Our team of podiatrists regularly get asked questions about the fitment, management and effectiveness of orthotic devices fitted into your shoes.
Here we will try to answer the most common questions asked by patients in regards to orthotics.
What problems or conditions can be treated by fitting orthotics?
There is a wide variety of conditions from lower back pain, knee pain, ankle pain, heel pain, arch pain or even pain in your big toe. Sometimes it is more of a concern about the way you walk or run rather than a condition with a pain component. To evaluate if an orthotic is best for you it is firstly necessary to determine what is causing your pain or concern and this is best evaluated by our team of podiatrists.Orthotics are used to correct and manage the biomechanics of walking, running and standing.Our team of highly qualified podiatrists will undertake a subjective, objective and biomechanical assessment to tailor the best possible management plan for you.
Are they uncomfortable?
We commonly hear “I had orthotics in the past and I couldn’t wear them because they hurt my feet”. Well at The Walking Clinic we pride ourselves in making sure that this type of experience does not happen. Orthoses made to order by 3D scan should be comfortable and easy to wear. Of course with anything new you do need to adjust, however if they are causing pain or an issue when wearing them you do not hesitate to contact our team. Our theory is, If you are unable to wear the orthotic it is not an effective device. We do our upmost to produce an orthotic that is both comfortable and effective.
Can I wear the shoes I want to?
Mostly yes you can. As technology has advanced our manufacturer of orthotics (Footwork.com.au) can now make slimmer and more user friendly orthotics to fit a large range of shoe types; however this isn’t true for every shoe. Your high very heels are not orthotic friendly, however this does not mean you can never wear high heels, just wear them in moderation.
Orthoses fit more easily into shoes that are orthotic friendly. There are more and more brands making orthotic friendly shoes and your podiatrist can direct you to some appropriate shops around Canberra. Often new shoes are required when orthoses are prescribed, as your old shoes may be broken down or distorted through wear.
Do I need to wear my orthoses 24×7?
Not always. Depending on why they were prescribed, your podiatrist might ask you to wear them as much as possible in the first few weeks. After your issue has settled down, you will find your own equilibrium and self-determine how much you need to wear them. Generally, the 80% rule applies: wear your orthoses for work hours plus any extended periods of walking or standing.
Can my orthoses be adjusted?
Yes they can, if you have any concerns you can contact our team to adjust your orthotic. Most adjustments can be done in house at our clinics. Occasionally more complex adjustments may be required, and in these cases we will send them to the lab in Melbourne to be adjusted. If you have any issues or queries about your orthoses, please call the clinic and speak to your podiatrist, it may be an easy fix.
How are your orthoses different from the ones I can buy at the shops?
Orthoses made by a podiatrist are usually “customised”, this means the orthotic is made individually to your feet. This is done by taking a plaster cast or now with modern technology, a 3D scan of your feet. Alongside the scan of your feet, the podiatrist will take a video and pressure analysis scan to create a prescription for the orthoses. The prescription and the scans will be sent away to produce an orthotic tailored to your feet and to your problem.
A custom orthotic is very different from what they call a “prefabricated” orthotic. These orthoses can be purchased in generally 3 sizes; small, medium or large. You pick the size closest to you and wear them. These orthoses are made to the “normal” foot as to fit everyone in the market. Unfortunately, everybody has a different foot (even your two feet are different) and to rule everyone under the same umbrella just doesn’t always work.
Why are they called “custom” orthoses?
“Custom orthotic” indicates the mode of manufacture is personalised to your foot. Each orthotic is made from a 3D scan of your foot and will fit only you. Quite often your feet are different to each other, and certainly different to the person next to you. Custom orthoses take this into account to adjust how your foot interacts with the ground to help with your foot or lower limb problem.
When do my orthoses wear out?
Since technology has improved, orthoses are lasting very well compared to older manufacture techniques. Our orthoses are milled from a solid block of polypropylene plastic and this gives them inherent strength and stability. The orthotic shell is now lasting well with standard wear time without replacement of 5 – 10 years or in some cases longer.
However, the top cover on the shell can need replacement approximately every 12 months due to material fatigue and smell accumulation. This is a quick, easy and affordable process.
Are orthotics expensive?
Orthotics are an investment in your wellbeing. Each orthotic is produced individually to each foot and each person using very accurate and modern equipment. They can be purchased in increments and are built to last, with some parts being replaceable as they wear.
Can orthoses help my children’s feet when they run?
In adults, orthoses are prescribed when there is foot or leg pain. In children this can be a bit tricky to identify because often there isn’t any whinging or pain descriptors are not clearly communicated. If there is a functional inefficiency as identified by your podiatrist (e.g. knock knees, pigeon toes, flat feet) and your child is having trouble keeping up, fatiguing early, doesn’t like sport, has slow reactions, is tripping and falling frequently, or generally is uncoordinated, orthoses may be prescribed to improve efficiency in the lower limb.
Are orthoses my only option?
No. However, orthoses can be very useful in addressing common lower limb biomechanical problems and frequently are worth trying before exploring more invasive options such as steroid injections or surgery. For example, if we are treating or managing a condition like plantar fasciitis (sore heels) and there is obvious excessive pronation (rolling in) of the foot then the best way to eliminate poor biomechanics as a contributing factor is to change them with orthoses. Your podiatrist will talk though your options with whatever foot or lower limb condition you have. Our job is to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about your health care and this includes ensuring you are aware of all the options available to you. Please ask your podiatrist any questions you may have about your care.
For any further questions regarding orthoses and their implementation, the best option is to have the conversation with our fantastic team of podiatrists. They can assess your feet and see if an orthotic is appropriate for management of your condition.