Custom Orthotics for Flat Feet

Flat feet are fairly common. One study found that over 26% of the population suffers from this condition. Flat feet can occur as a congenital condition present from birth or may develop over time. Though flat feet aren’t uncommon, they can be unusually painful, particularly in adults who have gradually developed the condition. Fortunately, Dr. Schoene, Dr. Bever, and Dr. Joseph at Gurnee Podiatry & Sports Medicine Assoc. in  Gurnee area and in Chicago, Illinois, can offer orthotics, an easy and effective solution for flat feet.

What Are Orthotics?

Orthotics are prescription shoe inserts designed to address foot pain. When your foot makes contact with the ground, it experiences pressure known as ground reaction force. In bare feet or standard shoes, you may experience this force more heavily in certain places, making walking uncomfortable or even painful. Orthotics reduce the force that impacts your foot in targeted ways. Custom orthotics are designed with your individual needs in mind and can change the magnitude, location, and timing of the forces acting on your foot. 

Custom Orthotics vs. Over-the-Counter Insoles

Custom orthotics offer a more specialized treatment option than over-the-counter insoles. When you first consult with your doctor about orthotics, they’ll thoroughly examine your feet. This includes a physical exam of the feet and a careful inspection of how you walk. Your doctor will ask you to walk back and forth while they examine the way your legs, ankles, and feet move. The doctors will do a complete biomechanical exam, and will also measure your feet for custom orthotics.

In some cases, your doctor will look at additional tests, such as x-rays, to further examine the state of your feet. Our podiatrists will order weight bearing x-rays, which we do at our offices. Often patients have different alignment on each foot, so we order a complete set for both feet. These x-rays help us to properly assess the biomechanical alignment of your feet can also help diagnose issues that may arise from improper alignment.

If custom orthotics are going to be made,  your doctor will capture a three-dimensional  impression of your feet. This is traditionally done using a plaster cast. The final result is a pair of inserts that are custom shaped for a perfect fit and correct the alignment of each of your fee, as needed. This provides a completely personalized approach to your foot care.

In comparison, over-the-counter insoles are a very generic option for treating foot pain and discomfort. While an over-the-counter shoe insert is better than no insert at all in most cases, the options you’ll find on the shelf in your local pharmacy or big box store won’t offer an exact fit for your feet. You may have to trim the insert down yourself to get the right size.

While purchasing over-the-counter insoles is quick and affordable, it is best to purchase an over the counter insert at our office. This way the doctor at Gurnee Podiatry & Sports Medicine Assoc. can customize the over the counter insert to help fit to your feet better. We have lots of padding and things we can do to modify the over the counter insole. This is a great option if the custom devices are not covered by insurance or are not in the patients budget.  But, keep in mind that you may pay more in the long run for having taken a less expensive route. You may be purchasing numerous inserts as they may only last for a year or so; however, when we make a custom functional orthotic they often last upwards of 15-20 years, so in the long run, you may save lots of money! Either way, the doctors at our office will offer you many different options that suite your needs and fit your budget.

Benefits of Orthotics for Flat Feet

The typical foot has a natural arch that curves upward between the ball of the foot and the heel. However, flat feet lack this shaping and instead, make full contact with the floor. Some people are born with flat feet, while others develop the condition over time. Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, and obesity can increase the risk of developing flat feet. The foot can also suddenly go “flat” as a result of an injury.

Individuals with flat feet may experience foot pain, leg cramps, and swelling around the inside of the ankle. Having flat feet can increase the risk of developing bone spurs, arthritis, shin splints, bunions, corns, and calluses. Here are several ways that orthotics can help with the symptoms associated with poorly-aligned, flat feet:

Maintaining Alignment

Standing on flat feet for long periods of time can cause the foot to abduct or turn outward, where your feet point outward while your ankles roll inward. Poor alignment at your ankles will cause misalignment at your knees and hips, which can lead to pain from your feet to your back and anywhere in between. Orthotics can help realign your feet, thus improving alignment throughout your body and reducing undue strain along your legs, hips, and lower back.

Supporting the Foot

Flat feet have no arch support. This creates added stress and strain on the middle of your foot, where the arch should be. Custom orthotics are designed to give your foot the ideal arch support exactly where you need it. These orthotics can also provide support beneath the heel to reduce the pain that’s common to this area. This design alleviates excess pressure, redistributing it properly across your foot.

Improving Balance

Individuals with flat feet may have difficulty with balance. This can present hazards, particularly for older individuals who may have trouble getting around for a variety of reasons. Custom orthotics improve weight distribution across the foot and support proper balance, making it easier to stay on their feet.

Absorbing Shock

Your foot absorbs a certain amount of shock with every step. Orthotics provide cushioning, reshaping, and support at key areas along your foot to help minimize painful shock. These inserts provide essential support for walking, running, and athletics to keep your body healthy and reduce the risk of injury.

Signs You Might Need Custom Orthotics for Flat Feet

Custom orthotics can make a noticeable difference in your daily comfort and performance. You may need orthotics for flat feet if:

  • You suffer from persistent foot or ankle pain.
  • You have difficulty with balance.
  • Your toes point outward noticeably.
  • You struggle with hip or back pain.
  • Your athletic performance is compromised by flat feet.

Talk To a Doctor About Orthotics for Your Feet

If you’re interested in learning more about custom orthotics for flat feet, we can help. Contact Dr. Schoene,  Dr. Bever, and Dr. Joseph at Gurnee Podiatry & Sports Medicine Assoc. in Chicago, Illinois. We can develop a personalized treatment plan to help relieve the pain and discomfort that can come with flat feet.