It is easy to be confused by the difference between prescriptive versus non-prescription or over-the counter orthotics, given the number of choices available to consumers. If you are suffering from foot discomfort or pain, it is no small matter to decide.
Non-Prescriptive Orthotics: Widely Available
Today, with so many different kinds of over-the-counter orthotics available at your local drugstore, online or elsewhere, it is easy to be overwhelmed and uncertain about what to purchase. To list just a couple of examples of what you can purchase locally: at least one national pharmacy chain offers an in-store pressure measuring machine, which produces custom arch devices for shoes. Various footwear stores offer to provide custom-designed orthotics for their shoes or boots.
Online, your choices may be even broader. Online sites can list numerous arch supports, wraps and braces, which claim to relieve foot pain. Foot molds, which make foot impressions, are also available for purchase online.
If you are suffering from foot discomfort or pain, there is good reason to experiment with over-the-counter orthotics. They are cheaper than prescription orthotics and easily accessible. They will likely be effective with persons of average height, weight, foot type, and minor symptoms.
The best varieties to try are modeled after prescription orthotics. However, they will likely need to be replaced every few months at least.
Prescriptive Orthotics: When They Add Value
Despite the good that they can do you, over-the-counter orthotics cannot do the work of prescription orthotics, because the over-the-counter varieties are not specifically designed and fitted to your foot pathology.
In evaluating the difference between them, just think about the difference between reading and prescription glasses. The former is a general fix, while the latter is custom-designed to your specific condition—which in foot terms, may be high or low arches, overweight, and bone or tendon issues.
Since podiatrists specialize in lower extremity biomechanics and orthopedic foot function, they will prescribe orthotics only after a thorough patient evaluation, using physical examinations and tests, case history, and possibly X-rays. Based on a patient’s particular issues and needs, a podiatrist will decide if orthotics can be helpful or if some other treatment is warranted.
Prescriptive orthotics will be designed to the particular condition and contours of a patient’s foot or feet, based on the information generated by clinical and biomechanical examinations. Usually, they are designed and produced by an outside lab. They are intended to make the foot function more effectively as a “machine” by relieving abnormal pressure and stress on your feet, as well as other areas of the body too.
Before you waste too much time and money on ineffective or worse, the wrong orthotic products, visit your Lansdale foot orthotics expert, who can help you decide what solution will work best for your foot condition.
Foot and Ankle Specialist of the Mid-Atlantic