Custom Orthotics--Are they really better than the Over the Counter Insoles?


What is a custom orthotic?

A custom orthotic is a shoe insert that is made to exactly fit the contour of your foot.  Orthotics are used for a variety of foot conditions including heel pain, flat feet, pain in the ball of the foot, high arched feet, various ligament and tendon injuries, diabetes, arthritis and many more.  They are made by taking a cast mold of the foot, which is sent to a lab for precise fitting of the shape of the foot with specialized prescription modifications that help the foot to function in its most ideal position.


Orthotics work by decreasing high pressure areas, stabilizing the foot alignment and cushioning the foot.  They also help to stabilize the foot during the walking cycle to adjust abnormalities in walking.  Orthotics are like glasses- they only work when you wear them. Orthotics will not permanently change your anatomy. It does make sense that they would aid in the prevention of injuries and some arthritic conditions of the lower half of your body. Orthotics have a synergistic effect with other treatments such as physical therapy, stretching, icing, anti-inflammatory medicines and in some cases surgical correction of the foot.


How will my orthotics feel?

When orthotics are first worn, it is common to have arch soreness or discomfort for a short period of time, but when properly fit they will help alleviate foot pain and help to correct poorly aligned feet and ankles.  Pain in new areas, blistering or redness, while rare, can occur initially and should be reported to your doc tor so that your orthotics can be adjusted.  Custom orthotics are made I such a way that their shape can be changed by your doctor for an even better fit.  It is common for your orthotics to feel stiff at first but with some wear this stiffness will allow your foot to be properly supported and will feel better than before.  Although symptomatic relief will not occur over night, consistently wearing orthotics for a period of time will help realign your feet and allow healing to occur as well as help prevent future pain or injury.


Are orthotics adjustable?

Yes.  As discussed above your doctor can adjust your orthotics to make them a truly custom fit.  These adjustments can be made by the lab as well, depending on the type of adjustment needed.  There are many areas that may need adjustment and this versatility allows for the best fit for each individual.


Are custom orthotics covered by insurance?

Coverage for custom orthotics varies by insurance plan.  Our staff will review your insurance coverage to determine of custom orthotics is a covered service on your plan.  Please be aware that we can only forward the coverage information to you that the insurance company gives us.  This is not a guarantee of coverage since the insurance company cannot guarantee benefits until the claim is processed.  If you are concerned that your insurance company does not cover custom orthotics, we urge you to call them and confirm coverage.  They may ask for the billing code, which is L3000.  Please feel free to ask our staff if you have any questions or concerns.  We are here to help you and our primary concern is your complete satisfaction and well-being.


How long do custom orthotics take to make?

The time needed for custom orthotics to be made and return to our office is approximately 3-4 weeks.  There are a variety of factors involved including the company used, the speed of shipping and the complexity of the orthotic prescription.  We will give you a custom estimate of the time it will take when you are molded for custom orthotics.


What are the alternatives to custom orthotics?

There are many kinds of ‘off the shelf’ or prefabricated orthotics on the market today, many of which can be purchased at the pharmacy or supermarket.  These vary greatly in quality and function.  There are many different foot types and most of these insoles are geared toward being soft rather than being supportive.  Soft insoles, while they feel good on the skin, do not properly support the arch and can cause more harm in some cases.  There are also a variety of higher end prefabricated orthotics that can be selected by your doctor to match your foot type, and in some cases these may be sufficient to support your foot condition.  In all cases, prefabricated orthotics lack the custom fit of your foot and the durability provided by custom orthotics.  A prefabricated orthotic will last about a year on average, where a quality custom orthotics can last for more than 10 years!


Where can I get custom orthotics?

The doctors at Advanced Foot and Ankle Center have special training in all types of foot and ankle conditions and well versed in treating these conditions with custom orthotics in people of all ages, from young children to the geriatric population. 


If you have questions please feel free to call the office and members of our staff will be happy to assist you.



Advanced Foot and Ankle Center