What is a custom functional orthotic device?

Simply put, it is a custom made device from either a 3Dimensional digital or plaster mould of your foot, the shell and angled base of which are specific to your body weight, activity and structural misalignment. They can be rigid, semi-rigid, and semi-flexable; with decreasing rigidity, the devices become less functionally active. They may be made from thermoplastics, graphite, cork, leather and in the past even made from steel.

Does every foot problem require custom functional orthotic devices?

Yes! …….No I’m kidding! 

Very frequently if a mild underlying structural problem is identified, simple changes can be recommended in footwear design, shoe wearing habits, and activities to produce significant improvements in control, function and comfort. Two groups in which this is often the case are, retirees (spending considerable time in their homes) and young developing children.

How does a functional orthotic actually work?

The goal of the functional orthotic is to work in conjunction with appropriate footwear, so that you can be supported in such a way as to enable the muscles controlling your foot structure to regain their mechanical advantage, enabling shock absorption, improved stability/balance, control load distribution and even have a significant influence on overall body posture and alignment.

What will custom orthotics Not do?

They will not fix backs, hips, knees or enable us to play the piano!. As stated before they can, if properly prescribed and utilized, have a very positive influence in shock absorption,  improve stability and overall postural alignment. This will most certainly decrease some of the inflammatory influences in disabling knee, hip and back pain. Beware of unrealistic expectations and promises.

Will it work in every shoe for me?

No!, some shoes are not suitable for any orthotic, and depending upon orthotic design they can be restrictive or versatile. It is a great idea to have a sample of your shoes present when deciding upon appropriate orthotic design versus function.

Do I need several devices?

Often times not, but it depends upon the variety of footwear worn, and the lifestyle you lead. Simply put, playing tennis and wearing dress shoes for the office require very different skills and orthotic design, ideally.

How should it be made?

The shape of the foot should be captured, non weight bearing, in either 3D digital scanning or plaster/fibreglass contact casting. The shell must be of a rigidity necessary to produce functional change relative to your body weight. Simply put once again, if the shell of the device is soft it will have very little effect, positive or negative. To the exterior of the shell the corrective prescription is added and/or ground to a prescribed degree. In dress devices these surfaces may be smaller and more subtle, but should be obviously present in true custom functional orthotic device.

How long should a custom orthotic last?

There is no fixed lifespan for an orthotic device.The best gauge of orthotic function is the return of symptoms or perceived lack of control. Semi-rigid functional devices often will last 3-4 years, this will vary greatly with design, activity and changes in body mass. Any suggestion of annual or set periodic replacement should lead you to question the motivation and expertise of the provider.

Will I need to come back to the office once I get my orthotic?

Yes most certainly, follow up visits are vital to ensure the best possible outcome of the custom prescription. Many modifications are possible although often not necessary. The followup visits will likely be unlimited and be included in the fee charged for your devices so as not to deter you from returning to achieve satisfaction.