Orthotics, also known as orthoses, refers to any device inserted into a shoe, ranging from felt pads to custom-made shoe inserts that correct an abnormal or irregular, walking pattern. Sometimes calledarch supports, orthotics allow people to stand, walk, and run more efficiently and comfortably. While over-the-counter orthotics are available and may help people with mild symptoms, they normally cannot correct the wide range of symptoms that prescription foot orthoses can since they are not custom made to fit an individual's unique foot structure.

Orthotic devices come in many shapes, sizes, and materials and fall into three main categories: those designed to change foot function, those that are primarily protective in nature, and those that combine functional control and protection.

Rigid OrthoticsA variety of shoes with orthotics being used

Rigid orthotic devices are designed to control function and are used primarily for walking or dress shoes. They are often composed of a firm material, such as plastic or carbon fiber. Rigid orthotics are made from a mold after a podiatrist takes a plaster cast or other kind of image of the foot. Rigid orthotics control motion in the two major foot joints that lie directly below the ankle joint and may improve or eliminate strains, aches, and pains in the legs, thighs, and lower back.

Soft Orthotics

Soft orthotics are generally used to absorb shock, increase balance, and take pressure off uncomfortable or sore spots. They are usually effective for diabetic, arthritic, and deformed feet. Soft orthotics are typically made up of soft, cushioned materials so that they can be worn against the sole of the foot, extending from the heel past the ball of the foot, including the toes. Like rigid orthotics, soft orthotics are also made from a mold after a podiatrist takes a plaster cast or other kind of image of the foot.

Semi-Rigid Orthotics

Semi-rigid orthotics provide foot balance for walking or participating in sports. The typical semi-rigid orthotic is made up of layers of soft material, reinforced with more rigid materials. Semi-rigid orthotics are often prescribed for children to treat flatfoot and in-toeing or out-toeing disorders. These orthotics are also used to help athletes mitigate pain while they train and compete.

Customized Orthotics

We utilize over 15 different types of custom made orthotics that are fabricated at different national labs. Each orthotic is fitted from a custom mold utilizing neutral position casting techniques. These orthotics are custom fit to each individual and can be utilized in all shoes. Dress orthotics are available that can be designed and made to fit into 2 to 3 inch high heels. Sports orthotics are utilized with individual specifications to each sport including ski and hockey boots, football, baseball, soccer, and track cleats, basketball, running, and volleyball shoes, and all other sports activities.

There are a variety of different orthotics utilized for running from a marathon style orthotic to specialty inserts that can be adapted to track spikes and ballroom dancing shoes. Diabetic orthotics are also evaluated in a similar manner with a custom molded cast impression that can accommodate pressure sensitive areas and ulcers with specific materials that are conducive to desensitize the neuropathic foot. It is our experience that over 50% of all insurance companies cover custom made orthotics.

Custom orthotics can help restore your mobility. For more information on custom made orthotics, call our Albuquerque, NM podiatry office at (505) 247-4164.