Toronto Foot Clinic prescribe and construct foot orthotics. These are specially designed devices that are worn inside the shoe in order to control abnormal foot function and/or accommodate painful areas of the foot. Properly designed foot orthotics compensate for impaired foot function by controlling abnormal motion across the joints of the foot. This results in a dramatic improvement in symptoms.
Functional foot orthotics are usually made from rigid materials, especially plastics and carbon-fibre composites. They are constructed upon a plaster impression of the feet, and modified based on the practitioners’ evaluation of the problem. They are usually quite comfortable, and do not feel hard or uncomfortable in the shoe.
Rigid orthotics normally last for 2 years; additions such as top covers and extensions may require periodic replacement. Some patients, for example the very elderly, may not tolerate rigid functional orthotics. Under these circumstances, the practitioner may prescribe an orthotic made from softer materials with special accommodations for painful areas.
Many different materials can be utilized, such as rubber, cork, leather, and soft synthetic plastics. The practitioner
is in the unique position of being able to evaluate, diagnose, and treat your foot or leg problems. If orthotics are indicated, he or she can utilize the most advanced methods of construction.
Orthotics which are prescribed at Toronto Foot Clinic are custom made for your feet, and should not be confused with ‘over the counter’ arch supports which are pre-fabricated insoles. These ‘over the counter’ supports may occasionally help with minor arch discomfort, but they frequently fail because they do not properly control foot function and/or do not properly fit the patient’s feet. On occasion, they can even exacerbate the problem.
Patients should beware that there are individuals with zero or inadequate training that masquerade as experts on foot problems and orthotics. Only Chiropodists, Podiatrists, and Medical Doctors can diagnose and manage foot and leg problems. In Ontario, the terms Chiropodist and Podiatrist are legally protected titles, however in the author’s view, the law is not adequately enforced and many people misrepresent themselves as having knowledge of Foot Biomechanics.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will orthotics correct my foot problem?
Orthotics will control the position and motion of your foot. This may prevent the development of pain and disability, and the development of additional deformity. Orthotics will not change the underlying structure of the adult foot. If they are not worn, abnormal function will immediately return. In a sense they are analogous to glasses, if you remove then you can no longer see properly.
Will orthotics fit in all my shoes?
Some shoes will not fit properly with an orthotic inside. These are usually dressy shoes with a shallow heel counter (i.e. the rear part of the shoe that wraps around the heel). Women have more fitting problems than men, due to shoe fashion.
It is possible to find dress shoes that nicely accommodate an orthotic, but choices will be more limited. There are special dress shoe orthotics that fit more easily into fashionable shoes.
After wearing my orthotics, my legs and back were sore. Is this normal?
Some people develop discomfort in the foot, leg, or lower back when they first start to wear orthotics. This is normal and is due to a realignment of the whole lower extremity and pelvis. Muscles and ligaments have to readjust to this new alignment. 80% of patients will experience intermittent moderate aches and pains. Which typically disappear after two or three weeks.
Are special orthotics required for sports?
Standard orthotics are appropriate for most activities, including sports which do not involve excessive impact on the feet. Other sports such as running, basketball, high impact aerobics, tennis, racquet sports, and golf all involve considerable ground impact and require ‘sport specific’ orthotics. Sports orthotics are fabricated from more resilient materials which dissipate some of this force. They are available in a variety of forms.