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Pedorthic Terminology

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When I consult with patients I always encourage them to stop me at any point if I say something they don’t understand. This is important, as pedorthic treatment is most successful when patients have a clear understanding of my assessment and recommended treatment. Despite my encouragement, some patients are still reluctant to tell me when they need further explanation.

If you know you will be too shy to ask detailed questions at your coming pedorthic appointment, here are some terms Canadian Certified Pedorthists commonly use during consultations:

  • Biomechanics – How your muscles and skeletal system work when you move.
  • Foot orthotics/orthoses – A medical device that fits discreetly into your everyday footwear to modify the movement pattern of your feet and lower limbs so standing and moving is more comfortable.
  • Gait analysis – When a Pedorthist observes your lower limbs when you walk or run to determine if there are any concerns with alignment, movement patterns, and symmetry.
  • Orthopaedic footwear – This footwear has unique features such as the type of material it is made from, style of closure, special sizing including extra depths and widths to accommodate or correct foot disease and more.
  • OTC (over-the-counter) – Refers to mass-produced orthotics, shoes or bracing that are available in groceries and pharmacies across Canada.

Shoe modifications can make a world difference to your comfort and mobility but many patients find the names of modifications and parts of the shoes particularly confusing. Referring to the list below before and after your appointment will help: 

  • Balloon Patch – Material that is added to the top or side of the shoe to accommodate a bony prominence such as a bunion or a hammer toe.
  • Buttress – Material is added to the midsole, outsole or the top or side of the shoe, to strengthen the support available through the midfoot.
  • Excavation/Well – Material is dug out of the insole of a shoe to reduce pressure on painful or injured areas. Sometimes the well is filled with soft material to provide cushioning to the tender area.
  • Flare – Material is added to widen the base of support of the shoes.
  • Sole Lift – A prescribed amount of height is added to one or both shoes.
  • Shank – The firm, stiff, portion of the shoe between the heel and ball of the foot that supports the arch.
  • Toe Box – The reinforced portion of the shoe that covers and protects the toes.
  • Heel Counter– The material forming the back of the shoe. It may be used to stiffen the material around the heel and give support to the foot.

These terms will come in handy during your pedorthic consultation, however, they are only a starting point. Canadian Certified Pedorthists are committed to making you feel and move better. As a member of your healthcare team, your Pedorthist is there to answer all of your questions so don’t be hesitant to ask.

By Alyssa Milton, C. Ped (C), Cambridge, ON

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