Every day people come to my office to find relief from foot problems such as hammertoes, bunions, pinched nerves, or plantar fasciitis (heel pain). I recommend a foot orthotic if muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, or bones are not in an optimal functional position and are causing pain, discomfort, and fatigue. Foot orthotics can be made from different materials, and may be rigid, semirigid, semi-flexible, or accommodative, depending on your diagnosis and specific needs.
For custom prescription orthotics, a health professional performs a thorough health history, including an assessment of your height, weight, level of activity, and any medical conditions. A diagnosis and determination of the best materials and level of rigidity/flexibility of the orthotics is made, followed by an impression mold of your feet. This mold is then used to create an orthotic specifically for you. The difference between OTC/kiosk and custom orthotics may be likened to the difference between over-the-counter and prescription reading glasses. In my experience, certain groups of people benefit from an examination performed by a health care professional, and a prescription for custom orthotics. These include people with diabetes who have loss of feeling in their feet, people with poor circulation, and people with severe foot deformities caused by arthritis. In fact, Medicare has a program that covers 80% of the cost of diabetic shoes and orthotics, because studies have shown that they decrease the chance of developing an open sore that can lead to amputation.