Prescription footwear is often recommended by podiatrists for individuals with diabetes, as well as individuals suffering from a variety of foot or ankle conditions. Below is a guide to help you understand three different types of prescription footwear, including the most common- orthotics.
Healing Shoes: When a person undergoes surgery or ulcer treatment, it could be necessary to wear special healing shoes before a regular shoe can be worn. These healing shoes can come in the form of custom sandals, closed-toe heat-moldable shoes, and post-operative shoes.
In-depth Shoes: In-depth shoes are the first step for most footwear prescriptions. These shoes are light in weight with shock-absorbing soles, and they come in a range of sizes to accommodate any foot. Most in-depth shoes contain ¼ inch to ½ inch of depth throughout the shoe. With this extra volume, orthotics are able to comfortably fit. *Editor’s Note: Many custom orthotics these days can be created so that they are thin enough to fit in your existing shoes, eliminating the need for in-depth shoes!
Orthotics: Orthotics, or shoe inserts, are removable insoles that provide pressure relief and shock absorption. There are options for both pre-made and custom-made orthotics. Since orthotics are the most common type of prescription footwear, we explain them in greater depth below.
There are two types of orthotics- accommodative and corrective. Accommodative orthotics are often prescribed to individuals with diabetes or individuals who have developed sores or ulcers on their feet. They are molded to the patient’s foot, and they can have customized cutouts in order to accommodate a callous or bony prominence.
Corrective orthotics, in comparison, correct the foot’s abnormality as opposed to just accommodating it. These devices are for the more active patient with foot pain. Some examples of conditions that could call for corrective orthotics are plantar fasciitis, flat feet, Morton’s neuroma and tendonitis.
Truly custom orthotics require a three dimensional impression of the foot, which can be accomplished by plaster casting, digital scanning or the use of a foam box. Orthotics are only as good as the cast they are made from, so be sure to get an accurate cast from a doctor that you trust.
All kinds of orthotics can feel slightly uncomfortable at first, and they can even change the way you walk. For this reason, a six-week break in period is recommended to let your feet adjust. Wear your new orthotics for half an hour on the first day, then one hour on the second day, and so on.
So what are some signs that you might need your own pair of prescription footwear? The most common one is foot and heel pain- this should be obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people experience foot pain and don’t get it checked! Heel pain, while widespread, is not normal and should be examined by a doctor. Another common sign that you might need prescription footwear is if you recently suffered an injury to your lower limbs. In order to properly recover, it is essential to get a good pair of orthotics to ensure you are improving your health from the feet up!
Everything from serious foot disorders to common foot and ankle conditions can be exacerbated by one, avoidable cause: inappropriate, poor quality, or ill-fitting shoes. If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, or would just like to find out if orthotics are a good option for your feet, book an appointment with your local podiatrist.