St. Augustine Woman's Journal - Educational Resource to the Women of St. Johns County Since 2009

By Richard Johnson DPM
Coastal Foot and Ankle Wellness Center 

Shoe Inserts and Prescription Custom Orthotics


April 1, 2017 | View PDF

What are shoe inserts?

Shoe inserts can be found in stores, on TV and online. They are a non-prescription foot device worn inside a shoe. Orthotics are a prescription shoe insert custom made specifically for YOUR feet. Shoe inserts can be very helpful for a variety of foot ailments. They can cushion your feet and provide comfort and support. The most common types of shoe inserts are:

Arch Supports: Arch supports are generally designed to gently support a high or low arch.

Insoles: Insoles provide extra cushioning and support. They're often made of gel, foam or plastic.

Heel Liners: Heel liners provide extra cushioning for your heel. They may be useful for patients who have pain caused by the atrophy of the heels' natural fat pads.

Foot Cushions: Foot cushions come in many different shapes and sizes and are used to prevent rubbing between you and your shoe.

Choosing an Over-the-Counter Shoe Insert

Selecting a shoe insert from the wide variety of devices on the market can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help find the insert that best meets your needs:

Consider your health..... Diabetes? Poor circulation? Both can increase your risk of foot ulcers and infections. Let your podiatrist help you select the correct insert. Think about the purpose... Running? Working? Lounging? Look for a product that fits your level of activity. Bring your sneakers, dress shoes or work boots with you. Look for an insert that fits the contours of your shoe. Try them inside your shoeand walk around a little. Be sure it is comfortable! Be sure it is returnable!

What Are Prescription Custom Orthotics?

Orthotics are custom-made devices designed to support and comfort YOUR feet. They match the contours of your feet precisely and are designed for the way you move. While they may cost more than the shoe inserts, they are frequently covered by insurance. Orthotics are made by your podiatrist after a complete biomechanical evaluation of your feet, so the orthotic can accommodate your unique foot structure and pathology. Clinical research studies have shown that podiatrist-prescribed foot orthotics decrease foot pain and improve function. Prescription orthotics are divided into two categories:

Functional Orthotics are designed to relieve foot pain by controlling abnormal motion. They can also be used to treat injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints or tendonitis. Functional orthotics are usually made from semi-rigid material. Accommodative Orthotics are soft and meant to provide additional cushioning and minor support. They're used to treat ulcers, painful calluses or other painful ailments.

When to Visit a Podiatrist

If you are simply looking for extra cushioning or support, you may wish to try an over-the-counter shoe insert first. But, if you have significant pain or disability, schedule an appointment with your podiatrist. Your podiatrist will assess your overall health and evaluate the biomechanics of your lower extremity. This evaluation will help determine if shoe inserts might be helpful or if you need prescription orthotics.

We have been treating your feet in St Augustine and Palatka for over 18 years. Make an appointment today with Richard Johnson, DPM or Jose Concha, DPM at (904)826-1900 in St Augustine or (386)328-1122 in Palatka. At Coastal Foot & Ankle Wellness Center, we are setting the highest standards for your foot and ankle care.


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