Orthotics are a compensatory device that are used to correct a sub-optimal foot position in people who are having problems of a biomechanical origin.
Unfortunately, we see these devices over-prescribed in the general public. There are many people walking around with orthotics that do not need them. They have become big business in the health-care sector and generate major revenue for the big orthotic manufacturers.
Before considering orthotics people should make sure that have had a thorough assessment of the problem by a chartered physiotherapist. Orthotics should never be used as a treatment in themselves for a problem. They should be used as an adjunct to treatment. There are always other avenues to pursue in addressing a problem such as stretching, strengthening, activity modification and load management strategies, prior to prescribing orthotics.
The cost of orthotics varies greatly. This is because the quality of material and the level of customisation of the devices varies greatly. There are three main levels of orthotic available. The cheapest and most commonly worn is the off-the-shelf type that is available in physiotherapy clinics, sports shops or pharmacies. These are usually trimmed to the size that is required and to fit the shoe. We would not recommend this type of device as, if you need to adjust the length of the orthotic, you are also adjusting where the support is positioned on the foot and this is not ideal.
The second type, which we do use regularly at Sportsplus Physiotherapy Clinic, is a heat mouldable device. These are ordered specifically to the size required and are softened using a heat gun and moulded to the individuals foot while they are hot. This gives a level of customisation that is unavailable in the off-the-shelf type which is much better for the wearer. They are still a temporary device but they do last 6-9 months and we use them to see if orthotics are going to be of benefit to the individual before they spend money on bespoke orthotics.
They top level of orthotic is an orthotic that is bespoke and made to suit the contours of the individual’s foot. Additions can be added to various areas of the orthotic as required. We have tried many different methods of assessment and many orthotic manufacturers is our quest to get the best orthotics for out clients. We currently use a 3D scanning method which creates a virtual 3D model of the individual’s feet detailing every contour of the arches of the feet. We send that, with photographs of the individual’s feet, footwear and previous orthotics if relevant, to a lab in Spain who 3D print the orthotics for us. We have been using this system since 2018 and find it and the orthotics printed better than any products we have used in the past. The benefit of having a 3D printed orthotic is that it is all the one piece so they do not crack or separate. The density of the orthotic material can be varied throughout the same orthotic so that areas of increased pressure can be cushioned and areas that require support can be facilitated.
If you have any questions regarding orthotics or how we assess or prescribe them please feel free to contact us on 067-42837.