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July 2015

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How long does it take to adjust to a new orthotic?

Every day I see individuals with a wide range of conditions, from very simple and straightforward to very complicated, involving a wide scope of medical practitioners. I also see patients who have never had orthotics to individuals who are being assessed for their tenth pair of orthotics.

The most common question I hear during an appointment is “how long will it take me to get used to my orthotics”. Unfortunately this is never an easy question, nor a straight forward question, to answer as everybody adjusts to orthotics in their own time. However, it usually takes about two weeks to get used to wearing an orthotic.

When my patients come for a fitting appointment, I make sure I have the contact and control I am striving for, the foot feels comfortable on the orthotic and the orthotic fits into the patient’s footwear. During the break in period for your first pair of orthotics, things will feel different day to day as your soft tissue gets used to having pressure in different places and the tissue gets used to being in a more mechanically efficient position.

To comfortably break in a new orthotic, I recommend my patients wear it for an hour on day one, two hours on day two, and continuously progress each day so that by the end of the two weeks, they can wear the orthotic comfortably all day. Due to the nature of soft tissue, a number of people are able to comfortably wear their orthotics right away. The break in period is very much a “listen to your body” time. If things are feeling good, wear them longer each day, even all day.

The second most common question I get is, “How do I know if I need an adjustment?” If you have never had an orthotic, it can be difficult initially to know if an adjustment is needed, especially during the first two weeks as your body needs time to get used to it. And even after two weeks, your foot may still need some time to adapt. The best way to know if an adjustment is needed is the duration of your discomfort. I tell my patients if an area is in pain for one day but it is not painful for the rest of the week, something prior caused the inflammation and the orthotics aren’t the cause. However, if you have pain every day of the week following the onset of the initial discomfort, the soft tissue is interacting with your orthotic incorrectly and it needs to be adjusted.

Orthotics are great devices but they do need a break in period to become comfortable. If your orthotic is causing you discomfort after two weeks, contact your Canadian Certified Pedorthist and book an appointment to see if any changes are necessary. As orthotics are custom made to fit your feet perfectly it is not unusual to require some adjustments in the early days.

By Steve Stredulinsky, BSc KIN, C. Ped (C), Abbotsford, BC

When Should I See a Pedorthist?

I have worked as a Canadian Certified Pedorthist for 10 years but I continue to be surprised by the number of patients I see who have delayed pedorthic treatment for months, needlessly living with pain or decreased mobility. When I ask these patients why they waited so long, many say they believed the pain and reduced activity were simply things they had to live with.

If you are unsure if you should book a consultation with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist, ask yourself the following questions:

• Are you experiencing pain in your heels, forefeet, toes or ankles?
• Are you suffering from unexplained pain in your back, hips or knees?
• Are you living with diabetes or arthritis?
• Is discomfort in your lower limbs preventing you from participating in all the activities you would like?
• Do you have difficulty finding footwear that fits comfortably?
• Are the wear patterns on the soles of your everyday shoes uneven?
• Have you experienced a serious foot or lower limb injury?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions you should definitely seek pedorthic treatment.

As foot orthotic and orthopaedic footwear specialists, Canadian Certified Pedorthists provide a wide range of services to help patients with an extensive array of foot and lower limb conditions. They undergo extensive training in lower limb anatomy and biomechanics to ease pain and increase mobility. Your Pedorthist will:

• Assess your feet and lower legs and evaluate how you walk or run
• Educate you about your foot or lower limb condition and the recommended treatment
• Provide custom-made foot orthotics or over-the-counter devices if appropriate
• Professionally fit you with orthopaedic footwear that is appropriate for your foot type and condition
• Modify footwear to accommodate problem areas

To arrange a consultation with a Pedorthist in your community, book an appointment with your family physician and ask for a referral to a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. When you go for your initial assessment with your Pedorthist wear a pair of shorts or loose pants that can be rolled to your knees and take your everyday/work shoes and sports shoes if appropriate. Also remember to take your physician’s referral.

Your Pedorthist will quickly get you on a treatment program to ease your pain and get you back doing the activities you enjoy.

By Paul Mäkinen, C. Ped (C), Halifax, Nova Scotia