"Orthotics" refers to any device inserted into a shoe, ranging from felt pads to custom-made shoe inserts, that correct an abnormal or irregular walking pattern. Sometimes called arch supports, orthotics allow people to stand, walk, and run more efficiently and comfortably.

While over-the-counter orthotics are available and may help people with mild symptoms, they usually cannot correct the wide range of symptoms that prescription, custom-made orthotics can. Store-bought orthotics are simply not customized to fit an individual's unique foot structure.

Are Orthotics the Answer for You?

Have you ever wanted extra padding in your shoes to help cushion the heels or balls of your feet? Or maybe your arches ache, and you've wondered if those inserts you've seen at the store could help. But how do you know what your feet need? Many over-the-counter inserts cannot relieve pressure and pain in the foot, and they may make things worse.

However, custom orthotics from an expert podiatrist are specifically prescribed to do what those simple pads cannot: correct problems in the feet and ankles.

What a Custom-Made Orthotic Can Do

Custom orthotics specifically fit your individual foot and can be soft, rigid, or semi-rigid, depending on your needs. They're used to stabilize, support, and cushion to accommodate or correct problems in your feet and ankles. By padding and securing your foot, they both aid in proper foot motion and relieve your discomfort from foot conditions.

Insoles and arch supports you pull off a rack at your local pharmacy, or even the fancy ones you can order online, are not truly custom orthotics. Since they are not made to fit your individual foot, they cannot correct specific conditions that exist. Instead, they offer mild support and cushioning. For some people, that may be enough to help relieve their discomfort. However, over-the-counter inserts are not enough for many others and may even make their problems worse. 

Dr. Evan Merrill can evaluate your feet to determine if an over-the-counter insert is enough or if you need prescription-strength support to correct and protect your feet.

Types of Orthotics

Rigid Orthotics

Rigid orthotics are designed to control function and are used primarily for walking or dress shoes. They are often composed of a firm material, such as plastic or carbon fiber.

Rigid orthotics control motion in the two major foot joints that lie directly below the ankle joint and may improve or eliminate strains, aches, and pains in the legs, thighs, and lower back.

Soft Orthotics

Soft orthotics are generally used to absorb shock, increase balance, and take pressure off uncomfortable or sore spots. They are usually effective for diabetic, arthritic, and deformed feet. Soft orthotics are typically made up of soft, cushioned materials to be worn against the sole of the foot, extending from the heel past the ball of the foot, including the toes.

Semi-Rigid Orthotics

Semi-rigid orthotics provide both foot balance and support. The typical semi-rigid orthotic is made up of layers of soft material reinforced with more rigid materials. Semi-rigid orthotics are often prescribed for children to treat flatfoot and in-toeing or out-toeing disorders. These orthotics are also used to help athletes mitigate pain while training and competing.

New Orthotic Technology: Go 4-D

Our office is proud to offer cutting-edge technology to our patients in the form of Go 4-D custom-printed orthotics. Rather than making a plaster cast or rubber mold, we use a digital scanner to measure and create a 3D model of your feet. Next, we use an HP Multi-Jet Fusion 3D printer to build an orthotic unique to the specifications of each patient's foot.

Our 3D-printed orthotics offer a variety of benefits, including:

  • Environmentally friendly manufacturing
  • A balanced combination of support and flexibility
  • A unique biomechanical lattice design
  • Lightweight design for comfortable daily wear
  • Ideal for walking, running, work, and sports

Once a unique orthotic is created to fit your foot, you just slip it into your shoes and go on your way!

Help for All Forms of Foot and Ankle Pain

If you're experiencing pain in your feet and ankles, don't ignore it. Rather than make guesses about what over-the-counter insert might help and risk it causing additional problems, contact the experts at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle. Your feet will be glad you did!

Call (541) 776-3338 or visit our online contact page to reach us.