|   1.888.268.4404

October 2020

Monthly Archives

Alleviate Arthritis Pain with Custom Orthotics

There is a special need for orthotics for patients with arthritis. Depending on the patient’s needs, custom orthotics may help alleviate pain and discomfort in several ways including:

Shock Absorption

Generally, custom orthotics created for patients with arthritis are softer and made from different materials than other orthotics. This construction difference is designed to optimize shock absorption and decrease the shock going into the foot. Shock in the foot is something that aggravates pain in the affected area.

Orthotics for patients with arthritis are more likely to be accommodative orthotic – they are softer with a little more “give” in them. The more rigid orthotics tend not to absorb shock and pass it along to the sore joints in the foot. It is less of a functional orthotic – one that is to hold the arch or another area of the foot up. 

Decreased Pressure on Sore Spots

If the patient’s foot has a sore spot, the custom orthotic may be created with an area of the orthotic dug out or “excavated” in the area (shown) where the foot is sore to decrease the pressure on the affected area.

Reduced Toe Joint Motion

If the arthritis is in the toe joints (metatarsal joints), a stiffer material may be put under those joints to stop them from bending or bending as much. If the motion in a joint can be slowed down or stopped, pain in that area can be reduced or eliminated. At the left is a photo of a device called a Morton’s Extension. A more rigid shell is placed on the orthotic and the piece at the toe stops the big toe from bending. If a person has arthritis in that joint, keeping that joint from moving will reduce or eliminate the pain when walking. This can be a carbon fibre plate that is put in the shoe or included in an orthotic

There are many options available to you if you have arthritis to help keep you more active and involved in healthy exercise. Contact your local pedorthist to see how custom orthotics might benefit you.

By Jim Pattison, C. Ped (C)


Tell-tale Signs You Might Need Orthotics

Orthotics are a great way to deal with mechanical issues in your feet that may be causing or will cause pain. Without a trained eye, how can you determine if orthotics can be beneficial? Here are some visible and pain signs that may indicate the need for orthotics.

Visible signs

Arch collapse

There are three arches in the foot, but there are two that are more commonly supported with orthotics. The third ends up being supported with an orthotic, but is typically not the main focus.

Collapse of the medial arch, or the arch on the inside of the foot, is the more common reason to wear orthotics. This collapse can occur while standing, or as a low arch with or without standing, which is called pes planus. With this medial arch collapse, it strains structures under the foot, as well as the supporting structures around the ankle, which travel up to the lower leg. The effect can travel higher up the body, because when the medial arch collapses, the lower and upper leg rotate inwards excessively, which strains the knee, hip and back structures. The way you can visibly see this collapse is by looking at this arch while standing. If you cannot place a couple fingers under your arch, this may indicate an arch collapse. Another part of the body to look as is the ankle. With a medial arch collapse, this ankle can be shifted inwards. This ankle shift may not always be present as you can have the collapse without the ankle shift.

The metatarsal arch (arch at the ball of the foot) is another common arch that is supported with orthotics. With this metatarsal arch collapse, it places excessive pressure to the bones at the ball of the foot and the structures surrounding the ball of the foot. A couple signs that may indicate this arch collapse are clawed toes and callusing under the ball of the foot. To visibly see this arch collapse, look at the “pad” at the ball of the foot. If this pad is a straight from one end to the other, or the middle part bulges out further, this can indicate an arch collapse.  

High Arch

A high medial arch is the other extreme to the low arch, which can also benefit from orthotics. A high arch can hinder shock absorption and strain the structures on the outside of the foot and lower leg. To visibly see this arch, there are a few signs to look for. There may be a bump on the top of the foot, which can make it hard to fit into shoes. Callusing may be visible under the ball of the foot, only under the outside and inside bones. Also take a look at the shoes, as they may be worn down along the border of the outside of the heel.

Pain Signs


Pain can be another indication that orthotics may be needed. The more common pain areas that can be related to the foot mechanics are the foot, knee, hip, or lower back.

The more common areas of foot pain are at the heel, arch and ball of the foot. Depending on the severity of the pain, it may occur in the morning when you first step out of bed, at the end of the day or while performing a specific activity.

Knee, hip and lower back pain may develop from the feet as the lower and upper leg responds to actions at the foot. Because pain may also be related to other factors higher up, other professionals such as a physiotherapist or chiropractor may be recommended to add to the treatment protocol.

Back pain may also be present due to a leg length discrepancy. When one leg is shorter than the other, the hips are not aligned properly and can affect the lower back. There are different types of a leg length discrepancy, which can both be addressed with an orthotic. Talk to your local Canadian Certified Pedorthist to see if a leg length discrepancy may be present.

If the visible signs are present w

ithout pain, orthotics or an over-the-counter insert may be beneficial to prevent pain in the future.

Book an appointment with your local Canadian Certified Pedorthist to determine how orthotics can help you!

By Julia Hayman, Canadian Certified Pedorthist

Meet a Pedorthist – Jenna Dibblee, C. Ped (C)

While pursuing an education in athletic therapy, Jenna Dibblee, C. Ped (C), found herself struggling with sidelining athletes due to pain or injury. She always strived to find a safe solution to allow participation. Her interest in bracing led her to start job shadowing a pedorthist during her undergraduate studies in Kingston, ON. Learning from a mentor opened her eyes to a field she was unaware of at the beginning of her educational path.

After receiving her pedorthic certification, Jenna began working as a pedorthist in Ottawa, making custom orthotics and specializing in orthopedic bracing. At the same time, she worked at Carleton University as a certified athletic therapist with the varsity rugby team. Since then, she has moved to Port Perry, ON where she works seasonally as an athletic therapist at Ontario Tech University, and part time at BioPed Lindsay as a pedorthist.

Jenna finds her work very rewarding, especially when patients with knee osteoarthritis try on an unloading knee brace and notice instantaneously decreased pain. “The looks of shock and tears of relief are well worth the investment,” she says. Jenna always tries to make a lasting connection with her patients. “We have the privilege to spend adequate one-on-one time with patients so that they feel heard and that their concerns are addressed.” She finds that patients are appreciative when pedorthists focus on patient education.

Her clinic having reopened since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jenna’s appointments are now scheduled further apart to allow for thorough disinfecting and sanitizing procedures. Staff at her clinic are all equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment and patients are screened prior to and upon arrival.

Jenna hopes to one day pursue her master’s degree in rehabilitation sciences so she can teach and inspire future students in the applied health care field.