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Do Orthotics Help Foot PainFoot pain can happen anywhere on the foot, but it is especially common in the ball of the foot, along the arch and at the heel. The ball of the foot incurs a lot of force when you take a step, jump or run. Your heels also experience a lot of force when you walk or stand on your feet for extended periods of time. The arches may develop pain because the soft tissues become stretched, inflamed or swollen. Orthotics that are custom-made for you by your podiatrist are designed to relieve specific types of foot pain.

How Orthotics Work

To answer the question of "Do orthotics help foot pain?", it is important to understand how the devices work and what they are. There are two main categories of orthotic devices. One type is available over-the-counter. These products consist of flexible foam or gel-filled inserts that you place inside of your shoe. They are designed to supplement the cushioning of the insole that is already in your shoe. The second category is custom orthotic devices made just for you by the podiatrist. To make the customized inserts, the podiatrist makes a mold of your foot. The customized orthotic device is made from plastic with layers of leather and foam for durability, protection and comfort. They slide into your shoe and fit underneath of your foot while you stand or walk.

Why Orthotic Inserts Help With Painful Feet

The second part of the answer to "Do orthotics help foot pain?" is about the mechanics of taking a step. The forces on the different parts of your foot cause minor traumas, such as tissue swelling, irritation of a nerve or tiny stress fractures. The arch support of the hard plastic part of the orthotic device helps to align your foot properly within the shoe. It keeps the bones of your feet aligned so that the forces of walking or running are distributed properly instead of focused on one area. The cushioning parts of the orthotic devices absorb some of the impact of taking a step, reducing the amount of force that is transmitted to your bones and soft tissues. The combination of support and cushioning is what reduces your foot pain.

Painful Foot Conditions Helped By Orthotic Devices

There are many types of painful foot conditions that could benefit from the use of customized orthotic inserts. Some foot problems are often successfully treated with the use of orthotic shoe inserts. These conditions include:
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Prominent big toe joints
  • Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • High arches
  • Flat feet
  • Over-pronation
  • Heel spurs
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Sesamoiditis
  • Sesamoid fractures

When you meet with the podiatrist, it is a good idea to share which activities tend to aggravate your pain. This could affect the types of materials that are used in the creation of your orthotic device. The mechanics of running are different than the mechanics of walking.