- Needing a pair of orthotics?
- Heard mixed messages on how effective they are?
- Aren’t they all the same anyway?
If you’ve ever even CONTEMPLATED getting orthotics – read this first!
Let me start by answering a question that goes through almost all of my patients minds at some point – nope, orthotics are definitely NOT all the same and when the right orthotic is properly designed for my patients foot using the right materials and design skills that come from years of experience (and very honestly, learning from previous mistakes that others are still making today), yes they ABSOLUTELY do alleviate foot, ankle and low-er limb pain.
In fact, orthotics couldn’t be more different – and in many ways, they should be! Let me explain while answering a few concerns I often hear:
- Are my orthotics going to be like my pair from my previous podiatrist?
- I know someone that has had orthotics before but they didn’t help him?
- What do orthotics actually do?
Let me start in answering these with the first and most important point:
The way your orthotics look and how effective they are are dependent entirely on the skills and preferences of your podiatrist! Yes – your specific podiatrist alone dictates how they are made and using the resources, materials and skills they have available at any point in time. If your podiatrist wants to heat-mold a pre-made, soft, thin orthotic and add a colourful harder piece and call that a custom-made orthotic, then that’s what you get. If you get plaster-cast and the cast gets sent to Canada for a firm, plastic-like device to come back, then that’s the orthotic you get.
What does this mean? Simply and unfortunately put, you may receive a lower quality product (often associated with a cheaper price) that claims to do the same thing, but often fails to produce the same results (pain relief!) and tends to have a shorter shelf-life. Think of it as buying make-up (clearly, this is written from a female perspective). You’re after a lipstick. Sure, you can buy an $8 lipstick from pretty much anywhere, but we know it will never compare to buying a Mac lipstick, that you’ll love and keep using until the very very end.
So how do I know if my orthotics will be good? Don’t be afraid to ask! They should be more than happy to talk you through the process – I LOVE talking through our orthotic design and manufacture – from the extensive testing of the range of motion of your foot and ankle joints to muscle strength, foot posture index, video gait analysis and 3D laser scanning your foot! But that’s only the part you see – it all then collides when our principal podiatrist and founder, Brenden Brown, designs every single one of our patients orthotics (yes, over all of our clinics!) himself, using his 20 years of experience and the widest range of materials I’ve ever seen as a podiatrist. BUT THEN, our CAD/CAM milling machine actually mills out the base of your orthotic, all in our VERY OWN (and very exciting!) orthotic lab, and hand finished by our orthotic technicians! It’s safe to say that it’s a little more technical than sticking two bits of material together and naming it an orthotic, and FAR more effective.
Finally, think about what your orthotics do! Orthotics have a FUNCTIONAL purpose to alter the alignment of your foot, changing different pressures and strains over your muscles, bones, joints and exactly where you’re having your pain. They address the CAUSE of your lower limb problems to provide you with long-term relief, and when designed and created right, they do this VERY well.
Happy orthotic hunting!
Dr Nina Lansdowne
Podiatrist and Superstar Blog writer