When you hear about orthotics, you might think of those silicone or foam shoe inserts you buy in the drugstore to make your feet feel more comfortable when you walk or run. But orthotics are much more than shoe inserts. Orthotics are customized corrective medical devices made of high-tech materials that not only fit your feet but also reposition them to optimize the way you walk or run.
At Wiregrass Podiatry in Enterprise, Alabama, experienced podiatrist Jennifer Decker, DPM, may prescribe orthotics for a wide range of pain and disability. An expertly designed orthotic stabilizes and corrects your feet to improve every body part you use when walking or running — a system known as the kinetic chain. She may recommend custom-designed orthotics to alleviate chronic pain in your:
- Lower back
If you’ve been suffering from back or leg pain and haven’t found relief through other therapies, the trouble may originate in your feet.
What part of your kinetic chain is “kinked”?
When your feet hurt or your foot bones are misaligned, your body tries to compensate by changing the way you stand or move — for example, clenching muscles that normally should be relaxed. If your foot isn’t stable, you can get “kinks” anywhere along your kinetic chain, which is the series of joints and muscles that attach to your foot and move your legs.
A misaligned foot also puts pressure on your joints, including your knees and hips, leading to knee pain, hip pain, and back pain. For instance, if your foot is pronated — which means it rolls inward — your ankles and knees may turn inward, too. The inward motion of your joints destabilizes your hips.
During a consultation, Dr. Decker analyzes the position and alignment of your foot bones and evaluates your gait to locate the source of the stressors that cause your pain. Some reasons for joint pain that starts in the feet include:
- Pronation (your foot rolls in)
- Supination (your foot rolls out)
- Plantar fasciitis (inflamed ligament on the sole of your foot)
- Nerve pain
Orthotics correct alignment problems and alleviate foot pain to reduce pressure on your other joints.
Tailored for your feet
When Dr. Decker determines that your joint pain is caused by problems in your feet that can be corrected with orthotics, she takes a 3D mold of your feet and may also take a physical imprint. She sends the impressions to an orthotics lab along with a prescription to correct the problem that’s causing your pain.
She also recommends that the lab make your orthotics from select, high-tech materials. Depending on your needs, your orthotics can be:
Accommodative orthotics are made of soft materials that cushion your foot and absorb shocks. They’re good for conditions such as plantar fasciitis and foot-related complications of diabetes.
Functional orthotics are rigid and are made out of carbon fiber or state-of-the-art plastics. Their shape corrects your foot alignment problem so your kinetic chain works smoothly and painlessly.
Some accommodative orthotics require specialized prescription shoes. Functional orthotics can usually be worn with your normal street shoes, as long as they’re flat or low-heeled. Dr. Decker also custom-designs orthotics for sports shoes, including running shoes, skates, and ski boots.
Unlike store-bought shoe inserts, which do nothing to correct your gait problems, custom orthotics give your feet the support you need to walk and run pain-free. Custom-designed orthotics come with another type of support, too: Dr. Decker monitors your progress to be sure you get relief from your gait problems and pain. She may also recommend physical therapy exercises to strengthen and stretch the muscles and tendons along your kinetic chain.
To alleviate back pain, knee pain, hip pain, and foot pain, contact us today about custom orthotics. You can use the online form or just call our friendly office staff.