Are custom orthotics worth the cost?

Mar 4, 2020

This is an undeniable truth:

If you’re giving any kind of resource—time, money, energy, etc.—you want to receive (at least) appropriate value in return.

And that’s completely normal for humans.

Even when we do something charitable, like donating to a favorite organization, we still get positive feelings from the experience, right?

So value is obviously important to all of us.

Because this is the case, we understand when patients have questions like:

Are custom orthotics worth it?

Some people might think a podiatrist office would get tired of hearing that one, but this isn’t the case at all!

See, we love helping people learn about podiatry-related topics, and “custom orthotics” definitely qualifies as such. You should know what they could mean for you and your family.

Since finances are a major concern for most households not headed by Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, we totally get why you’d want to know if getting prescription custom orthotics and shoe inserts is the right call.

Well, to answer this, let’s start with another common orthotics question: 

What exactly do orthotics do?

The specific answer to this question will depend on why you are being prescribed orthotics, but there are two general purposes they can serve:

  • Controlling or adjusting foot motion
  • Providing additional cushioning

To the first point, many foot and ankle problems are caused by biomechanical abnormalities. (Biomechanical is just a fancy way of saying “how living things move.”)

This blog post gives a more in-depth look at what orthotics can do for you!

When Dr. Lockwood customizes orthotic devices for your unique feet, the intended function will be a primary consideration. Further, it will determine the right kind of orthotic:

  • Rigid orthotic devices can be used to regulate movement.
  • Soft inserts provide cushioning to specific areas of the foot.
  • Semi-rigid models strike a balance between the two.

An important note about this is that orthotics are kind of like eyeglasses – they provide correction and other benefits, but don’t do much good if you leave them on the table.

Fortunately, all you need to do with a pair is slip them into your shoes and then go ahead with your normal activities (unless you are following a treatment plan that has restrictions).

So, do custom orthotics really work?

Going back to the point about value, what you receive in exchange for your resources is only worth it if it’s useful or does what’s intended, you know?

So it’s only natural when patients want to be sure orthotics can help eliminate foot pain.

Well, here’s the thing about that:

Orthotics are prescribed by podiatrists like our own Drs. Lockwood for a simple reason – they absolutely do work!

In fact, we can use them to treat a variety of foot and ankle conditions.

This isn’t a comprehensive list (because custom orthotics are so incredibly versatile), but some issues we may prescribe them for include:

  • Flat feet
  • Heel pain
  • Bunions
  • Arthritis
  • High arches
  • Sports injuries
  • Diabetic foot care

Not sure yet if a pair of orthotics is right for you? Check out this interesting article from Harvard Medical School!

orthotics worth the investment

Who can benefit from orthotic therapy?

Obviously, patients suffering from the conditions listed above may have custom orthotics included in their treatment plans.

Now, if you look at that list and think about the kinds of people who might suffer from those afflictions, you may realize it covers a wide spectrum.

In fact, those kinds of foot and ankle problems affect people in virtually every demographic.

Accordingly, we may recommend orthotic therapy for men, women, children, and seniors from all walks of life.

Given that we provide comprehensive podiatry services for families across our Bloomington community, this is an especially valuable treatment option for our doctors at HFAA!

And that reminds us:

Sometimes a family member being prescribed orthotics is a child – and children’s feet grow (like weeds).

So what happens if/when your son or daughter outgrows his or her custom orthotics?

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back!

Because we know firsthand that this is a legitimate concern for parents, we developed our special Pediatric Orthotic Outgrowth Policy.

If you’d like to know more about the policy (or want to see what other questions patients often ask), you can find information on our FAQ page!

Are custom orthotics better than over the counter shoe inserts?

This is another question we hear a lot, and it makes sense for a couple different reasons.

Part of the confusion here can be related to marketing.

When the marketing folks at Dr. Scholl’s or The Good Feet Store try to convince you to buy their products, they might get a little loose with the facts.

Sure, a shoe insert you can grab at your retailer of choice might be able to offer some extra cushioning or perhaps a certain degree of arch support, but here’s the thing about that:

Mass-produced shoe inserts should not be used to treat medical issues.

How could they?

Feet are intricately structured and contain hundreds of bones, muscles, connective tissues, nerves (etc.).

That means there is, at the risk of understating, a lot of opportunity for variance – to the point it’s safe to say that everyone’s feet are us unique as we are ourselves!

On top of that, lifestyles and personal circumstances are also so varied.

If you don’t have a trained, skilled, and accredited podiatrist examining your feet, how can you trust something that comes off a conveyor belt in China to treat your pain?

Now, there are certain kinds of prefabricated, podiatrist-approved inserts and devices. We even offer some in our office.

Want to see which foot care products we offer at our Bloomington office? This page can help!

Out of the many points we hope you’re able to take away from this post, an especially important one is that shoe inserts bought off the shelf are NOT the same as the orthotic devices we provide (both custom and prefabricated). 

Where should you go for orthotic shoe inserts in Bloomington?

Obviously, we’re biased, but we think you should consider coming to see us at HFAA if you’re in (or near) Bloomington and are interested in orthotics!

There are several reasons to support that, including our focus on transparency:

Interested in how much custom orthotics cost? We have that listed here on our Pricing page!

(Actually, you can see so much more than the price of orthotics – all because it’s important to us that you are able to walk in and have a good idea as to what to expect!)

Combine the transparency with our experience, advanced treatment options, and commitment to providing exceptional foot care for your whole family, and hopefully you’ll agree that HFAA is a smart choice.

If you have any questions or would like to request a visit with our office, please feel free to give us a call at (309) 661-9975 and we’ll be happy to help!