The U.S. Government and military is also showing a heightened interest in functional foot orthotics for veterans, putting $60 million into research
Shoe inserts, or functional foot orthotics, can help correct a wide range of gait, mobility and balance issues, involving the feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Foot orthotics can also protect against future injury, such as athletic inserts that give extra support to the ankle or arch during sports activities.
“Custom foot orthotics are specially-made devices that fit inside most shoes,” says Nancy Short, MS, DC, BCAO. “They match the contours of your feet precisely and are designed for the way you move. Orthotics can help anyone with discomfort relating to walking, or imbalances in the body that are known to cause related pain. A tremendous benefit of custom orthotics is that they can be worn on a daily basis and utilized during most activities.”
The foot care product manufacturing market overall in the United States is big business, with a current estimated value of $644 million, according to IBIS World.
According to the American Orthotic Prosthetic Association (AOPA), in 2016 Medicare treatment approvals resulted in more than $1 billion in Medicare expenditures on orthotics, and more than 2.11 million expenditures, accounting for $717 million in services, were covered by Medicaid for patients seeking foot and ankle care. The AOPA also reports that timely orthotic care may save up to 23% of the medical costs a patient experiences as opposed to costs when those services are not provided.
The U.S. Government and military is also showing a heightened interest in orthotics, as the AOPA reports, “About $60 million in government funding by the United States is headed toward research that is related to orthotic needs, with an emphasis on providing services and supports to veterans.”
Diseases such as diabetes, obesity, arthritis are also driving an increase in the popularity and prescribing of functional foot orthotics. Approximately 7% of U.S. adults and children suffer from diabetes, the leading cause of lower limb amputations, according to the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetics, and the numbers are only going up due to the obesity epidemic in the U.S.
According to IndustryARC, the North American region has around a 45% share of the roughly $3.5 billion global foot orthotic insoles market.
“The custom foot insoles are divided into sports, medical and comfort segment, which caters to the needs of different consumer segments,” reports IndustryARC. “Growing demand for custom foot insoles market is mainly driven by aging population and rising healthcare spending worldwide. This will spur the usage of custom foot insoles across the globe as they promise correct alignment and relief while being affordable and easily accessible. The growing customized foot insoles segment work on the concept of 3D printing, in which the foot can be scanned and the insole can be manufactured with the exact measurements. The increased focus on sports activities is also going to be one of the driving factors of this market segment.”
Dr. Michael Nirenberg, an Indiana podiatrist, says that helping his patients’ feet and ankles work correctly subsequently correct issues in the knee, hip, or back. He says he entered the practice after seeing his father suffer knee pain that was corrected with a custom-fitted functional foot orthotics.
“To this day, if he stops wearing custom-made foot orthotics for any length of time and starts doing a lot of walking or running, his knee pain comes back,” Nirenberg told the Northwest Indiana Times. “(The orthotic) is built so it will push your foot and your ankle, and your whole lower leg for that matter, to work as correctly as possible for that person…An orthotic is a little different than an arch support because it’s custom made just for that athlete to allow them to do their sport better.”
Custom functional foot orthotics can be prescribed by chiropractors for both improved athletic performance and correction of musculoskeletal imbalances and disorders. If something is wrong in the body’s natural alignment, the feet will tell you.