What Are Orthoses?
Orthoses are prescription medical devices worn in your shoes designed to alter the biomechanical forces that are transferring from the ground through the feet & lower extremity, in order to treat and/or prevent a wide range of musculoskeletal complaints.
Your body functions as one whole unit, which means that the alignment, movement and forces acting through one area of the body will directly influence the alignment, movements and forces occurring in other areas of your body.
As orthoses are able to directly influence the biomechanical forces acting through the feet, ankles, knees, hips and lower back this makes them an incredibly useful tool for treating & preventing musculoskeletal complaints and improving sports performance.
What Do Orthoses Do?
Foot orthoses are prescribed in order to achieve one or more of the following;
- Alter biomechanical forces transferring through the feet.
- To treat musculoskeletal complaints.
- To improve performance and/or prevent injuries.
- Correct or accommodate deformities.
- Protect and/or support an injury.
Who Wears Orthoses?
Orthoses may be worn by patients of all ages and all activity levels.
Orthoses may be required for short-term use, or in other instances they may be required for longer-term or indefinite use.
The type of orthotic device and duration of use will vary greatly depending on individual patient needs & their biomechanical requirements.
Types Of Orthoses
The design, function and material selection of orthoses will vary between patients due to the multitude of factors taken in to consideration by your Podiatrist when prescribing an orthotic device.
These factors include;
- The condition being treated/prevented
(eg: chronic heel pain, Achilles tendinosis, improved sports performance etc…)
- Patient biomechanics, age, height, weight.
- Activities orthoses are required for
(eg: walking, cycling, every day use etc…)
- Duration of use
(ie: short-term or long-term use)
Depending upon your individual requirements your Podiatrist will recommend one of the following options as part of your treatment plan based on the results of your Biomechanical Assessment;
- Custom Foot Orthoses.
- Pre-Fabricated / Off-The-Shelf Orthoses.
- No orthotic therapy required.
Custom Foot Orthoses
Custom foot orthoses are prescription devices made based upon digital scans or plaster casts taken of the feet. Your prescription will be devised after your Podiatrists performs a thorough Biomechanical Assessment.
Custom orthoses can be made from a range of materials including polypropeline, EVA and carbon fibre. Material selection and orthotic design will vary between patients depending upon the required use & functional requirements of the device.
Functional Foot Orthoses
Functional orthoses are the most common type of orthoses prescribed and are the best treatment option when we are wanting to alter biomechanical forces acting throughout the musculoskeletal system.
Some conditions that functional foot orthoses can effectively treat;
- Plantar Fasciitis.
- Bunion Pain.
- Foot & Ankle Arthritis.
- Chronic Ankle Instability.
- Achilles Tendinopathy.
- Tibialis Posterior Tendon Dysfunction.
- Patellofemoral Syndrome.
- Sacroiliac Joint Pain.
Sports-Specific Functional Foot Orthoses
The physical demands of different sports place increased stress on the musculoskeletal system. The repetitive movements, footwear, equipment and playing surfaces can all play a role in the development of acute & chronic muscuoloskeletal injuries. Custom foot orthoses are an effective tool that assist the body in meeting the physical demands of your chosen sport.
Accommodative Foot Orthoses
Accommodative orthoses are primarily prescribed to redistribute pressure from painful or injured areas under the foot.
They are typically manufactured from softer materials and offer effective treatment solutions for;
- Painful corns/callouses that develop on the bottom of the foot.
- Diabetic foot ulcerations
- Pressure areas resulting from bony or soft tissue deformities under the foot.
Combination Orthotic Devices
In some instances a patient may have complex biomechanical needs requiring altering their biomechanics in addition to offloading pressure areas and/or deformities under the foot.
This will require a script expertly designed that will alter the biomechanical forces acting throughout the foot & lower extremity, whilst also redistributing pressures underneath the foot. These orthotic devices will often have a combination of components of both functional and accommodative orthoses.
Pre-Fabricated Orthoses / Off-The-Shelf Orthoses
Pre-fabricated orthoses are pre-made devices that will have a set level of correction in the device. They are a great option for those patients who have non-complex biomechanical requirements and/or only require small levels of alterations to their biomechanics.
Our experienced Podiatrists are able to modify and customise almost all types of pre-fabricated devices.
The Orthotic Process
The reason we have such a high orthotic treatment success rate that far surpasses industry standards is we take the time to make sure your script delivers exactly what you need.
The first step to achieve the best outcome from orthotic therapy is thorough a Biomechanical Assessment.
To find out more about our Biomechanical Assessments and what sets us apart from other Podiatrists click here.
During you consultation our Podiatrists will expertly assess your biomechanics, musculoskeletal system and gait. At the conclusion of your assessment we will discuss our findings with you and outline our proposed treatment plan that is tailored to your specific biomechanical needs. It is at this time we will discuss with you if orthotic therapy will likely be required in your treatment plan.
Often we will apply some form of strapping and/or padding to your feet, or alter your current orthoses in order to assess how your body will respond to our proposed orthotic therapy.
We may refer you for xrays or ultrasound imaging if we need more information regarding the health and alignment of your joints.
This is a vital step that many health practitioners skip, and we find that skipping this step only leads to poor treatment results and low patient satisfaction down the track.
The reason we work to obtain as much information as possible prior to prescribing Custom Foot Orthoses is simple.
As soon as you alter the biomechanics of the body you will alter the loading of your musculoskeletal system.
If this sudden increase in load is more than the tissue can tolerate you will likely experience pain and discomfort.
Gaining a thorough understanding of how your body will likely respond to custom orthotic therapy will allow our Podiatrists to devise a treatment plan specific to your individual needs. This may include the addition of exercise therapies, dry needling therapy, manual therapies and/or electrotherapies
We will review you a short while after your initial Biomechanical Assessment. During the review we will discuss with you how your body responded to the strapping/padding etc… And review any diagnostic imaging you obtained.
It is at this time we will advise on the specific type of orthotic device that will best achieve your treatment goals.
Should you require custom foot orthoses we will take digital scans of your feet in order to have your orthoses manufactured at one of our orthotic laboratories.
If pre-fabricated orthoses are required you may receive these during this consultation if no modifications/customisations are required.
We use digital scanning technology to capture 3D models of your feet.
These scans are sent with your orthotic prescription to an orthotic laboratory where expert Podiatrists & Orthotic Technicians create your orthotic device.
Your custom foot orthoses will arrive back within 5-10 business days from the time of scanning.
We will perform a number of tests to ensure the orthotic devices are fitting correctly and delivering the support/correction required.
At the end of the consultation we will go over the wear-in process and discuss any other aspects of your treatment plan with you.
You will be due to have your orthoses reviewed between 2-6 weeks from the time of fitting. The time varies depending on your own individual treatment plan.
Should any problems arise with your orthoses during your wearing-in period you are encouraged to contact the clinic as soon as possible and our Podiatrists will promptly address any problems you may be experiencing.