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What Issues Can Orthotics Address and Even Correct?

When your foot or ankle is out of alignment, or when you need additional support for your arches and your heels, you may need prescription orthotics. These medical devices not only  ease your foot pain, but they also help improve your biomechanics.

At Chicagoland Foot and Ankle, our team of board-certified foot and ankle specialists regularly prescribes custom orthotic devices for our patients struggling with a range of foot and ankle problems. 

By combining supportive shoes with custom-made orthotics, you can reduce your pain and put your best foot forward. Here’s how orthotics can help.

What are the two primary categories of orthotics?

Each type of orthotic is tailored to a particular podiatric condition and your individual needs. But there are two large orthotic categories: functional and accommodative. 

Functional

Functional orthotics correct foot alignment. They reposition the bones and soft tissues to prevent repetitive use issues like Achilles tendonitis (inflammation of the Achilles tendon) and plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the band of tissue supporting your foot arch). 

The orthotics just slip into your shoes and go to work. You won’t feel them working, but they can change your foot position in ways that eliminate pain and allow your foot to heal.

It’s interesting to note that some 60% of Americans experience regular heel pain because their shoes don't fit properly or have the right support. That’s a lot of unnecessary pain. Orthotics, though, can fix the shoes’ fit and resolve the underlying foot and ankle issues at the same time. It’s a win-win.

Accommodative 

Accommodative orthotics protect parts of the feet and ankles that are weak or damaged, such as covering a foot ulcer to prevent the shoe from rubbing against it. They pad and protect the areas most susceptible to problems, leading to decreased pain and discomfort.

Custom orthotics serve two additional purposes: They’re part of the treatment plan when you struggle with chronic foot conditions or have acute injuries, and they’re a key part of preventive foot care; if they prevent shoe rubbing, the ulcer might never form. 

What issues can orthotics address or correct?

Custom orthotics are most commonly used to relieve arch and heel pain, but they can also help with pain in the ankle, leg, hip, and back that stem from an altered gait due to foot and ankle misalignment. 

Here are a number of foot and ankle conditions and the orthotics we may prescribe:

For bunions, we recommend shoes that have a wide toe box, soft and seamless tops, stretchy materials, and a bunion shield to prevent rubbing.

For corns and calluses, which usually form on or between the toes, a toe separator can relieve the pressure.

If you have a rigid, high arch, soft orthotic cushions distribute pressure evenly across your foot.

Most children start out with flat feet but begin to develop an arch around age 5. For adults with flat feet that lead to symptoms such as heel pain, irritated tendons, and an altered gait, a semirigid insert or long arch pad, an inner heel wedge, and/or an extended heel counter might help.

Hammertoes or claw toes often occur alongside bunions, and the mid-joint of the affected toe can rub painfully against the shoe’s top. Shoes with a wide or deep toe box, as well as a toe crest, can prove helpful.

Diabetics often develop slow-healing foot and ankle ulcers, which can be quite painful. They require a full-contact, cushioned orthosis, as well as extra-deep/custom shoes and a rocker bottom sole to reduce pressure on the feet.

Plantar fasciitis, as we’ve mentioned, affects the ligament that supports your arch, and it leads to characteristic heel pain. A silicone, rubber, or felt prefabricated heel insert may help.

If you’re dealing with recurring or constant foot or ankle pain, or if you’ve sustained an acute foot or ankle injury, it’s time to come into Chicagoland Foot and Ankle to discuss how orthotics can help. 

Give us a call at any of our locations (the Mount Greenwood and Portage Park areas of Chicago, and Orland Park and New Lenox, Illinois), or book your appointment online today.

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