Custom Orthotics

Updated 2/16/2023
Cathleen talks about the difference orthotics have made in her life and her overall experience at UFAI.

What are Custom Orthotics?

Custom orthotics, as the name implies, are basically "shoe inserts" that are made individually for each patient and molded exactly to their foot.


Orthotics can improve many foot conditions that are made worse by poor foot position or alignment. 


Custom molded orthotics offer pain relief for a variety of common foot problems including plantar fasciitis, ankle instability, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, bunions, neuromas, arch support for low arches, high arches, back pain, knee pain, and arthritis, to name a few.

Who are custom orthotics for?

The purpose of orthotics is to hold the foot in a certain position while controlling the amount of motion the joints go through while standing, walking, and even running (motion control). They can dramatically decrease the amount of foot pain patients feel as well as potentially improve the condition itself.


We make orthotics for everyone, from small children to the elderly, from professional athletes to the weekend warrior, and everyone in between.

Many athletes use custom orthotics as a routine part of their sports medicine care and to improve their performance and endurance. Athletes demand so much from their feet and ankles and even the slightest imbalance in their feet makes them prone to injury. Custom orthotics can reduce the need for muscles to compensate for such imbalances, improving muscle function, and decreasing fatigue while improving foot support.


Orthotics are custom-made inserts that slip into your existing shoes. They do not require the use of special orthopedic shoes. They can be rigid or flexible, full-length or partial-length, and many different modifications can be added that are specific to your foot or ankle problem.


What conditions do orthotics generally help?

Orthotics are effective in the management of many specific foot conditions, including:


  • Arch or heel pain
  • Flat Feet
  • Bunions & Hammertoes (while they don’t correct these problems, they can help slow the progression)
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Shin Splints
  • Leg length inequality (which can happen after knee or hip surgery, or from scoliosis or other spine or hip issues)
  • Neuromas
  • Arthritis
  • Overuse injuries
  • Runner's knee pain
  • Heel spurs
  • Painful calluses
  • Low back pain
  • Hip pain 


Why custom orthotics are better than over-the-counter shoe inserts?

Over-the-counter shoe inserts are designed to fit the average foot, not the unique contours of your foot, and while they may provide some support they are not designed to treat your specific conditions.


Our podiatrists will carefully examine your feet as you walk and, if appropriate, run. Every situation and every foot requires a different amount of control and positioning and every foot has a unique arch and foot type. For these reasons, custom fit orthotics are significantly more effective than over-the-counter type shoe insoles.


Will my orthotics fit in all shoes?

There are several different types of orthotics, those for athletic shoes to very thin orthotics used for dress shoes (often purchase as a second pair). While foot orthotics work in most shoes, they will not work in flip-flops or any shoe where the heel is able to rise off of it while walking.


How are UFAI's custom orthotics made?

Custom Orthotics Los Angeles, University Foot and Ankle Institute

We take great pride and expend a lot of energy in making our custom orthotic devices nothing less than exceptional. Our foot and ankle specialists take a complete history of the presenting problem and a gait analysis is performed.


A podiatric gait analysis includes a thorough observation by the podiatrist of all phases of the patient’s walking (and, if appropriate, running) style. It can also include a discussion about all the patient’s activities and the footwear that is used in each of those activities. It is important that each orthotic device is correctly matched to the footwear with which it will be used.


To create a great orthotic we then take a careful impression of your foot in a neutral position with a plaster molding technique. The UFAI podiatrists have found this to be the most reliable and sensitive technique in orthotic manufacturing. The mold is then sent to our lab for fabrication with specific accommodations and support customized to each patient's needs.


The patient will return to the office to be fitted with the orthotics in their shoes. Another gait analysis will be performed to be certain the orthotics are performing the desired effect. There will be an initial break-in period during the first week but after “getting used to the orthotics,” we recommend using them in all shoes in which they will fit.


Patients keep the orthotic molds at home just in case additional orthotics are needed or wanted. Want to order another pair, no problem, just bring the molds, and we simply send them to our lab without us needing to take new impressions.


Custom foot and ankle braces

There are instances when more extensive bracing is required to accommodate a deformity or injury of the tendon, ankle, or foot bone. These custom-made braces properly position foot and ankle joints that can relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of further damage.  The added support a brace offers may also help reduce your chance of injury during sports activities.  The custom braces can be for temporary or for long-term use.


Custom charcot boots for diabetic foot conditions

The Custom Charcot Boot is essential in the treatment of a Charcot's foot, a condition that tends to afflict diabetic sufferers.  For patients with Charcot's foot, weakening bones create a high risk for breaks and fractures.  Foot deformities and ulcers may also develop, nerve damage exacerbates the problem as patients may not feel or be aware of any injuries.


The Charcot boot protects the foot and ankle and helps prevent breaks and ulcers.  When an injury is present, the custom-boot aids with healing by easing swelling and reducing pressure on the foot. The Charcot boot offers support to the ankle joint and distributes body weight equally throughout the foot and leg.


Tips for getting the most out of your orthotics

If you’re new to custom orthotics, here are some tips for how to wear them.


  • Only use your orthotics with the type of shoes they were created for. Often the orthotics you would wear for athletic or work shoes may be different than those you would use for formal shoes.
  • Remove any manufacturer arch supports or additions to your shoes before fitting them with the orthotic.
  • Always wear socks or stockings.
  • On Day 1, wear your orthotics for one hour. On Day 2, wear them for two hours, and increase that time by one hour each day until you can wear them all day.
  • It may take several weeks for your orthotics to feel comfortable. You may feel some odd pressure points or notice some slippage. If you feel that you need to force yourself to wear them, stop trying, and contact your doctor.
  • Squeaky shoes? Remove the orthotics and sprinkle them with talcum or baby powder, then re-insert them.
  • If the orthotics break or wear out, bring them to your doctor for repair or replacement. Don’t try to fix them yourself.
  • Avoid getting your orthotics wet, as their shape may warp. If they do get wet, just let them air dry. Don’t put them in or near any heat sources.
  • You can wash your orthotics with mild soap and water. Wipe them down with a paper towel and let them dry out completely before wearing them again.






Frequently Asked Questions about Orthotics


Q. Sometimes my orthotics squeak in my shoes - what can I do about this?

A. We recommend rubbing candle wax around the edges of the insert to stop and prevent squeaking.


Q.I've been wearing orthotics for years. I just had knee replacement surgery. Will my orthotics still work or do I need new ones?

A. Knee replacement can leave you with a leg length discrepancy, where one leg is shorter or longer than the other. It also usually corrects angular deformities in the knee, which can affect the foot/ankle position. Orthotics are sometimes fine after a knee replacement, but other times they do need to be changed.


It is best is to visit your foot and ankle specialist so they can check your leg length and foot position and decide if your orthotics need adjusting.



Have an orthotics question we should add to our FAQs? Please let us know by clicking here.









The best custom orthotics near you in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California

The foot specialists at University Foot and Ankle Institute specialize in custom orthotics, braces, and boots for the foot and ankle. Our physicians are premier orthotics specialists in California making over 10,000 pairs a year.


We provide expert knowledge in the most friendly, professional, and comfortable environment.


Request an appointment with a UFAI podiatrist at any of our Southern California offices today.

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