Custom-made or over-the-counter orthotics: how to choose?
Last update: 24 February 2020
Whether for daily use or for sports, nowadays plantar orthotics are used to treat a wide range of pathologies.
Regardless of why you want them, the choice of a pair of plantar orthotics should not be left to chance.
Several factors must be considered when selecting your orthotics, such as your morphology, your lifestyle and the source of the orthotics themselves.
Don’t know where to look when it comes to choosing your foot orthotics?
Here is what differentiates custom and prefabricated orthotics.
How do custom orthotics differ from prefabricated orthotics?
While not completely different from each other, there are several notable differences between custom and prefabricated orthotics.
Over-the-counter orthotics are known for being easy to obtain. You can buy them in pharmacies or in department stores. In addition, no professional measures are required.
Because of its standard shape, the prefabricated orthotic is usually better suited for people who do not have major issues. Moreover, it is not designed to compensate for your biomechanical deficiencies, in itself, because it is an arch support.
Custom-made foot orthotics are usually prescribed by a podiatrist.
To be perfectly adapted to the shape of your feet, this type of orthotic must be made to measure and moulded to fit your feet.
Although it takes longer to obtain than a prefabricated orthotic, this customized therapeutic orthotic can be used to treat more serious and complex conditions.
What conditions can be treated with custom plantar orthotics?
A real technological gem, custom-made plantar orthotics can address issues well beyond the scope of a simple plantar arch.
Below are some conditions that can be treated with custom-made orthotics:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Hammer toe
- Achilles tendonitis
- Flat feet
- Hollow feet
- Bunions (hallux valgus)
- Foot arthritis
- Bunion on the baby toe (bunionette)
- Ankle bursitis
- Heel spurs (calcaneal spur)
Since the primary function of the foot is to support and balance the rest of the body, any biomechanical imbalance can threaten musculoskeletal stability.
Under such circumstances, custom-made foot orthotics can help solve problems like:
- Poor posture
- Lower limb asymmetry
- Joint pain in the ankles, knees and lower back
How do I know if I need foot orthotics?
Before seeking to obtain custom-made or prefabricated orthotics, it is always advisable to have a clear understanding of the nature of your pain.
With a diverse diagnostic arsenal, your podiatrist can help shed light on the problem.
To determine if the orthotic is the best solution to alleviate your discomfort, the podiatrist will perform the following tests:
- Biomechanical examination
- Postural evaluation
- Digital radiography of the foot
- Taking impressions with a podograph
- 2D/3D scanning
If there is no doubt that your condition can benefit from a prescription for custom orthotics, your podiatrist will begin the moulding process in order to relieve you of pain as quickly as possible.
Can a prefabricated orthotic be harmful?
Prefabricated orthotics are not always a bad choice for treating a minor podiatric condition.
However, if you suffer from a more severe or acute pathology, this type of treatment is strongly discouraged.
Since the over-the-counter orthotic must conform to a standard plantar shape, it is likely that an irregular foot will not conform to it.
The use of an inappropriate orthotic or insole can create pressure points and injuries, and cause even more pain.
That’s why it’s important to consult a podiatrist before purchasing prefabricated orthotics to treat a very painful condition.
PiedRéseau: streamline the purchase of your foot orthotics
Selecting the appropriate type of plantar orthotics can be a complex task.
Fortunately, there is a network of many podiatry clinics at your disposal to make this task easier.
In addition to determining the origin of your pain, your podiatrist is also able to offer you custom-made orthotics.
Still unsure? Contact your podiatrist without delay.