Visit a Podiatrist for Prescription Orthotics
Whatever your age or gender, at some stage in your life you may have trouble with your feet and someone may suggest you try orthotics. In simple terms, orthotics are to feet what spectacles are to eyes. The Greek definition of “ortho” is “to straighten” or “align” and in medical terms, an orthotic is used to improve, accommodate or stabilize a structural or functional problem occurring in the neuromuscular or skeletal system of the foot or lower limb.
So, orthotics can be used to improve comfort and/or function for a variety of different foot and lower limb conditions. Going back to the parallel we drew with eye conditions, you would perhaps try over-the-counter reading glasses for non-specific vision problems, but would visit an Optometrist if these didn’t help and you needed advice from an expert. In the same way, you may also consider buying over-the-counter shoe inserts for a non-specific foot problem, but should visit a podiatrist for an accurate diagnosis and prescription orthotics.
It is important to realize there is a difference between store-bought shoe inserts, called “orthotics”, and prescription orthotics because the store-bought kind are mass produced to help ease foot problems for the general population; whereas, prescription orthotics are created by specialists like Toronto-based podiatrist, Sheldon H. Nadal, D.P.M., to provide support and comfort for your feet only. According to the Ontario Podiatric Medical Association, “Podiatrists are the most highly-trained professionals in the diagnosis and treatment of foot conditions using orthotics.” This is part of their legal scope of practice, so beware of claims made by unregulated practitioners.
An expert podiatrist like Sheldon Nadal D.P.M will accurately diagnose your foot condition and will devise a treatment plan that may include prescription orthotics. For this, he may need to complete a full biomechanical evaluation to analyse the specific structural or functional cause of your problem. Depending on his diagnosis, he may also prescribe a rehabilitation program that will include stretching and exercises.
In terms of effectiveness, there is a plethora of evidence supporting the efficacy of orthotics in reducing foot pain for many people; however, feet are complex structures and biomechanical science is still evolving.