They go by many names and offer many different effects to different people but foot orthoses have been used by Podiatrist’s and the general public to help relieve foot and lower limb pain for years. They regularly go by the name of orthotics, insoles and pies but the accurate Podiatry term is either custom or prefabricated foot orthoses.
Podiatrists usually use foot orthoses in combination with a rehabilitation program to manipulate pressures and tissue loads on joints, tendons, muscles and skin to garner a positive effect for our clients.
Years ago we used to think there was normal and abnormal alignment of the foot and ankle; and as a tool we would use foot orthoses to ‘re-align’ the foot and lower limb as this was the cause of the underlying complaint. With subsequent research, experiments and learnings we now know this isn’t the case.
Firstly, there is no such thing as ‘normal alignment’ - we are all different and all have our own individualised model of foot function.
Secondly, orthoses don’t consistently affect movement patterns of the foot and ankle but they do consistently affect how much pressure is placed on certain structures; so not necessarily re-aligning our skeletons!
Therefore our approach to using foot orthoses is as individualised as the patient in front of us:
- Identify the structure that is symptomatic
- Assess how the individual’s foot function is affecting how hard the structure is working
- Identify how we can reduce how hard the sore structure is working
Reducing the stress on what’s sore in the foot and ankle is commonly achieved by using footwear and orthoses to lower the load on the sore areas by re-distributing it across the healthy areas. By achieving this, orthoses help optimise healing but also allow exercise programs aimed at increasing our strength and mobility to progress.
Now, if you’ve read this far you’re probably thinking does that really mean I still need to be wearing the foot orthoses I was prescribed 10 years ago? The answer is maybe.
For most, orthoses are used as part of a rehabilitation program for the short-medium term (think 3-12 months) until the initially injured structure has recovered - like a sling. For a small amount of people the orthoses need to be used on an ongoing basis due to their individual foot function and risk status. This is a decision that should be made in conjunction between you and your treating Podiatrist; and don’t be afraid to ask it!
If this has raised some questions or queries at all don’t hesitate to get in contact with one of our Podiatrist’s here at Revive who are always happy to help.
For more information, call our office on 6272 4000 or click here to make a booking.