Foot orthotics are one of the most effective tools Canadian Certified Pedorthists use to relieve and prevent foot and lower limb pain. These small medical devices fit discreetly into patients’ shoes to help support and align their feet. Foot orthotics can be purchased off-the-shelf or be custom made by a Pedorthist to meet a patient’s specific biomechanical needs and foot condition.
Although foot orthotics are highly effective and simple to use, I continue to be amazed by how many myths surround them. Some of the most common myths I have heard include:
- they will hurt
- are only for seniors
- are all created equal
Foot orthotics definitely shouldn’t hurt. On the contrary, orthotics reduce or eliminate pain. Although many patients require a “break in” period ranging from a few days to a few weeks, some patients find their foot orthotics comfortable immediately. Whether a break-in period is required or not, foot orthotics should ultimately become so comfortable the patient can wear them all day and with regular use the original discomfort they were experiencing should decrease or disappear completely.
The myth about foot orthotics just being for senior citizens is equally untrue. Foot orthotics are invaluable for relieving and preventing foot pain and problems for people of all ages. When it comes to orthotic use, Pedorthists typically see patients in three major demographic groups: children aged nine to 18-years-old; adults 40 to 60-years-old; and seniors aged 65 plus.
Finally foot orthotics are not all created equal and not all orthotics are appropriate for all conditions. There is a wide range of foot orthotics available, from mass produced varieties sold in grocery stores and pharmacies to ones that are custom made by a Pedorthist. The type of orthotic a patient requires depends on the patient’s condition and foot type and an inappropriate foot orthotic will not help a patient.
If you are experiencing foot or lower limb pain or decreased mobility, a foot orthotic may be what you need to get you back to your old self. But when it comes to foot pain, don’t self-diagnose. Ask your doctor if orthotics might be helpful. Once you have a referral, book a consultation with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist to find out which type of foot orthotic is best for your foot type and condition.
By Jody Mann, C. Ped (C), Vancouver, BC