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Family Foot & Ankle

All About Orthotics

Learn about the different types of orthoticsYour feet are amazingly complex constructions. Out of 206 bones in your body, 52—fully a quarter of the total!—are found in your feet and ankles. These bones, and the attached ligaments, tendons, and tissues, bear the full force of your weight every day. Sometimes they may need the help of orthotics to function the way they should.

With so many moving parts that have to work together in harmony to keep you up and mobile, it’s perhaps not surprising that hereditary defects, injuries, poor footwear, and even wear and tear from a lifetime of activity can cause foot issues. Bunions, hammertoes, corns, heel pain, metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuroma, flat feet, high arches, and more can make something as simple as standing and walking painful or difficult. That’s where custom supports for your feet come in.

Inserts vs. Orthotics

Shoe inserts can be found anywhere, from department stores to supermarkets. They may provide temporary pain relief for many, and for milder issues may be all you need. But they aren’t custom-made for your unique feet, and they can’t correct biomechanical issues such as gait abnormalities.

When you come to Family Foot and Ankle Center for a custom orthotic, we’ll take detailed measurements of your feet and craft the perfect companion for your unique foot shape.  More than simple over-the-counter shoe inserts, orthotics are custom-made to your exact specifications, cradling the contours of your feet precisely to provide whatever protection, support, or cushioning you need.

Custom supports are also much more durable than the generic alternative available in stores. While you might blow out a pair of shoe inserts in a couple of months, with a little bit of care and occasional maintenance checks to make sure the fit is still good, a good orthotic can last for years.

Soft vs. Hard Orthotics

The materials used to create these custom pieces are as varied as the conditions they are used to correct and treat. If you just need a little extra cushioning and support (say for a painful neuroma or unusually high arches), it may be made from a soft material and positioned where you need extra support. These are called accommodative, because they accommodate painful conditions by balancing pressure away from sensitive spots.

If the source of your pain is abnormal motion, the device may be made from a harder material such as plastic or graphite. These are called functional, because they actually alter how your body and joints function and move.

Different Types of Orthotics

Maybe you don’t need a full-contact or full-length insert. A simple heel flare, for example, is often the best choice to treat heel pain from plantar fasciitis or heel spurs, and a wedge-shaped piece can help avert complications from flat feet. Toe separators may be the right choice for between-toe corns, or toe crests to ease pressure on the tops of hammer or claw toes.

Whatever the source of your pain may be, there’s a good chance we can help find you the right tool to address your stubborn, chronic discomfort.

Seeking Help

It’s often difficult to ask for help, especially if you’re not sure what’s wrong. It’s important, though. Your feet have a hard job, and you need them in top shape to live the life you want to live. If serious, persistent foot and ankle pain is keeping you from the things you love, call Family Foot and Ankle Center to see if a custom orthotic can help you get back on your feet. Dial (513) 728-4800 in Ohio or (859) 282-1572 in Kentucky to schedule an appointment at one of our six Cincinnati area locations.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.