ORTHOTICS AND FOOTWEAR
The terms "foot orthotic" or "in shoe orthotic" are used to describe devices such as insoles or arch supports that change the function and the biomechanics of the foot and ankle. The term "orthotics" will be used in this section in place of the terms "foot orthotic" or “in shoe orthotic”.
Orthotics can improve the pain caused by osteoarthritis of the foot and/or ankle in a number of ways:
- Orthotics can change the distribution of force through the foot and/or ankle.
- Orthotics can act as cushions to reduce the force through the foot and/or ankle.
- Orthotics can change the alignment of the foot and/or ankle.
Orthotics can be made of different materials. The choice of the material used depends on what the orthotics are trying to do. Soft orthotics are often helpful if cushioning is required. Semi-rigid orthotics provide more stability than soft orthotics but still provide some degree of cushioning or “shock absorption” while rigid orthotics provide maximal support and stability.
Orthotics can be custom made or can be “over-the-counter”. Most orthotics are designed to fit easily into most casual or sports shoes. After an initial break-in period orthotics should feel comfortable. The body needs time to adjust to new orthotics. If orthotics are not comfortable after the initial break-in period they may need to be adjusted. Orthotics should not make feet, ankles or knees feel worse.
Orthotics can have some drawbacks. Orthotics may not fit in all types of shoes. Orthotics may take some getting used to and may feel uncomfortable when first worn. Occasionally, the material used make the orthotics can irritate the skin. Orthotics can also be expensive and they do not always improve the pain caused by osteoarthritis of the foot and/or ankle. Soft orthotics are made of softer materials and they tend to break down faster than semi-rigid or rigid orthotics.
In summary, orthotics can serve an important role in the treatment osteoarthritis of the foot and/or ankle. Healthcare professionals who are skilled in treating osteoarthritis of the foot and/or ankle can advise whether orthotics would be helpful and how to get the correct type. Healthcare professionals can also advise on the appropriate type of shoe to wear with an orthotic.
To read more about osteoarthritis visit the links section of OA Health Info. Links have been provided to other websites on osteoarthritis.
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