Custom Orthotics vs. Shoe Inserts


AT NY Foot Health one of our primary concerns is helping patients eliminate foot pain. When your feet hurt it’s hard to walk, stand, work and do all the daily activities you need to do. One way that podiatrists help patients get relief from foot pain is through the use of custom-made orthotics. There are also non-prescription shoe inserts available in drug stores and online. How do you know what’s right for you?

Made Specifically for You

Custom orthotics are made to fit your unique foot and no one else’s. They are created from a physical or digital mold of your foot and match the contours of your feet precisely. Your orthotics are constructed to accommodate your own foot structure and pathology and can only be designed after a podiatrist has completely evaluated your feet. Custom orthotics fall into one of two categories:

Functional Orthotics—these are designed to control abnormal motion of the foot and to treat injuries such as shin splints or tendinitis.

Accommodative Orthotics—meant to provide additional cushioning and support, these orthotics are made of soft materials and prevent pressure from being applied to painful areas such as calluses and diabetic foot ulcers.

There are many conditions that can be helped by custom orthotics including plantar fasciitis, bursitis, foot, ankle and heel pain and diabetic complications.

Helping with Minor Ailments

Over-the-counter shoe inserts can make walking more comfortable. It’s important to realize, however, that they do not correct biomechanical problems and they are not custom made for your own feet. Some types of inserts you may find include heel liners, arch supports, insoles and foot cushions. These can be good if your feet are sore due to the natural loss of fat padding or you just need some protection from shoes that rub or padding for additional comfort.

Making the Right Choice

Start by visiting your podiatrist—if you don’t have one we can help you find a highly trained foot doctor in your area with our online directory. The foot doctor will examine your feet and determine what the source of your foot pain is. If you have diabetes or another chronic medical foot condition you won’t want to take any chances with non-prescription products.

If the podiatrist says mass produced shoe inserts are okay for your complaint, be sure to bring the shoes you plan to use them in with you to the store. If possible, try on the insert before purchasing. If this is not allowed, find out the return policy before purchasing.

Keeping feet healthy is our goal. Learn more about foot conditions by contacting us and subscribe to our free e-newsletter.