Dr. Anthony DeMaria - Greater Cincinnati and Northern, KY Podiatrist
Orthotics, also often referred to as “prescription inserts”, or “arch supports” are devices that are placed into your shoes to help assist your feet with daily activities. Think of them as “eyeglasses for your feet”. Much like prescription lenses that are designed to help your eyes focus and work more efficiently, so too are the purpose of prescription orthotics.
Feet are like snowflakes; no two are the same. Orthotics are generally prescription in nature; that is, designed to address a particular problem(s) that are unique to an individual’s foot. There is generally a process designed to capture the true architecture that is unique to your feet, such as casting, or digital scanning. Many variables are taken into consideration when fabricating prescription orthotics, such as the weight of the patient, the patient’s activity level or job requirements, the patient’s foot type (high arch, low arch) and any specific problems unique to a certain part of the patient’s foot. Often times an X-ray of the foot is studied and taken into consideration when designing an orthotic. For this reason, they are usually much more costly than an over-the-counter product. Some insurance companies will also provide coverage for prescription orthotics, depending on the policy.
There are also over-the-counter arch supports ; however, these are not “prescription” and are not specifically designed for any particular problem or set of problems, and are usually meant to be a “general purpose” type insert for minor aches and pains. They provide cushion the feet and generally do provide some level of arch support. They certainly have their niche, as they are generally much less expensive, and are typically designed to address issues that are not terribly complicated. They typically do not last as long nor wear as well as prescription inserts, especially when the patient’s foot demands are significant such as an athlete, or an employee in a factory who must stand or walk for many hours during their work shift.
I do recommend over-the-counter products when the patient does not have severe or serious, chronic problems that need to be addressed. They are much more economical, and certain types of over-the-counter inserts can even last a few months, or at least long enough to get the patient through the problem or pain they are having.
It really comes down to the variables involved in the patient’s condition as to which is better for them. So, the take home message here is…. Before you go spend a lot of money on shoes or inserts, please schedule an appointment with Dr. DeMaria to discuss what is the best option for you and your feet.
Call Ability Foot & Ankle at (859) 746-3668 to schedule an appointment to see what treatment plan is best for you.