UFAI is California’s Orthotic Experts: Helping More Than Just Feet

After manufacturing over 200,000 custom orthotics in the last 16 years, we’ve learned a think or two (to say the least)! In this article we are hoping our advice and the information that follows will help you choose the best type of orthotics for you.

What are Custom Orthotics?

Custom molded orthotics have been used for the last century to support many ailments of the foot, ankle, knee, hip, and lower back.

The purpose of orthotics are to hold the foot in a certain position while controlling the amount of motion the joints go through during the gait cycle also known as the walking cycle.

Orthotics help many problems from very simple deformities to more complex abnormalities and major complications from conditions such as diabetes.

They are commonly used for many problems including high arched feet, knee, hip, and even back pain.  Furthermore, different regions of the foot are loaded or offloaded to increase or decrease pressure on specific regions of the foot which may take too much weight or not enough weight.

Many different foot problems and pathologies are worsened by poor foot position or alignment but often improve dramatically improved with use of custom molded orthotics.

Common Problems Treated with Custom Orthotics include:

  • Pes Planus (painful flat foot)
  • Pes Cavus (painful high arch)
  • Chronic joint pain about the foot and ankle
  • Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain)
  • Arthritis of the foot or ankle
  • Hammer Toes (buckled toes)
  • Neuroma (nerve pain in the forefoot)
  • Bunion Deformity
  • Sesamoiditis (pain in the sole of the big toe)
  • Forefoot Varus or Valgus (deformities of the forefoot)
  • Heel Varus or Valgus (malposition of the heel)
  • Pronation (increased flattening motion of the foot)
  • Supination (lack of motion in the foot)
  • Ankle Instability
  • Knee instability
  • Knee tendonitis
  • Lower back pain

How are Custom Orthotics made?

The making of orthotics is as much art as technology. It is essential to perform a complete foot and ankle exam and check foot position prior to manufacturing of orthotics. The University Foot and Ankle Institute will perform a gait analysis and examination of the foot and to determine the proper type of orthotic based on your foot type, pathology, activity level and shoe type.

There are several ways to take foot impressions to make a custom molded orthotic.  Some physicians have the patient stand on a scanning device to that will scan the bottom of the foot.  Some physicians will have the patient place their foot into a foam box in order to get the impression of the bottom of the foot.  Although these techniques are easy and cost less, they are less significatnly less accurate and efficient.

The most reliable and accurate method of capturing the patient’s foot impression is by taking a plaster mold of the foot, This is performed in a off-weight situation, holding the foot in the desired functional position while the plaster hardens. The physician is then able to place the foot in the exact position needed for the particular diagnosis.  The plaster cast then has captured the position of the foot exactly. This mold is then sent to a leading manufacturer with the specific instructions and prescription for the desired correction of the patient’s foot.

When the orthotics are ready the patient will return to the office for orthotics fitting in their shoes. Another gait analysis is done to assure the orthotics are performing the desired effect. There will be an initial break in period during the first week of use. After this period of getting used to the orthotics, full use of the device is advised in all shoes in which the device fits. The patient will keep the molds of the orthotics in case additional pairs are needed. The molds are simply sent to the manufacturer with a new prescription without the need for new impressions.

Every situation and every foot requires a different amount of control and positioning. At the same time, every foot has a unique arch and foot type.

For these reasons, custom orthotics are significantly more appropriate than over the counter type arch supports. There’s several different types of shoe orthotics from those for athletic running shoes to those that are very thin used for dress shoes.

The California orthotics specialists at University Foot and Ankle Institute are proud affiliates of many health organizations. We’re a preferred foot and ankle provider of UCLA Medical Group.  Our doctors are board certified or board qualified by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Come to UFAI when you are looking for the best foot and ankle specialists in Southern California.

For more information or an appointment please call 877-989-9110 or request a consultation online.

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