Custom Orthotics

Updated 3/21/2024
Cathleen talks about the difference orthotics have made in her life and her overall experience at UFAI.

What are custom orthotics?

Custom orthotics are 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. They also offer additional cushioning, relieving pressure points and improving foot comfort.


Custom-molded orthotics offer pain relief for a variety of common foot problems including plantar fasciitis, ankle instability, tendonitis, bunions, neuromas, and arthritis. They also provide additional arch support for high arches and flat feet and can help relieve knee and back pain caused by improper gait or posture.

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. They can dramatically decrease the amount of foot pain patients feel, as well as potentially improve the foot condition itself.


We make orthotics for everyone, from small children to the elderly, professional athletes to weekend warriors, and everyone in between. We understand that no two patients are the same, and so no two orthotics are identical.


Many athletes use custom orthotics as a routine part of their foot care and to improve their performance and endurance. Athletes demand so much from their feet and ankles; 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 easy to use. They slip into your existing shoes, don’t require special orthopedic shoes, and can be rigid or flexible, full-length or partial-length. We can also make many different modifications 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:



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 and biomechanics of your foot. While they may provide some support, they are not designed to treat your specific condition and (if they fit improperly) could exacerbate some of your foot and ankle problems.


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, from athletic shoe orthotics to very thin orthotics used for dress shoes (often purchased as a second pair). While foot orthotics work in most shoes, they will not work in flip-flops or any shoe where the heel can rise off the shoe 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 perform a gait analysis to assess how you walk.


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


To create a great orthotic insole we take a careful mold of your foot in a neutral position. Our 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.


Once the orthotics are created, you’ll return to the office to have the orthotics fitted to your shoes. We’ll also perform another gait analysis to be certain the orthotics are providing the desired effect. 


You’ll have 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.


You’ll keep your orthotic molds at home just in case you want or need additional orthotics. If you want to order another pair, no problem; just bring the molds, and we will send them to our lab without 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 the foot and ankle joints, which 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 deformity — a condition that can afflict diabetic patients. For patients with Charcot's foot, weakening bones create a high risk for breaks and fractures. Foot deformities and ulcers may also develop, and nerve damage exacerbates the problem as patients may not feel or be aware of 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 with your shoes.

  • On day one, wear your orthotics for one hour. On day two, wear them for two hours. Increase the wear 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 odd pressure points or notice some slippage. If you feel that you need to force yourself to wear them, stop and contact the office.

  • 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.


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

The foot specialists at University Foot & 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.


Using our experience in orthopedic surgery, podiatry, and sports medicine, we strive to use the least invasive methods possible to treat your pain and improve foot function. Our foot doctors offer expert knowledge in the most friendly, professional, and comfortable environment possible.


For a consultation, please call (877) 736-6001 or make an appointment online now.


University Foot and Ankle Institute is conveniently located throughout Southern California and the Los Angeles area. Our foot and ankle surgeons are available at locations in or near Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, the San Fernando Valley, El Segundo, the South Bay, LAX, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Valencia, Santa Clarita, and Santa Barbara.






Frequently Asked Questions about Orthotics


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

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


I just had knee replacement surgery. Will my orthotics still work or do I need new ones? 

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 will need to be changed.


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


How long do custom orthotics last? 

The lifespan of our custom orthotics can vary widely depending on several factors including how they're used, the wearer's foot structure, and the wearer’s activity level. However, as a general guideline, they can last three to five years or more. 

Repadding and recovering the orthotics can double their life at a fraction of the cost of new orthotics.


Are orthotics covered by insurance? 

Insurance coverage for custom orthotics can vary significantly based on the specific policy, the insurance provider, and the medical necessity as determined by a healthcare professional. We recommend contacting your insurance provider directly to ask about coverage for custom orthotics.



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