When it comes to the various tools and techniques we use at Heartland Foot & Ankle Associates to help patients overcome painful conditions, perhaps the most versatile is orthotic therapy. Custom orthotics can be used to treat issues as diverse as bunions, cavus foot (high, rigid foot arches), flatfoot, osteoarthritis, metatarsalgia (forefoot pain), and plantar fasciitis (the leading cause of heel pain for adults).
These valuable medical devices are customized to the unique specifications of a patient’s feet, typically fit within regular footwear, and allow normal movement (often in a biomechanically-improved manner). When ailments are discovered early on, the use of custom orthotics can even sometimes prevent the need for surgery later on down the road.
What Are Orthotics and Why Use Them?
Put simply, orthotics are medical devices customized for your feet. They can be used for different purposes and fall into one of two general categories – functional and accommodative. Functional orthotics are constructed from sturdy materials and prescribed to restrict motion. Accommodative orthotics tend to be made from softer materials and can provide additional cushioning to account for structural abnormalities.
There are almost as many specific types of orthotic inserts as there are conditions that benefit from using them as part of a treatment plan. Some examples include:
- Heel wedges used to guide the foot into turning either inward or outward and prevent the ankle region from sliding down the incline.
- Heel flares used to prevent inward or outward turning and offer stability.
- Sole wedges used to promote healthy pronation or supination, depending on their lateral or medial construction.
- Rocket bars used to shift the rollover point from the metatarsal head to the metatarsal shaft to prevent discomfort in patients who have foot ulcers.
- Toe crests used to fill the void under the under phalanges that are closer to the body and are often placed behind the second, third, and fourth toes to reduce stress.
In response to “why use custom orthotics,” the answer is simply “because they work.” These medical devices take into account your unique foot structure and biomechanics. This enables us to offload pressure from specific areas and provide structural realignment.
Orthotics and Running Pain
When you experience pain or discomfort in your knees, hips, or lower back from running, but aren’t sure where it’s coming from, take a look at your feet. If you have either high arches or flat feet, and a majority of people have one or the other, the condition is going to affect your biomechanics when you run. The good news about this is that we can help.
A pair of custom orthotics will help correct your biomechanics so your feet go through a proper rolling motion with every step you take. This will have a positive impact on the rest of your body, especially your knees. Now, before you go out and purchase a pair of inserts from a department store, it is important to note they are not customized to your specific body. A better move is coming in and seeing us at HFAA to have your feet measured for a custom fit.
But What About Store-Bought Inserts?
Both shoe inserts and orthotics have their respective benefits for helping address ankle and foot problems, but the two are distinctly different entities. A fundamental difference between the two is the fact that orthotics are prescribed by a doctor and are specifically designed to fit your feet.
Everyone’s feet are unique. The shoe inserts bought at a department store can provide cushioning and perhaps odor elimination, but will not offer the same level of support and impact on your body’s biomechanics as orthotics do. Additionally, the medical devices prescribed by HFAA can be used to treat a variety of ailments. Inserts are certainly not recommended when dealing with Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis, and limb length deformity.
Orthotic Therapy at Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates
We utilize Icon Orthotics which provide a significant breakthrough in foot and total body support and realignment.
Our Icon Orthotics cushion and support your feet as it gently lifts the arches into proper position. Each orthotic is custom-made to fit your feet and adjusted to support you perfectly.
The basic process for having your new pair of customized orthotics is:
- We take an impression of your feet which are then used to manufacture Icon Orthotics uniquely suited to your feet to correct your problems.
- At your dispensing visit, you’ll try out your new orthotics. We review our detailed orthotic break-in instructions, and Dr. Lockwood watches you walk to assess your improved mechanics! We then schedule your first follow up visit at 3 weeks.
- One or more additional visits may be required to get an ideal fit. Be sure to let us know as you soon notice the improvement in terms of less pain, easier walking, better endurance in running or other changes!
Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates is ready to help you and your loved ones resolve any foot or ankle condition causing you pain or difficulty. Custom orthotics might be the nonsurgical treatment option that works for you, so let Dr. Lockwood create a pair for you. Start your path to pain-free living by calling (309) 661-9975 to request an appointment at our Bloomington, IL foot doctor office. You can also use our online form to connect with us today!