Orthotics are orthopaedic devices which are often made of lightweight materials that range in complexity from simple shoe inserts to custom-made devices that require impressions, casting, and computer technology to create.

Mass-produced, one-size-fits-all orthotics often cost less, but does not always properly correct the problem in the patient’s foot, and they sometimes do more harm than good. The purpose of all orthotics is to permit the healing of various foot conditions such as Achilles tendonitis, bunions, plantar fasciitis, and tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Orthotics help restore a patients ability to walk, run, and jump by reducing pain and swelling, and they also increase the stability of unstable joints.

They are not just used on the foot. They also help ease problems elsewhere in the body, such as the back and hips.

Types of Orthotics

Orthotics come in many different forms to suit various problems; orthotic insoles that can be used inside of footwear are the most widely used orthotic devices. These can come in custom made or “off the shelf” format and are made to suit problems such as flat feet, high arches, bunions and other foot deformities. Insoles also help to realign the foot which can relieve knee and back pain as well as easing pressure and improving posture and gait. They come in different types depending on the problem:

  • Rigid – Rigid orthotic devices are usually custom designed and are typically made from plastic or carbon fibre. Devices made of these materials are usually used to control motion of the joints within the foot.
  • Semi rigid – Semi-rigid orthotic devices are a combination of soft, compressible materials that are reinforced by more rigid materials. They are created to suit athletes and patients taking part in physical activities. Other types of materials used to create orthotics include metal, leather, plastics and rubber.
  • Soft – Soft orthotic devices are usually made from soft, compressible materials such as silicone or foam. These devices are used to ease pressure. They are useful for arthritis suffers and people with a foot deformity that causes a loss of protective fatty tissues found on the bottom of a patients foot.
  • Proprioceptive – for suffers of Morton’s Foot Syndrome. Proprioceptive orthotics are used for suffers of Morton’s Foot Syndrome. The use of orthotics has three areas of improvement. There is evidence of decreased fatigue; improved symmetry has been noted in the ability to balance on one leg when using proprioceptive orthotics. When patients have been tested in the posture most parallel to the classic golf stance, the stabilisation index was much improved when using orthotics.

What are Orthotics?

Orthoses can be made for children and adults suffering from a range of problems. These can be foot, spine and limb problems due to accident and injury or conditions present since birth or developed. They can also be designed to help the following conditions:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Flat feet
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Ankle injuries
  • Knee pain
  • Hip pain
  • Bunions
  • Clubfoot

Numerous different orthotics are available to help in support, control, rehabilitation and to relieve pain and pressure.

  • Insoles
  • Shoes
  • Knee braces
  • Splints
  • Ankle boots
  • Spinal supports

All of these are classed as orthotics and can be custom made to suit patients.

Who will benefit from an orthotic?

This is one of the most frequently asked question about orthotics. Many people can benefit from the use of an orthotic, from minor problems to major ones. Athletes and people who are constantly active can benefit from insoles to combat the effects of over pronation by easing pressure and pain. More serious conditions such as Cerebral Palsy and Spina Bifida can also benefit with orthotics that can control and aid in movement and provide support.

What is an AFO?

An AFO, stands for Ankle Foot Orthosis, is a device that supports the ankle and foot area of the body, extending from below the knee down to and including the foot. This device is used to control instabilities in the lower limb by maintaining proper alignment and controlling motion.

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