What are orthotics?
These are removable inserts that are placed inside your shoes which help to correct structural abnormalities that many people have in their feet. Structural abnormalities, such as flat feet or high arches, can result in abnormal pressure distribution and eventually pain.
What common pathologies are orthotics helpful for?
The most common reason I prescribe orthotics is heel pain but there are many reasons to have orthotics, including back and knee pain. Take a look at the next county fair you go to, what are people mostly wearing? Flip flops, canvas shoes, maybe even flat dress shoes I bet. When you need to walk short distances, these shoes are fine. But if you're spending the day walking and standing on your feet for longer than you're used to, you really need supportive arches, whether it be a high quality shoe or custom orthotics, to prevent sprains and strains.
Do insurances pay for orthotics?
Many insurances pay for custom orthotics performed by a foot and ankle specialist. When they don't, I would still recommend over the counter orthotics, something that does not fold in half and fits your arch well and maintains it. High quality ones are sold exclusively in a podiatrist's office.
Do I need orthotics?
Many people I see have demanding jobs that require them to stand on their feet for over 6 hours at a time with minimal rest. This can put a lot of strain on your feet. I have prescribed orthotics to people who have recurrent or constant pain and many do well with it. There is a small fraction of people who either don't like it or can't tolerate it at all, but since there are so many ways to create it, I often suggest having them evaluated by a foot and ankle specialist. Sometimes a small modification can help.