By Christina DeBusk
Custom foot orthotics are essential to correcting biomechanical and structural foot issues—they can help relieve discomfort and pain while solving the problem that is creating it to begin with.
How are these foot treatment remedies made? By following three basic steps:
Step 1: Determining the issue
In order to know what type of foot orthotic will best help, it must first be determined what the issue is. For example, if the patient is experiencing pain from calluses, ulcerations (which are fairly common with diabetics), or some type of injury to the bottom of the foot, then an accommodative foot orthotic is often recommended.
However, if the pain is a result of joint issues, arch issues, or any other structural abnormality, then functional foot orthoses are generally suggested—especially since treating them is important to relieving or preventing pain in other connective areas, such as the knees, hips, and the lower back.
To know for sure, the patient is often asked to walk so the physician can see if there are any issues that affect proper function and position of the foot. Measurements are also taken to determine whether the angles of the joints along the foot and leg show any abnormalities.
Step 2: Crafting a mold
Once the issue is determined, a three-dimensional mold of the foot is created. This can be done by using plaster and molding the actual foot, asking the patient to place their foot in foam that retains the imprint of the foot, or by using a 3D scanner and making a mold using technology.
Step 3: Creating the foot orthotic
The final step is the actual creation of the foot orthotic itself, which starts with choosing the right material. Accommodative foot orthotics are often made from leather, foam, rubber, or cork; whereas functional foot orthotics are generally made from either plastic or graphite. The orthotic is then crafted to help correct the issue at hand.
Because accommodative foot orthotics are made from softer materials, they are usually more comfortable for the wearer than the more rigid and harder functional foot orthotics. However, this also means that they don’t stand up as well, and they have to be modified regularly because they are constantly changing form.
Although custom foot orthotics are more time intensive and cost more than over-the-counter shoe inserts, they deal with a patient’s specific issue, which means that they often offer better results.