Can Custom Orthotics Help an All-Day Work Warrior?
Some people spend nearly the whole day on their feet—and boy, do they feel it!
You can be part of an assembly line, a server at a restaurant, or a teacher keeping tabs on students. If your job involves long periods of standing or bustling about, it can lead to awful heel pain at the end of the day.
Consistent heel pain day by day isn’t just a matter of discomfort, either. Such stress and pain can lead to fatigue as well. Not only is it interfering with your work, but it’s interfering with all you could be doing outside of work!
People who are on their feet all day have likely considered orthotics as a way to help reduce or eliminate their discomfort. It just makes sense to put something in your shoes that can provide some cushioning and support, right?
True, but orthotics in themselves are not always a cure-all for this situation. And when they can be, it often takes a specialized approach.
What Do Orthotics Actually Do?
Cushioning can be one job of orthotics—but so could stuffing cotton into your shoes. (Which, to be clear, we don’t recommend.)
Orthotics can do so much more, depending on how they are prescribed and structured. They can also serve as valuable tools in providing the right kinds of support where your feet and ankles may need it.
As we stand and walk, our feet are bearing and distributing the weight of our bodies. With a strong, standard structure to our feet and ankles, these forces are being properly and evenly spread out in a way that can be well handled.
If there is an abnormality in your foot structure, however—whether from flat feet, high arches, a toe deformity, or other conditions—the distribution of forces over your feet can be thrown off. This can create an excess of pressure in certain areas of the feet that were not meant to handle it, which can increase the chances of these places becoming strained and injured.
Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain in this regard, as the thick band that runs beneath the foot grows strained and develops tiny tears. If your feet hurt as soon as you put them down in the morning, or after you start moving from a long period of inactivity, plantar fasciitis is a likely suspect. However, other conditions such as Achilles tendinitis and neuromas can also result from an uneven distribution of forces.
Orthotics can help redistribute weight across the foot in a more normal and even way, causing less overall strain and reduced (or fully eliminated) pain.
The catch is that this rarely happens in a “one size fits all” manner.
Custom Orthotics Provide the Best Results
Our feet contain a large number of bones, muscles, ligaments, and other moving parts. When something goes askew, it will never go askew in exactly the same way as it will for someone else.
When it comes to something as intricate as our biomechanics and the way forces are distributed, it pays to be as exact as possible. A pair of store-bought orthotics may provide some amount of relief, but they will almost never provide the exact support and cushioning needed that a pair of custom-made orthotics will.
When a patient receives a pair of custom orthotics from us, they are literally prescribed to match the specific needs of their feet. The pair created for you is made only for you and built to last. They can also be adjusted and refurbished over time to match the changing needs of your feet. Try to get that from a package on a store shelf!
That said, in some cases a “custom-picked” set of orthotics (rather than full custom orthotics) may be more than adequate. The catch is that you want to have an actual foot and ankle expert to diagnose your problem first and then choose a durable, high quality product to match your needs. We dispense “top shelf” prefabricated orthotics at our office as an alternative to custom orthotics if we feel they will effective for your situation, or even to provide temporary, partial improvement in symptoms while you wait for your custom orthotics to be made.
What Else Can Be Done?
With as much as custom orthotics can be molded to do, however, they are not the best treatment for every cause of heel pain.
The best treatment plans come from a thorough evaluation of your condition, history, work demands, and other factors that can all shape the causes and effects of your problems. Custom orthotics may be our primary recommendation, but other options may be suggested alongside or instead of them. These might include:
- Rest and icing of injured areas.
- Anti-inflammatory medications.
- Changes in footwear to more supportive and cushioning options.
- Changes in work environment, such as placing softer pads down in areas where you must stand for long periods of time.
- Technologies such as shockwave therapy to encourage accelerated healing and pain relief.
We will be happy to discuss a full range of options with you, as well as answer any questions you may have about how your heel pain and its treatment may affect your ability to work.
Don’t Let the Runaround Get You Down
Work can be challenging enough in itself; don’t let persistent heel pain pile on more undue misery and complications.
The sooner a cause of heel pain is addressed, the faster and more effective results tend to occur. Leave a heel pain problem alone for too long, and it tends to become worse and even harder to treat. The worst thing you can do for heel pain is nothing at all!
Schedule an appointment with our Oklahoma City or Moore offices by calling us at (405) 418-2676. If you prefer electronic correspondence, you can always fill out our online contact form and a member of our staff will reach out to you.
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Oklahoma City Office:
609 W Memorial Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73114