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An orthotic device (or orthoses) is a shoe insert which you may be recommended following a biomechanical assessment / gait analysis with a Podiatrist. These can be either pre-fabricated devices (not bespoke to an individual but a cheaper option) or custom made devices which are manufactured from a plaster cast of the feet and a bespoke prescription.

Orthoses can benefit individuals in many ways:

Improve shock absorption
Improve stability (proprioception)
Alter problematic foot mechanics
Change moments around joints (e.g. decrease pronation at the sub-talar joint)
Reduce force within injured tissue

Orthoses will usually feel very strange at first and a period of slow and gradual introduction is often advised. You can often play sport on an orthotic device within 2 weeks of its issue, although everyone is different with respect to how they adapt to this change in position and movement of the foot.

Orthoses have been show to be of benefit in many lower limb conditions such as:

Big Toe Problems
Foot Tendon Problem
Rigid Foot Types
‘Flat Feet’
Heel Pain and Plantar fasciitis
Shin Pain (’Shin splints’)
Knee Pain
Back Pain

Custom made orthoses often come with a lifetime guarantee against breakage, but may require some maintenance to prolong their life, whereas pre-fabricated orthoses can often only last 1-2 years. A Podiatrist can advise you of the expected life span of a particular device depending on its structure and the activities being performed upon it.

Individuals seeing the Podiatrist under their private medical insurance should note that orthotic devices are not covered by any UK insurance provider so the cost has to be met by the patient.

Wayne Edwards

MD & Director of Podiatry

Wayne graduated from the London Foot hospital in 1991.

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