runners and athletes, these full-length, soft devices help reduce stress and prevent feet from turning inward.
The type of orthotic that your orthopedic doctor recommends will depend on your symptoms, the causes, and shape of your feet. When used correctly, orthotics help to realign the foot and ankle, correct deformities, relieve sore feet and improve the overall function of the foot and ankle. However, incorrect fit or use can change the mechanics of the patient’s gait and cause new problems rather than curing existing ones.
Patients should always consult an orthopedic physician before buying or using an orthotic device.
Image courtesy of tiverylucky / FreeDigitalPhotos.net