Orthotics are shoe inserts that modify the structural and functional characteristics of your skeletal system. For some people they are life savers and cure most their foot pain, for others they do nothing. It depends on the person and their foot type. There are two main types: Over the counter (OTC) and custom. OTC orthotics are easily found at stores all over from Wal-Mart to CVS. Most of them are garbage and offer no legit support. However, there are many quality OTC orthotics as well that work just as well as custom orthotics.
Custom orthotics are personally tailored to your specific foot type. Think of it as getting a shirt tailored to fit just your body type in the right way. An impression is made of your foot typically through the use of plaster or foam.
Some have fancy high tech machines that can do this but why bother. From there the orthotics can be made. 99% of the time a podiatrist will send the cast/impression (the negative of your foot) to an outside company to make the orthotics. The overall cost of this is easily b/w $400-700 for the patient.
So is it worth it to spend $500 on pair of custom orthotics vs $30 OTC orthotics? It depends. If you can get away with using OTC orthotics and they cure your foot pain, by all means use that. But a lot of the time the devil is in the details. The foot is an intricate system of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. Even the slightest deviation from normal structure can cause tremendous pain in patients. Even the general complaint of “pain all over the feet” is often fixed with orthotics. But it is important to get the correct orthotic that captures your foot in the most optimal position (what is known as the subtalar joint neutral position). The foot is neither supinated or pronated in this position. And machines you see at the stores do not this no matter what they say. The neutral position needs to be carefully assessed by a podiatrist by palpating the talar head. Other factors come into play such as limb length discrepancy, arch height, varus or valgus foot type, etc.
If you want any recommendations on OTC orthotics or would like custom orthotics, you can contact me through email or call me. After putting your foot in the optimal position, I then use plaster to cast your foot. Using heat I mold the orthotic to the impression of your foot. I then correct any abnormalities I see in your foot (ex: too much tilt in your heel) and apply my own top cover over the orthotic. All the patients I have dispensed these too have loved them.
As a 24/7 house & hotel Las Vegas Podiatrist I take pride in my thorough evaluation and treatment of foot pain. I do not use "cheap" supplies and my inventory is stocked with only the most up to date and high quality supplies particularly when making custom orthotics. Please call now if you are around Las Vegas and suffer from heel pain, plantar fasciitis, neuroma, ingrown toenail, painful nails, warts, thick and long fungal nails, diabetic feet, or an ankle sprain.
Dr. Sean Reyes
24/7 Podiatrist in Las Vegas