What Are Orthotics?

Insoles, Footbeds, Arch supports or to use the correct term- Orthoses, are a medically prescribed device that we place underneath our foot in order to alter forces going through the foot/leg.

There are lots of different orthotics options available to buy nowadays and this can make things confusing and as a result there can be a negative preconception about their usefulness. Orthoses should be individually prescribed to the individual, if this prescription is not appropriate for the issue the patient is having then the outcome will not be a success. Many devices can look quite similar but the design features can vary greatly, getting this right is an important factor in patient compliance and positive results.

Are custom devices better than off the shelf (OTS) devices?

Again this is dependant on what is trying to be achieved. There are certain conditions that have evidence which suggests no difference between custom and OTS. There are other studies which suggest custom may be more beneficial, but as before as long as the prescription variables are correct and orthotic intervention is considered the correct option for the patient then we can predict better satisfaction.

How do orthoses work?

There has been lots of debate about how orthoses work and people still aren’t 100% sure. The historical belief that they realign and straighten your skeleton is incorrect, unfortunately this is still advertised in various places. The classic picture of a flat foot or pronated foot standing on an orthotic and being perfectly straight is unlikely for the majority of people. The general belief is that they change the forces that go through the structures of the body and by altering these forces we can offload and direct pressure away from certain areas, hence why each individual prescription is important rather than everyone having a standard arch support.

How can they help?

When trying to improve most conditions we want to off load the injured structure to help it heal and we want to rehabilitate it to make it stronger to prevent reoccurrence. At Harris and Ross we have great therapists to help with your rehab work, orthoses can be viewed as an adjunct to rehab as a way to change forces going through the injured structure and off load the area whilst healing takes place.

Do I need to wear Orthoses for life?

Not necessarily, once the structure has healed then you may not need to continue with your orthoses, think of them in the same way as wearing a cast if you broke your arm. Sometimes if you have biomechanical or structural issues that predispose you to injury then you may feel it is better to continue using your orthoses going forward.

If you would like to investigate orthotics as a potential treatment option, we would advise booking a 1hr biomechanical assessment appointment with the Harris & Ross podiatrist Oliver Taylor by clicking Book Now below or calling 0161 832 9000.