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Understanding Orthotics and How Can They Help You Manage an Injury

Understanding Orthotics and How Can They Help You Manage an Injury

Orthotics refer to special heel inserts or shoes that an orthotist customizes specifically for you. A doctor may prescribe orthotics to treat a foot injury resulting from sports or an accident, legs or back problems. You wear an orthosis to correct structural or functional characteristics of the skeletal or neuromuscular system. Orthoses can help support the limbs of a patient suffering from an injury or disease to help them control or mobilize a joint or body segment. They may be used to ease pain, correct the functioning of that part of the body, restrict or enable movement or as a rehabilitation device after removing a cast.

Orthotists collaborate with the patient’s doctor and physical therapist to prescribe and design the most appropriate orthoses for the patient to help them recover or regain mobility.

How Do You Know If You Need Orthotic Services?

Orthotics are, in most cases, a part of a comprehensive treatment plan to help a patient deal with various symptoms associated with feet and leg discomfort or pain. Some of the functions of orthotic treatment include:

  • Helping the ankle or foot function better.
  • Supporting the ankle.
  • Reducing the risks of further injuries.
  • Correcting foot deformities.

When many people hear of orthotics, they think about shoe or heel inserts they can buy at an athletics store. However, it is more than that. Orthotics involves the customization of a shoe or heel inserts to suit your specific needs or conditions. In most cases, a doctor will refer you to an orthotist if off-the-shelf treatment devices and exercises have proven futile.

What Does It Involve?

An orthotist assesses and examines a patient’s specific needs during the consultation. Then he/she may discuss the patient’s needs with their doctor, physiotherapist to decide on the best treatment plan to treat the patient. These days, computer modeling programs such as CAD and CAM are used to take the affected area measurements, such as an ankle or foot sole. Then the orthotist feeds the information into a 3D printer to create the initial unit. The orthotist works with an orthotic technician to produce the final best product/orthoses in the following manufacturing stage.

The patient fits the orthoses during a further consultation, and the orthotist informs them on how to use it (fitting and removal) and its benefits. In follow-up consultation, the orthorist’s work is to ensure the patient is comfortable with the device and that it is functioning well. Adjustments and repairs may be carried out if necessary during the rehabilitation period.

What Conditions Do Orthotics Treat?

A doctor can prescribe custom orthotics for any patient with positional concerns with the foot or leg. Orthotics also support the foot and heel. They may be used to treat conditions such as:

  • Flat feet.
  • Diabetes amputation.
  • Heel spurs.
  • Injuries,
  • High arches.
  • Hammertoes.
  • Bursitis.
  • Bunions.
  • Arthritis.
  • Back pain.
  • Plantar fasciitis.

Do Orthotics Work?

Many considerations go into assessing the effectiveness of orthotics. They include the doctor’s prescription, the experience of the orthotist, the shoe in which the patient wears them, and how often. For orthotics to treat a specific condition, it must be well-fitting, and the patient must wear it correctly.


Orthotics are useful as a part of a treatment plan that addresses the symptoms of ankle and foot problems. If your doctor recommends you to an orthotist, it is best to ask what results to expect from the device.