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Orthotics: Fact and Fiction

Perhaps you’ve heard the term. Maybe you’ve wondered if they would help you or someone told you that you needed a pair.  What about those fancy computer machines you see at the trade fairs to check people’s feet? Do they work? What are the facts?

Orthotics are shoe inserts designed to correct foot function.  When the foot operates properly foot pain can disappear, stress on other joints is reduced and posture is improved.  As a result orthotics are often used to treat many problems in the feet (ex. plantar fasciitis) knees, hips and even the low back.

There are many ways to fit a person for orthotics.  Some companies use fancy computers to assess people’s feet.  Others use foam or plaster casts.  Every insurance company must accept the computer assessment, right?  After all, it’s the most advanced and scientific, right?  Wrong!  Many insurance companies will deny your claim if the only technique used is a computerized mat you walk across.  The reason is insurance companies want to ensure a true 3D replica of your foot is created in the lab to use as a mold for a truly custom orthotic which can’t be done from the computerized image but can be done from a foam or plaster cast.  So then why use the computer at all?  The computer assessment can quickly do calculations and show the practitioner subtle things in the way the feet are operating that aren’t readily apparent to the naked eye in a mold. This allows the doctor to prescribe subtle changes to your order to get you the best orthotic possible.  For the record, our office uses all three techniques.

What about cost?  It seems everywhere you call has a different price.  Unfortunately there is no industry standard for the cost of an orthotic but typically they range from $400-650 per pair.  Often benefits will cover a portion of the cost provided you have a prescription from your family doctor but it is best to check with your benefits before ordering a pair. Our office always strives to stay on the low end of the cost curve for patients.

Does everyone need orthotics? No, but most of us have some foot problem that might cause problems down the road so it’s pretty accurate to say most people would benefit from them.

If you would like to have your feet checked to see if orthotics might help you call our office at 403.243.8118.

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