Over the counter orthotics vs prescription orthotics
If you have ever had heel pain, for most of us the first thing that comes into our mind is to go to the chemist and buy some orthotics (mainly based on TV adverts).
But have you stood back and thought what these orthotics are actually doing to your feet, knees, hip, spine, posture and walking? Are they over promising to cure
something which sounds too convincing? Do you really know what is causing the pain? Heel pain can actually be caused by over 20 different conditions, only a few of which would be helped by orthotics (not all heel pain is plantar fasciitis!) Similarly if you had blurry vision would you self diagnose the eye condition and buy a pair of glasses yourself?
These are called over-the-counter (OTC) orthotics, which is can be either full length or ¾ length and is matched by your shoe size and what foot symptom you have. For
example if you have arch pain you would buy this OTC orthotic in your size, and it would be generic for the population.
Over the counter orthotics will last for about 6 months, depending on use, because of the materials used. After this time, they will start to flatten out and offer less support so you may find that your symptoms reappear.
So if you have tried OTC orthotics and your symptoms are still present what should you do?
See an MSK Podiatrist (musculo-skeletal specialist) who will assess your foot structure while you walk and stand. They will assess your symptoms and advise on the best course of action.
Whilst an OTC orthotic may be suitable, a prescription pair will be far more beneficial as they will be specific for the position and structure of your foot. They will also be designed to suit the style of footwear you prefer to wear (where possible). They can also be combined with other methods of treatment such as FMT (Foot Mobilistion Techniques), footwear evaluation, or an exercise programme to strengthen weak muscles to ensure we achieve the best results possible.
The point is that a prescription orthotic can provide a greater level of realignment to your joints, prevent the other joints in the body becoming misaligned and subject to damage, and reduce symptoms. Above all, your prescription orthotics will last significantly longer than OTC because of the superior materials used.
If you have existing orthotics (either OTC or from a previous prescription) that you would like me to evaluate, why not book a Biomechanical Assessment? I will assess your gait and and alignment and advise whether:
- You no longer require the orthotics
- Your existing orthotics can be refurbished
- The effectiveness of your existing orthotics can be improved with an extra pad or lift
- You would benefit from a new pair of orthotics.
I look forward to helping you!