Heel pain is one of the most common complaints of visitors to our office, and with good reason: estimates suggest that 10% or more of the population will develop plantar fasciitis—only one type of heel pain—at some point in their lives.
We often prescribe custom-molded orthotics for these patients, but many people are curious about how they work. There are many types of orthotics designed to accomplish different tasks, but all are made to assist your foot as needed with its important responsibilities of supporting weight, maintaining stability, moving correctly, and more.
For plantar fasciitis and other types of heel pain, often the first approach is using heel pads or cushions, made from a soft material like silicone. These custom-molded pieces are designed to absorb the extra shock of a hard heel strike. In instances where more support is needed, a harder heel cup may also be considered alongside a softer pad. These devices are broadly known as “accommodative” orthotics, because their main purpose is to accommodate a painful, sensitive area by relieving pressure and redistributing it elsewhere.
When a gait abnormality or biomechanical issue is causing extra stress on your heel, you may benefit from what’s known as a “functional” orthotic. These devices correct irregular functions or motions, keep joints in alignment, and increase stability as you move and walk. They also tend to be larger and made of harder materials, but they may also include padding similar to accommodative orthotics in sensitive areas.
Whatever the source of your heel pain, the experts at Family Foot and Ankle Center can track down the culprit and develop the right treatment plan for your situation. We will help you determine whether or not you stand to benefit from an orthotic device and, if so, what kind would be best. To schedule an appointment at one of our 6 offices in the Greater Cincinnati area, contact us online or give us a call at 513-728-4800.