If you're living with arthritis pain or fatigue in your feet, custom-made shoe inserts can provide significant relief. Here's the scoop on what you need, why you need them, and how to go about getting them.

What is an Orthotic?
An orthotic is a custom-made, prescription shoe insert designed to correct the way you walk in order to relieve pain caused by any abnormalities in your feet that affect your walking pattern. Knee braces, therapeutic taping, and fully corrective shoes that help restore joint function are also considered orthotic devices.

How Does an Orthotic Work?
An orthotic supports your foot, helps prevents deformities or prevents existing deformities from worsening, repositions your foot for better balance, normalizes function and, as a result, reduces pain. Orthotics also relieve pain by removing stress and pressure from your feet and ankle, which can ultimately also reduce or eliminate pain in your knees, hips, or lower back.

Why Custom-Made?
Twenty-six different bones work together with a variety of muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your feet to support the rest of your body. Custom-made orthotics are designed to provide pain relief exactly where you need it. Unlike pre-fabricated, "one-size fits all" shoe inserts and bandage-like braces that are available wherever foot care products are sold, custom-made orthotics are shaped to fit your individual feet and to correct or compensate for specific problems.

A Good Fit
Custom-made orthotics are expensive and take time to produce. The sooner and better you communicate your needs to your doctor and the sooner and better your doctor communicates the prescription to the orthotic manufacturer, the better-fitting and more useful the orthotic is likely to be. It is also important to continue to communicate with your doctor about comfort and effectiveness on an ongoing basis. You may ultimately need a different orthotic or more than one pair or type of orthotic devices to correct different problems or to use for different types of activities.

Not for Everyone
Not everyone benefits from the use of orthotics, however, and not everyone can tolerate the shift in pressure and alignment required to correct a problem in their feet. That's another reason why it's preferable to speak to your doctor about prescription orthotics rather than try to self-treat lower-extremity arthritis with prefabricated shoe inserts. If orthotics are not for you, your doctor may be able to suggest other solutions.



Positano, Rock G. "Prescription Food Orthotics Can Help You Put Your Best Foot Forward." Hospital for Special Surgery. 12/13/2010 Web July 2012

Pruitt, A. "Orthotic and Brace use in the Athlette with Degenerative Joint Disease with Angular Deformity." Clinics in Sports Medicine 24; 2005:93-99 Web July 2012