What Is Orthotics?

If you want to know what is orthotics, you need to understand that its main goal is to enhance the functioning of the musculoskeletal system and alleviate pain. Orthotics can correct structural imbalances, redistribute weight-bearing forces and stabilise joints. This also helps align the spine and limbs, preventing further injury and enhancing overall movement. Furthermore, orthotics can provide support and stability to the muscles and joints, which can aid in increasing strength and endurance.

So what is orthotics?

In the field of medicine, orthotics deals with creating, producing and using orthoses. An orthosis is a device worn on the body to provide support, align or correct the function of a joint or limb. There is a wide range of conditions that orthoses can treat, including inherited conditions, injuries and degenerative diseases.

How Orthotics Work

What is orthotics and how does it work?

Orthotics aid in correcting various foot and lower limb issues. They are commonly prescribed by medical professionals, such as podiatrists and orthopaedic surgeons, to alleviate pain and improve mobility. These devices work by redistributing weight across the foot and lower limb, relieving stress on certain areas of the foot and ankle and addressing structural abnormalities, such as overpronation or supination. 

There are various types of orthotics available, including custom-made ones tailored to a person’s unique foot shape and condition, as well as over-the-counter options that can be found at most drugstores and sporting goods stores. They can be made from different materials like plastic, carbon fibre and foam and are suitable for different shoes. They are effective in treating conditions, such as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs and shin splints, and can also reduce the risk of injury in athletes.

Types of Orthotic Devices

Orthotic devices are special shoe inserts designed to provide support and proper alignment to the foot and ankle. They commonly treat foot conditions, such as plantar fasciitis and flat feet. These devices work by correcting the foot and ankle position, which helps alleviate pain and discomfort associated with these conditions. The following are the most common types of orthotic devices:

  1. Custom Orthotics

Custom orthotics are specialised devices that are tailored to meet the specific requirements of an individual’s feet. These devices are usually prescribed by a podiatrist or orthopedist and are created using a mould or impression of the patient’s foot. Custom orthotics can be crafted from various materials, such as plastic, carbon fibre or different materials.

  1. Prefabricated Orthotics

Prefabricated orthotic devices are manufactured in various sizes and shapes to fit a general population. They are often created using a pre-formed mould, which makes them less costly than custom-made orthotics. These devices can be obtained without a prescription or with a prescription from a healthcare professional. 

  1. Over-the-counter Orthotics

Over-the-counter orthotic devices are tools that can be bought without a doctor’s prescription. They usually come in pre-made sizes and shapes that can fit most people. They are cheaper than customised orthotics and can address mild to moderate foot and arch issues. 

Conditions Treated with Orthotics

Orthotics support, keep in line and prevent or rectify deformities or functional issues of the feet and lower limbs. They can be used to manage a broad range of conditions, including but not limited to the following:

  1. Plantar fasciitis

A frequently occurring ailment is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a band of connective tissue that runs along the soles of the foot from the heel to the toes. To offer support and padding for the arch and heel, orthotics can be used. This reduces the tension on the plantar fascia, thereby decreasing pain and inflammation.

  1. Overpronation

Overpronation is an issue where the foot turns inwards excessively whilst walking or running. This can cause various problems, such as shin pain, knee aches and lower back pains. Orthotics can be used to manage overpronation and support the arch of the foot. Doing so reduces the chance of injury and enhances the overall functionality of the foot and leg.

  1. Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia is a condition that leads to pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot. The main cause of this condition is excessive pressure on the metatarsal bones. Orthotics can redistribute weight and pressure from the affected area to alleviate pain and inflammation. 

Materials Used in Orthotics

The most commonly used materials in orthotics include plastics like polypropylene and polyethene and metals like aluminium and stainless steel. These materials are chosen for their durability, strength and ability to be customised to fit the patient’s needs. Many orthotic devices also have paddings, such as foam or gel, to provide extra comfort and support.

Another material utilised in orthotics is carbon fibre, which is known for its strength and lightweight properties. This is often used in high-performance sports equipment. Carbon fibre orthoses tend to be more costly than those made of other materials. Still, they offer the benefit of being lightweight and flexible, benefiting patients who need to wear the orthotic device for extended periods. Carbon fibre orthoses are also more durable than other orthoses, which makes them a good choice for active patients or athletes.

Be at Your Best With FlexiFit Physiotherapy

Orthotics are special inserts that are crafted to fit inside shoes. They offer support and proper alignment to the feet and lower limbs. They are prescribed to treat various issues, such as foot pain, plantar fasciitis and flat feet. 

At FlexiFit Physiotherapy, our team follows a proactive strategy for pain management. We are dedicated to assisting patients in building a robust foundation for their overall health to prevent future chronic pain and movement disorders. We offer orthotic services to help you recover or avoid injury, as well as assist you with lifelong conditions.

Contact us here to book an appointment today.

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