Custom orthotics are shoes inserts molded to fit a patients unique foot type. There are several benefits of custom orthotics over products that can be purchased off the shelf.
-Custom Fit: Custom orthotics are made just for you! We obtain molds of the foot in a neutral alignment and make an orthtoics crafted to the specific needs of the patient. Over the counter (OTC) orthotics are a one size fits all. If your arch is high, or low, or if you have some other deviation from normal such as bunions, OTC orthotics may not provide the correct support. OTC orthotic foot scanners have been used to market "custom fitted" OTC devices to patients. These scanners are given faulty information because they only see your foot in stance instead of non-weight bearing. You don't want an orthotic that is supporting the bottom part of your motion, you want it to support the neutral arch.
-Custom Perscription: All OTC orthotics are balnced the same. They attempt to place the foot at a slight inversion of about 2 degree tilted towards the outside. This is not a correct fit for all patients and can cause increase in pain for certain foot types and conditions. A custom orthotics comes with a perscription written by your Podiatrist balancing the heel and foot into the correct alignment for maximal function and pain relief.
-Modifications: As part of the perscription for the orthotic, we are able to modify the device for certain conditions. A cutout under a bone can offload a painful joint or increase function. Padding can help to reduce pressure in the ball of the foot. Increased side walls can help to decrease pronation (foot rolling in). Modifications help to make your foot functions at the highest level.
-Quality: Custom orhtotics will last longer and be more durrable then most OTC devices. Custom orthtoics are made from strong plastics or carbon fiber, where as OTC orthotics are often foam rubber. This also allows for them to give additional support when walking or exercising.
Overall, custom orthotics are superior to OTC devices. I look at it like this; You can go to the store and buy a pair of OTC glasses, and they may help you read the menu at the restaurant, but you would not want to wear them to read a novel. The same applies for inserts. OTC orthotics can help, but custom orthotics are often the superior solution.
Chris Suykerbuyk, DPM, FACFAS