• Who needs orthotics?

    by Dr. H. Austin Hewlett
    on Dec 3rd, 2018

    We will start by first defining what an orthotic is or maybe first what it is not.  It is not something you can buy off the shelf.  So no the devices you see at various chain stores where you stand on a machine and it magically tells you what "device" you should buy is not an orthotic.  An orthotic is a custom made device fashioned for you as an individual.  I can't wear yours and you can't wear mine(most likely not for long and not without alot of pain)

     There are several methods by which to make an orthotic.  Some doctors will have you walk on a computer mat others may have you step into a foam box or block.  Personally I have always preferred the casting method.  This is where I actually make cast impressions of the individuals feet.  My personal opinion is that if you don't do it this way all you really have is a foam box impression or computer generated image of a foot that is not functioning correctly. After all thats why the patient is in my office. 

     Now onto the question of who needs orthotics.  My personal opinion is that orthotics are one of if not the most important things you can do to prevent and treat injuries of the foot and ankle.  They can be used in people with flat feet, high arch feet, people with ankle pain and people with various tendon and ligament issues as well.  In addition orthotics are completely non invasive and have minimal if any downside.  

     These custom made devices can be used by children as well adults.  Serious competitive athletes can benefit from properly made orthotics as can the weekend warrior and all patients in between.  Most of the time we are able to fabricate a devices that can fit in most of your shoes.  However any heel over 2 inches and open back sandals will not accomadate an orthotic.  So orthotics are indeed devices that have the potential to benefit a wide array of patients with many different foot types and sypmtoms. 

     Another question I frequently encounter is "how long do they last".  My reply is to look at your orthotics like car tires.  The more miles you travel and the rougher the roads the quicker you will go through them.  Lets take two extreme examples: a professional triathelete will literally destroy a pair of orthotics in under 6 months.  Someone who wakes up, goes to work, walks the dogs and performs routine activities of daily living will get up to 2 years from the device. In children we run into one problem.  Kids grow and orthotics do no not.  So most children will simply outgrow the devices in 12-14 months.  

     Hopefully that helps with any questions.  If you think you may benefit from orthotics please come by one of our offices and lets find out!

     Thank you for trusting us with your care. 

Author Dr. H. Austin Hewlett Dr. Hewlett is Board Certified in both Foot and Reconstructive Rear Foot Surgery by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. The highest certification in the field of Podiatry. He has been practicing at Cambridge Foot and Ankle Associates for 18 years and is also the longest sitting Podiatrist on the Orthopedic Executive Committee at Saint Josephs Hospital in Orange Ca. In addition Dr. Hewlett serves as the director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship at Specialty Surgical Center of Irvine. He has been surfing for over 40 years and absolutely loves raising his daughter. Dr. Hewlett is available for consultation in both the Orange and Newport Beach offices of Cambridge Foot and Ankle. He specializes in all treatment aspects of the foot and ankle ranging from skin infections to complicated reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle.

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