Orthotic assessment includes a complete detailed physical assesssment of the foot and lower body as well as a gait analysis to determine need for orthotics. If your physiotherapist feels that orthotics will be of benefit, custom orthotics will be made to help correct your specific foot and gait abnormalities. PhysioNorth prepares a cast on site and uses an off-site manufacturing facility for construction of all custom-made orthotics.
What are Orthotics?
Foot orthotics take various forms and are constructed of various materials. All have the goal of improving foot function and minimizing stress forces that could ultimately cause foot deformity and pain. There are three broad categories of orthotics: those that primarily attempt to change foot function, those that are mainly protective or accommodative in nature, and those that combine functional control and accommodation.
How do they work?
Foot orthotics allow the muscles, tendons and bones of the feet and lower legs to function at their highest potential. When appropriately prescribed, orthotics can decrease pain, not only in the foot, but in other parts of the body such as the knee, hip and lower back. They can also increase stability in an unstable joint, prevent a deformed foot from developing additional problems, and improve overall quality of life.
- They are prescribed to:
- Reduce the symptoms associated with many foot related pathologies.
- Provide support
- Accommodate foot deformity
- Provide better positioning
- Relieve pressure on a certain area of the foot
- Improve the overall biomechanical function of the foot and lower extremity
Soft orthotic devices help to attenuate shock, improve balance and take pressure off uncomfortable or sore spots. They are usually made of soft, compressible materials. This type of orthotic is effective for arthritis or deformities where there is a loss of protective fatty tissue on the side of the foot. They are also helpful for people with diabetes.
Semirigid orthotic devices are often used to treat athletes. It allows for dynamic balance of the foot while running or participating in sports. By guiding the foot through proper functions, it allows the muscles and tendons to perform more efficiently. It is constructed of layers of soft materials, reinforced with more rigid materials.
Who would benefit from the use of orthotics?
- AthletesIn athletic individuals, sports activities result in a great deal of movement and pressure on the foot. Slight imbalances in the foot that are not harmful or even detectable under usual circumstances may make one more vulnerable to injury with the extra stress of sports activity. By eliminating the need for one’s muscles to compensate for imperceptible imbalances, orthotics can reduce fatigue and promote efficient muscle function to enhance performance. With enough functional correction, the foot structure can be aligned to give more propulsion, making walking, running and cycling more mechanically efficient.
- Excessive Job Stress/WeightIn apition to providing relief for painful foot problems or an injury, those who may benefit from orthotics include people who must walk or stand excessively on the job. For those who are active in sports, orthotics will often increase endurance, performance and strength. For overweight individuals, orthotics can help to counteract the extra stress on the feet, as minor problems are often magnified due to the increased weight.
- Arthritis/DiabetesOrthotics are particularly effective in relieving foot fatigue and discomfort experienced by older adults, who may have developed arthritis in their feet.