Whether you’ve been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis or simply suffer from foot pain that has yet to be diagnosed, there are several treatments available to you that can relieve your symptoms and help restore your natural gait.
When you’re searching for the right treatment, there are two highly effective solutions you should be aware of, which include custom-made shoes and orthotics. Despite the similarities between these two treatments, they differ in a number of ways. This article offers a comprehensive guide about the differences between custom-made shoes and orthotics.
Differences Between Custom-Made Shoes and Orthotics
Custom-made shoes are made from 100% raw materials to facilitate recovery from more severe foot problems and abnormalities. While there are plenty of reasons to select custom-made shoes, they are mainly designed to assist with congenital deformities, traumatic injuries, and chronic diseases that affect one or both feet. Conditions like diabetes and arthritis can lead to significant problems that may be able to be treated with custom-made shoes.
Before you purchase custom-made shoes, keep in mind that a special process is needed to properly design these shoes. Before you receive a pair of custom-made shoes, a “last” will be made of your entire foot.
This is a type of 3D model that accurately displays your foot and ankle. The model is designed from a cast of your foot. Once the “last” has been made, the shoes will be built to reflect your exact measurements.
While pre-made shoes can provide some relief from the symptoms associated with most foot problems, custom-made shoes are designed specifically for your feet, which allows for much more effective care.
As for orthotics, these are corrective devices or inserts that are placed inside of your shoe. Depending on the foot problems you’re experiencing, it’s possible for orthotics to improve lower leg functions and strengthen the health of your tendons, bones, and muscles. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, wearing orthotics may relieve your symptoms and bolster your mobility. In order for custom orthotics to be made, a 3D image must be taken of your entire foot.
If you are prescribed custom-made orthotics to treat a specific medical condition, these inserts can decrease foot pain as well as any pain in your hips, lower back, or knees that may be caused by your foot problem. While it’s certainly possible to find pre-made orthotics in retail stores, they won’t provide the same level of relief.
Custom orthotics must be prescribed by a doctor, which should give you confidence that the treatment will be effective. Before you buy orthotics, keep in mind that there are many different types to select from, which include everything from athletic orthotics to high-impact orthotics. The exact type of pain or medical condition you’re suffering from will dictate what type of orthotic you receive.
The primary difference between custom-made shoes and custom orthotics is that custom-made shoes are designed to be worn just like a basic pair of shoes. Once you’ve received your pair of custom-made shoes, all you need to do is slip them on to start the healing process. Custom orthotics are insoles that can be placed in custom-made shoes or in a standard pair of shoes. Orthotics can be additive to custom-made shoes.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Custom-Made Shoes
Custom-made shoes offer some distinct advantages and disadvantages that you should be aware of. For one, these shoes provide great foot support, which is why they are commonly prescribed for more severe foot problems. Keep in mind that not having the right amount of foot support can lead to some of the more common foot problems like plantar fasciitis and flat feet.
While custom-made shoes offer fantastic arch support, they also deliver enhanced support across every aspect of your foot and ankle. For instance, a well-made custom shoe should provide better cushioning below your heel. In the event that your foot pain is severe or you suffer from a chronic health condition of some sort, you may be prescribed with custom-made shoes.
Another notable benefit of buying custom-made shoes is that there are a wide range of different styles of shoes to select from. Along with casual shoes and walking shoes, it’s also possible to obtain custom-made dress shoes or high-impact boots. As mentioned previously, your doctor can help you determine which type of shoe is right for you.
While there are numerous benefits that come with wearing custom-made shoes for the foot problem you’re experiencing, there are also a few issues that you should be aware of. First of all, it’s important to understand that your foot pain may not dissipate by wearing custom-made shoes. Even though these shoes are designed to provide relief from numerous foot problems, they aren’t effective for everyone, which is why you should set realistic expectations before making your purchasing decision.
These shoes can also be expensive depending on the exact pair that you require. Because custom-made shoes are designed to provide expansive support for your foot, you may find that the shoe that best suits your ailment is too heavy, which could actually worsen your pain. Before you determine if custom-made shoes or orthotics are right for you, you should compare the pros and cons of both options.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Orthotics
Custom orthotics can be highly beneficial since they are designed to fit the contours of your feet. Among the best aspects of orthotics is that they are made from thin and comfortable materials that can fit easily into the bottom of your shoes. Since this insole is customized to the structure of your foot, you can be confident that it won’t worsen the pain you’re currently experiencing.
Many people who experience foot pain believe that the solution is to buy a better pair of shoes. However, pre-made shoes aren’t designed around your exact foot measurements, which means that they might not provide the relief you’re looking for. You won’t have this issue with orthotics.
To understand just how beneficial orthotics can be, keep in mind that your feet directly support your spine, which allows orthotics to keep your hips, ankles, knees, and spine in their proper positions. Once these joints have coordinated motions, it’s less likely that you’ll suffer from pain in your back or lower limbs. In general, orthotics provide a certain amount of cushion at the bottom of your shoe that should invariably make your feet more comfortable when you’re walking.
The main issue with wearing orthotics is that the inclusion of an insole in your shoe can create issues with the condition with some of your foot muscles. The intrinsic foot muscles that are located in the soles of your feet will work less because of the added support provided by insoles. If you don’t use these muscles when you walk or exercise, they will weaken over time, which could lead to other issues in the long run.
Common Foot Problems that Custom-Made Shoes or Orthotics Can Help
There are many notable foot problems that can be aided by custom-made shoes and orthotics. While custom-made shoes are able to assist with nearly every foot problem that a person can experience, they are specifically designed to aid in alleviating the pain caused by severe foot problems. For instance, if you have a structural deformity in one or both of your feet, custom-made shoes could lessen your pain and discomfort. The same is true if you’ve experienced a traumatic injury to your lower limbs.
In the event that you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or arthritis, custom-made shoes can help you recover from the more serious complications caused by these conditions. For instance, a serious case of arthritis may lead to a substantial bone deformity, which can be tended to with custom-made shoes. As for orthotics, these custom insoles can alleviate conditions like:
- Shin splints
- Plantar fasciitis
- Knee pain
- Flat feet
- Ankle sprains
- Hip pain
- Achilles tendonitis
- Heel or ankle pain
If you’re thinking about ordering orthotics or custom-made shoes, remember that most insurance providers require orders to be submitted by December 31. At Care-Med, final orders are usually placed by December 10, which means that any orders that are made after December 10 might not be ready for the December 31 deadline.