Orthotics are devices that are used to control abnormal foot function. When the foot is not functioning correctly, it will produce painful areas. The signs and symptoms of altered biomechanics of the foot are usually registered as pain. An orthotic can relieve that pain by supporting the ligaments and the osseous (bone) structures of the feet.
Orthotics come in many different forms. They are made from rigid materials, metal, plastic, carbon-type materials, and can be covered or not covered. But they must be made accurately.
There are several ways to construct an orthotic. One is to take a plaster impression of the foot. The newer, more advanced way is to take an optical impression of the foot. Some people use a foam based impression. But in any event the form of the foot must be captured accurately and the form is then sent to an orthotic laboratory, such as PAL Orthotics, to be transferred into a mold of the patient's foot. Corrections are made to that mold and an orthotic is made from that corrected mold.
Orthotics are used for many conditions, from childhood to adulthood:
- In children, orthotics are used to realign the arch structure, realign in-toeing and out-toeing gait problems, or to accommodate knee and hip problems.
- In the very active age group, such as runners or sports related activities, specially constructed orthotics are accommodated to the specific sporting event.
- Most professional and weekend athletes use orthotics to help increase their performance.
- In the older age group, orthotics are also used as an accommodative device for diseased areas of the foot.
- Diabetic ulcers, hallux valgus (bunions), heel spurs, plantar fascitis, and a host of osseous (bone) or arthritic types of problems can be helped by an orthotic.