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What You Should Know About Orthotics

What are Orthotics?

Orthotics are special, custom-made shoe or heel inserts specifically prescribed by your doctor to help treat leg, foot or back problems. Orthotics are usually part of a comprehensive treatment plan focused on addressing specific symptoms related to pain and discomfort in your legs and feet. Objectives that a doctor may have for prescribing orthotics include correcting foot deformities, helping the ankle or feet function better, providing stable support to the ankle and reducing risks of further injury. Orthotics are not something you should just buy in an athletic store. They should be highly customized for your feet. An accomplished doctor, such as Dr. Alex Yanovskiy, will recommend orthotics if other treatment methods such as exercises or an off-the-shelf device have not proven useful.

Diagnosis

If you’re experiencing significant foot and heel problems, you should see a podiatrist. A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in feet conditions. Before coming up with a treatment plan, the doctor will ask you specific questions about your symptoms, with questions such as when you first noticed the problem, and what seemed to make it better or worse.

After the question-answer session, the doctor will proceed to conduct a physical exam of the affected area. He or she will be looking for deformities in the leg and areas that are painful. The doctor will ask you to walk back and forth, as they try to determine the positioning of the feet and ankles during certain movements. Other podiatrists even have special imaging pads that they’ll ask you to walk on. These pads create an image showing where your feet touch the ground and can help you determine the problems in the structure and functioning of your feet.

If more diagnosis is required, the doctors will recommend imaging of your feet using traditional methods such as MRI, bone scan or X-rays. This will enable them to identify which areas have an injury, and damage. The doctor will then take all these findings into account and they come up with a suitable treatment recommendation for you. This is where they might recommend orthotics.

Treatable Conditions

Orthotics are useful in treating a number of conditions such as arthritis when rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis have caused poor positioning and discomfort in your feet or back pain caused by poor position of the feet. Bunions that develop at the base of the big toe cause deformities, inflammation of fluid-filled sacs in the feet which causes bursitis, and flat feet which can cause back, ankle and feet problems. People with diabetes can also experience loss of sensation in the feet, a condition referred to as diabetic neuropathy. Orthotics can help such patients reduce pressure and stress in their legs, and avoid problems such as foot ulcers. Other conditions that can be improved by orthotics include plantar fasciitis, leg injuries, heel spurs, and hammer toes.

Treatment

Orthotics is just one part of the treatment regimen for your feet concerns. A doctor may recommend orthotics along with other treatments such as physical therapy and supportive shoes. The doctor will also suggest taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as naproxen sodium, and ibuprofen, to help with the inflammation and swelling. Wearing orthotics will help provide additional support to your feet, and an additional arch to those with flat feet. It also helps cushion key areas such as the ball of the foot and heels.