Arch Supports, Orthotics & Bracing
A strong building requires a solid foundation. If some part of the foundation is sagging, weak, or unstable, the rest of the building will be compromised. You must bolster the foundation to fix the building.
Your feet are your body’s foundation, and the same concept applies. When your feet are weak or have biomechanical problems, you risk pain and injury throughout your body—not just the feet and ankles!
That’s where arch supports, custom orthotics, and bracing (ankle-foot orthoses, or AFOs) come in. These devices are designed to fit your foot shape and biomechanical needs, adjusting how your feet stand and strike the ground.
What Are the Benefits of Wearing Orthotics?
The right pair of inserts can support your arch, cushion your steps, distribute weight more evenly across your foot, and even realign and reposition your feet, ankles, and skeletal structure.
As a result, they can be an extremely effective nonsurgical treatment option for a wide variety of conditions that are tied to poor foot structure or alignment, including heel pain, flat feet, knee pain, arthritis, and more.
What does that translate to? How about:
- More productivity at work
- More time spent enjoying physical activities without foot pain or fatigue
- Reduced risk of future injuries
- Less time and money spent visiting the doctor, physical therapist, etc.
Simply put, orthotics can make your life better—and they won’t cost you an arm or a leg, or require any downtime like a surgery would.
But it’s not enough to simply buy a pair of foot pads at the grocery store. Just like how glasses and contacts are useless without the correct prescription, your feet need the right orthotics to feel their best.
What Type of Orthotics Do I Need?
Although orthotic devices come in countless different sizes, shapes, and materials, it’s helpful to think of them as belonging to one of three broad categories:
- “Grocery store” inserts. In other words, these are the prefabricated inserts you can buy off the rack at your local grocery store or pharmacy. They are the flimsiest, lowest quality supports you can get—a glorified pad, essentially—and as a result, they may not help much.
- “Custom-picked” arch supports. A huge step up from the grocery store, for about the same price. At our office, we carry high-quality prefabricated arch supports with firm plastic arches and padding to provide good support and comfort—and of course, we’ll be able to pick out the pair that fits your feet and condition the best.
- Custom-made orthotics. The highest-quality option. Custom orthotics are individually made to fit your feet exactly, using a mold and/or scan. They can be customized in different ways to meet different needs. Because of this, they have the greatest potential to treat the widest range of serious foot and ankle problems.
In general, we find that most patients do quite well with a custom-picked prefabricated arch support—the “middle tier” option. This is what we recommend most often and we have them in the office.
In addition to being highly effective in the majority of cases, these arch supports are also inexpensive, durable, and available immediately (since we dispense them directly from the office).
In some cases, however, any premade insert (even a high quality one) will not be sufficient, and custom-made orthotics will be necessary. We can still provide you with custom-picked arch supports up front, so you’ll have something to wear that will partially improve your symptoms while the custom orthotics are being made.
Premade and Custom Ankle Braces (AFOs)
If you need even more stability than arch supports or even custom orthotics can provide, you may instead benefit from an ankle brace (ankle-foot orthosis, or AFO). These might be recommended if you are recovering from an injury, or are struggling with chronic ankle instability, weak leg muscles, drop foot, or neurological disorders (to name a few examples).
In such cases, a full AFO might be a better option to fully stabilize the foot, protect the ankle, and make sure your whole foot clears the ground during your stride to prevent tripping and falling.
Many people do well with a premade ankle brace. We have a variety of them available at our office to suit many different needs, and they are usually insurance reimbursable.
If you need even more support, we can also “custom build” a brace based on molds of your feet, similar to the process with custom orthotics. Essentially, these will be like custom orthotics built into a full AFO brace to give you the ultimate package of comfort, support, and biomechanical correction.
Get Your Feet the Support They Need
Sometimes feet need a little extra support to function at their best. The right pair of arch supports, custom orthotics, or AFOs may be just what you need to stabilize faulty biomechanical issues and help feet better deal with excessive pressure and shock.
Let our specialists at Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma help you identify your biomechanical needs and get you the right pair, so you don’t have to live with foot pain. Contact our office in Oklahoma City today through our website or by calling (405) 418-2676.
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