What are Orthotics?

29 January 2015

What are Orthotics? Orthotics (Greek: Ορθός, ortho, "to straighten" or "align")
If we are going to be literal, 'Orthotics' is actually an area of medicine where orthoses/corrective devices are made to fit any area of the body that requires support (such as leg braces etc) 
However, when most people talk about orthotics and when we refer to orthotics/orthoses we are generally referring to custom-made inserts that fit inside the shoe.  These are designed to decrease abnormal motion of the foot.  They re-align your feet to a 'normal' position, restore balance, and serve to eliminate or reduce foot pain by improving function and efficiency.  Different orthotics styles can be worn comfortably in most types of shoes.

Common Uses for Orthotics
  • • Bunions:  The big toe joint shifts position, creating a bump.
  • • Flat foot:  The arch is unstable or weak, resulting in a foot that looks flat or pronated.
  • • Plantar Fasciitis:  The Plantar Fascia tendon running along the bottom of the foot becomes inflamed.
  • • Callus:  Skin builds up where bone presses against the bottom of the foot.
  • • Joint Problems:  too much or too little motion is allowed by the joints in the hips, knees, ankles or feet.
  • • Leg Length discrepancy:  Corresponding bones on the right and left side of the body are different lengths.
  • • Arthritis:  This disease may cause inflammation or even destroy the joints in the feet.

Orthotics can help you
Just as contacts and glasses improve vision, orthoses improve foot movement.  These custom-made inserts may relieve your symptoms by controlling the way your feet move. Orthotics may also help compensate for problems in your hip or knee that cause incorrect foot movement.  Orthotics can protect the tender areas of your foot from the wear and tear of constant use.  Even if your foot problems are best treated by surgery, orthoses may delay the need for surgery and help maintain your surgical correction following the procedure.
At Backinhealth we use several methods for examining gait (the way you walk). We use a digital pressure mat linked to software that 'maps' your foot as you walk over it. This gives us data which shows what is actually going on as you walk.. In other words we can see which parts of the foot need correcting. Then using physical examination and a system of templates we can find a comfortable fit for you. All of this information is put together and a prescription is sent to one of the orthotics labs that we use here in the UK. Usually the finished product is with you within 7-10 days. Call us on 0208 203 8977 to make an appointment to see how orthotics could benefit you. 

Tags: orthotics, Backinhealth osteopaths, orthoses, gait analysis

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