A: If required, all ages can benefit from a foot orthotic. From discomfort in the foot to severe problems such as diabetic foot ulcers, a foot orthotic can help a wide range of patients. A detailed assessment from a footwear and orthotic expert such as a Canadian Certified Pedorthist can confirm if a foot orthotic will assist a patient with a particular foot, leg, or even back problem.
Q: What does a foot orthotic look like?
A: The appearance of a foot orthotic depends on what condition it is designed to treat and the type of shoe it will be worn in. Canadian Certified Pedorthists work closely with their patients to determine the type of over-the-counter device or custom-made foot orthotic that is most appropriate for their individual needs.
The type of device depends on many factors, including: the patient’s lifestyle, athletic activities, foot type, and the problems the patient is encountering.
Depending on its purpose, the size of a custom-made foot orthotic may vary significantly from the full length of the foot to a short device that ends behind the metatarsal heads (ball of the foot). Smaller devices are usually designed to fit in shoes that do not have a removable inlay, such as dress shoes.
A foot orthotic can be made from materials ranging from soft foam to hard plastic, depending on a patient’s needs.
Q: Why is it important to put a foot orthotic in proper footwear?
A: A shoe acts as a foundation for the foot and provides a stable base for the foot orthotic. Wearing appropriate footwear is imperative, as the footwear itself is an important treatment method. A foot orthotic can be rendered less effective if it is placed in inferior footwear as the shoe may work against the features of the orthotic. The foot orthotic is only as good as the shoe it goes into.
Q: How long will a foot orthotic last?
A: The lifespan of a foot orthotic varies from patient to patient. The materials used to make the foot orthotic, the patient’s foot structure, levels of activity, age and physical condition all impact the orthotic’s lifespan. The lifespan of a foot orthotic should not be measured by when the the cover material wears out but by how long the orthotic meets the foot’s changing needs for support, correction and pressure redistribution. If your symptoms begin to return it is a good idea to have your orthotic reassessed to determine if modifications or a new device are necessary.
Q: What’s the difference between an “orthotic” and “orthosis”?
A: They are the same. “Orthosis” is the clinical term that physicians and healthcare providers frequently use and “orthotic” is the more commonly used term by the general public.