Orthotics are custom footwear inserts that are meant to aid the user in:
- Relieving pain due to conditions of the lower limb such as plantar fasciitis
- Aiding in the body’s realignment
- Improving balance
Kitchener Orthotics and Pedorthic Care
Orthotics (or Orthoses for a pair) are specially designed supports for the foot. At our clinic in Kitchener, Orthotics are one of the commonly needed solutions for patients with foot pain, heel pain (plantar fasciitis), balance problems, knee problems and lower leg problems . At LiveWell Health and Physiotherapy, we design custom orthotics for patients who will benefit from using them.
What Are Orthotics Made Of?
Orthotics are made from a variety of materials, and it truly depends on what type of Orthotic you are prescribed by your Pedorthist (someone who studies and treats the foot and lower limbs through Orthotics). The most common materials to make Orthotics are plastic and graphite—with graphite being slightly lighter and thinner than plastic.
There are two types of Orthotics—Rigid Orthotics that are sometimes refered to as Functional Orthotics, and Soft Orthotics which are referred to as Accommodative Orthotics. Functional Orthotics are designed to control the motion of the foot and lower limbs, while Soft Orthotics are meant to provide additional cushioning for those with painful feet due to calluses and foot ulcers. Most patients that seek out Orthotics need Functional Orthotics to correct the motion of their foot and provide their lower muscles extra support.
Functional Orthotics are usually made from Thermoplastic, which is a plastic blend that when heated, can be shaped and formed accordingly. Prior to creating your Orthoses, your Pedorthist will examine your foot and the surrounding ligaments in the lower leg. They will be looking for how your foot naturally sits, its shape when you walk and its shape when you put pressure on it. After this, they will have a better sense of how supportive your orthotic needs to be. To get the shape of your foot accurately, they will take measurements and two molds of your feet that will be used to create Orthoses.
Molds are taken using a stomp-box, which looks like a shoebox of light pink foam. One mold will be taken of your foot in a neutral position without any weight bearing on it from your body. The next mold will be taken of your foot in a weight-bearing position. These two molds are referenced by the laboratory and are used together to create the Orthotic. The Orthotic uses the shape of the molds to physically cast the Orthotic, with the plastic or graphite under extreme heat to contort to the necessary shape. Small alterations can be made once the patient has tried on the Orthotic to provide comfort and support when it is worn.
Different Types Of Orthotics For Patients
Not all orthotics are made equal. For example, some Orthotics may be specifically to create a higher arch in a patients foot while other Orthotics will support the heel and provide relief for those suffering with plantar fasciitis. There are some Orthotics that will need to be fully inserted in a shoe, while there are others that may only be necessary for the back half of the insole. Your Pedorthist will let you know what to expect with your Orthotics and how it will improve your foot pain and lower limb pain.
The type of Orthotics and the placement of the Orthotics will largely depend on what your Pedorthist is helping to treat. Here are some common conditions and reasons people will need Custom Orthotics:
- General Foot Pain
- Collapsed Arches in the Foot
- Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain)
- Tendonitis in the lower legs
- Diabetic foot problems
- Foot sores
- Bunions and Hammertoes
- Runner’s Knee
- General Knee Pain
Adjusting To Orthotics and Following Up
As with any new device, it can take a bit of time to adjust. Wearing your Orthotics will be a new sensation for your feet and lower limbs, so to have them feel more natural, expect it to take 1-2 weeks. You should only wear your Orthotics as recommended by your Pedorthist. Wearing them incorrectly or when they are unnecessary can damage your foot and worsen the problem.
If you find that you are not adjusting to your Orthotics, please contact LiveWell Health and Physiotherapy Centre in Kitchener so our Pedorthist can examine your progress. Sometimes, it may come down to switching your current footwear for a pair that is more supportive and works in conjunction with the Orthotics. Keep in mind, Orthotics should be reexamined and replaced every 5-10 years due to the natural wearing of the materials and to accommodate for changed bone structures and muscles.