Custom Foot Orthotics
Have you stumbled across the funny looking devices that you stuff in your shoes that somehow protect you from injury? If you have ever been to a podiatrist or physiotherapy clinic for a running injury or other foot related injury, it is likely that a similar device has been recommended to you. These devices known as orthotics are designed to treat or prevent injury. Let’s take a look at what custom fitted orthotics really are and the process to fit them properly.
So what exactly are custom fitted orthotics?
Custom fitted orthotics are custom foot supports. They are designed specifically to fit your feet better than over-the-counter arch supports and help your feet and legs function more efficiently.
Who uses orthotics?
Orthotics are most commonly used by people who suffer from arch and heel pain (plantar fasciitis), problems with the Achilles and posterior tibial tendon (lower leg tendonitis), shin splints, iliotibial band syndrome, and “runners knee”.
The custom orthotics procedure:
Custom made orthotics are carefully planned before being fabricated. Steps to insure the right orthotics are made include: history of the injury, biomechanical examination, gait analysis, 3 dimensional plaster casting, semi-weight bearing casting, neutral position casting, 3 dimensional laser scanning, and prescription writing.
History of the injury: The process begins in this stage by you discussing the extent of the problem and the pain associated. The goal is to establish how the problem got to the point it’s at now.
Biomechanical examination: This examination of your feet and lower limbs will be completed while you are either standing or lying on an examination table. The motion of joints and alignment of bones will be evaluated. The examination will determine if there is a bone misalignment within the foot or between the foot and lower leg. These misalignments can cause stress on muscles, tendons, or ligaments, leading to pain or discomfort.
Gait analysis: This analysis will determine if you have one leg shorter than the other or if you have one foot that is flatter than the other.
3 Dimensional plaster casting: Plaster casting is used to determine the exact 3 dimensional contours of your foot. The casting method that is used to capture the contours of the foot is determined by the flexibility of the joints in your foot.
Semi-weight bearing casting: If your joint motion is limited due to arthritis, your foot will be casted using a semi-weight bearing cast method. This process takes place in a sitting position with your foot on the floor.
Neutral position casting: If your joint motion is not limited, your foot will be casted in the non-weight bearing neutral position cast method. This takes place while you are lying on an examination table.
3 Dimensional laser scanning: Casting can also be performed using a laser scanner. Using at least 2 lasers and 2 cameras, the scanner captures all of the anatomical contours of the plantar aspect of the foot.
Prescription writing: All of the information gained from all of the tests and casting will culminate in a carefully written prescription and specifically designed orthotic.