Do I Need Orthotics?
Orthotics are a form of treatment we frequently discuss at McVay Foot & Ankle. There is a simple reason for that, of course: they tend to be quite effective!
However, let’s not go so far as to believe that a pair of custom orthotic inserts are the best option for every ache and pain out there. We wish it could be that simple, but the human body is a much more complicated system to hold only one solution for everything—even in a smaller area like the feet and ankles.
Certain signs and symptoms exist that tend to point toward custom orthotics as a potential treatment for a problem. But simply having them is not a guarantee that you need or we will recommend orthotics in your particular case; that requires a more thorough evaluation and personal review.
The following signs, even if they don’t result in a need for orthotics, are still very good reasons to see us anyway. Please don’t hesitate when you see them; something can and should be done to address the situation!
Times When Orthotics May Be on the Table
In the broadest sense, custom orthotics may be considered whenever a problem is being caused by a structural abnormality within the foot.
In other words, there is something that is causing forces to not be distributed properly across the foot, or part of the foot is not in a strong or optimal state to take on the forces it can normally endure. These are situations that can lead to chronic pain.
It should be said, however, that even if an abnormality is discovered in your foot structure, that does not always mean action needs to be taken. Many people have an abnormal structure that does not bother them in the least; only when it causes pain or other symptoms does it need to be taken care of.
Here are a few ways such situations can manifest or become problematic:
- You have persistent pain in your foot or heel. Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first, right? Or is it always so obvious? Many people endure foot pain on a daily basis, but will blame it on more external factors such as “the rigors of the job” or “having to wear bad shoes.” If you’re blaming things you may not be able to control, however, you are not focusing on the things you can! There is always something that can be done about foot or heel pain, and custom orthotics may be a viable treatment.
- Your shoe treads are unevenly worn out. You should of course never expect the soles of your shoes to last forever (and should definitely invest in a new pair of shoes when they start to break down!). But if you see one side of your shoe wearing out more than the other, that is a pretty significant sign of an abnormal gait. Your foot may roll too far inward (overpronation) or roll outward (supination) while you walk, and that can lead to pain and injury if it has not already. Custom orthotics are spectacular at providing corrective support in these situations.
- You know you have high arches or flat feet. Perhaps you had flat feet as a child and never “grew out of it.” Maybe your arches have fallen in adulthood, or you have simply had high arches all your life. If you have not had your condition looked at recently, it is worth a check-up—especially if you have had discomfort while moving or standing for long periods of time.
- You had a recent foot or ankle injury. An injury can be a unique circumstance. In one case, we should determine whether the injury was caused by an abnormality in foot structure. For example, are flat feet causing excess strain on your plantar fascia, leading to an injury there? On the other hand, an injury may not be caused by an imbalance in forces, but can cause an imbalance that may lead to further and longer-lasting problems. An ankle sprain, for example, may not heal properly and lead to instability in the joint, which can lead to further injuries.
In either of the above cases, custom orthotics may provide correction and support to prevent further trouble.
What Other Options May There Be?
Custom orthotics can provide exact amounts of correction, cushioning, and support where needed—and if needed—to bring significant relief to aching feet. But it is not always the only or best option.
In certain cases—especially those that are not the result of an abnormality in foot structure or the way you move—different forms of treatment may provide better results. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Physical therapy, in the form of stretches and exercises to condition certain muscles and tissues.
- Changes in footwear or lifestyle.
- Rest and icing, to help aid recovery from a foot or ankle injury.
- Medications, including anti-inflammatory oral medications and/or corticosteroid injections, depending on circumstances.
It may very well be possible that several recommendations may be made as part of an overall treatment plan, and that custom orthotics play a role alongside additional treatments.
It is also possible that surgery may be a necessary consideration. However, this is in very uncommon cases. In most situations, significant relief can be found through more conservative methods.
Find the Help You Deserve for Your Foot and Ankle Discomfort
Whether custom orthotics are just the thing for your troubles or not, only one thing is certain: your condition will likely not improve if you don’t take some kind of action to address it. In some cases, it can grow even worse with inaction!
We’re here to help our patients through the best means available. Call our Colorado Springs office at (719) 266-5000 to schedule an appointment or, if you prefer to reach out to us electronically, our online contact form is always open.