Can Custom Orthotics Relieve My Heel Pain?

Apr 23, 2023

If you’ve ever experienced the nagging discomfort of heel pain, you know how frustrating and limiting it can be. Every step can feel like walking on hot coals, making even the simplest tasks a challenging ordeal. If you’re tired of that relentless heel pain crashing your daily routine, you’re probably exploring the best treatment options.

Custom orthotics are one of the most effective treatments for heel pain. Our podiatrists at Advanced Ankle & Foot will take precise measurements of your feet and create individualized orthotics to help relieve heel pain.

Below, we dive into the details of this treatment to help you understand what custom orthotics are and how they can alleviate your heel pain.

What are Custom Orthotics?

Custom orthotics are shoe inserts that provide extra support to the bottoms of your feet. These shoe inserts are created with a unique mold or impression of your foot and crafted specifically for you. Since custom orthotics are made to fit your foot, they are more supportive and comfortable to reduce stress on certain foot areas.

How Can Custom Orthotics Treat Heel Pain?

Custom orthotics can treat your heel pain by reducing pressure points around and on your heels while supporting the rest of your feet. They are designed to provide extra cushioning and shock absorption, reducing stress on the heel and arch of your foot.

This extra cushioning and arch support reduces pressure on the affected area, relieving heel pain. The orthotics will retrain the muscles in your lower leg and the entire foot to provide the necessary support without creating painful pressure points. 

If you work on your feet for long periods and suffer from foot or heel pain, custom orthotics may bring actual relief. Your podiatrist will look at your complete health history, height, weight, activity level, and any medical conditions you may have. After your podiatrist has done a thorough evaluation of your feet, ankles, and legs, your orthotics prescription and a custom mold of your feet will be created. Your prescription will also determine how soft or rigid your orthotics should be for the best outcome.

Your Advanced Ankle & Foot podiatrist may also observe your walk to see how your feet, ankles, legs, and hips move. This process takes into consideration your foot structure and overall health to ensure the best outcome when determining your treatment plan of action.

Custom orthotics help treat many different types of foot and heel pain

Can I Just Use Over-the-Counter Custom Orthotics?

The answer is no. Custom orthotics differ from non-prescription shoe inserts you can find at any store. Over-the-counter orthotics are mass-produced and don’t provide the same support as custom orthotics. These generic orthotics will only provide temporary relief from heel pain, but they won’t correct the root cause of the pain because they are not customized to your foot or designed to fix actual foot issues such as plantar fasciitis.

They may even worsen your heel pain, as they can cause more pressure points in certain areas of your foot due to their prefabricated shape. On the other hand, custom orthotics are specifically designed to conform to the shape of your feet, providing the necessary support and cushioning. Unlike over-the-counter shoe inserts, orthotics are prescription medical devices you insert inside your shoes to address foot pain caused by medical conditions such as diabetes, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, and arthritis. 

While considerably pricier than regular shoe inserts, custom orthotics work to resolve the underlying medical issue causing the pain and last for several years with proper care. The cost of custom orthotics may be a concern, but fortunately, insurance often helps pay for or completely covers prescription orthotics.

Shoe inserts can certainly be useful for minor foot problems, including arch support for the foot’s natural arch, heel liners to provide extra cushioning, and insoles (typically made of gel, foam, or plastic) for overall cushioning and support, and foot cushions to protect feet from shoe friction.

Custom orthotics can help you safely get back on your feet without experiencing debilitating pain. How so? They impact more than just your actual feet – when your feet are properly stabilized, it provides the right foundation and helps other parts of your body. You may find your posture improves, you stop favoring one side, and it’s easier to move your body. 

Orthotics help evenly distribute your weight, which helps if you’re experiencing plantar fasciitis or joint discomfort in your ankles, for instance. Our patients who spend a lot of time on their feet, such as food service workers, educators, police officers, or retail workers, find great relief from orthotics due to this even weight distribution. They’re able to more comfortably spend extended periods on their feet now thanks to custom orthotics, which help alleviate aches and pains in your feet as well as other parts of the body. They’re also able to move faster and more freely thanks to the added foot support. 

Another added benefit of custom orthotics is helping to prevent future injuries. Orthotics provide support for specific parts of your feet and help shield them from injuries like heel spurs, twisted ankles, and back strain.

If I Start With Custom Orthotics Will I Have to Keep Them Permanently?

No, you won’t necessarily have to keep your custom orthotics permanently. Depending on the severity of your heel pain, our podiatrists might recommend a specific timeline for wearing them. 

How Often Should I Replace Custom Orthotics?

Typically, custom orthotics last between two and five years, depending on how often you wear them and the type of orthotics. However, you should have an annual orthotics evaluation so our doctors can check for wear and tear.

Types of Custom Orthotics

There are two main types of custom orthotics: soft orthotics, also known as accommodative orthotics, and rigid orthotics, also known as functional orthotics. Soft orthotics are bulkier to provide enough cushion to relieve pain caused by diabetic foot ulcers, plantar fasciitis, and other conditions. Due to their bulkiness, you may have to wear these with special orthopedic footwear. 

Rigid orthotics are made of carbon fiber or plastic. You can wear them with walking shoes, low-heeled dress shoes, or closed-toe shoes. Since they’re designed to alleviate foot aches and strains, you can rest assured that they’ll treat your heel pain as they are typically designed to help with foot aches and strains, shin splints, tendinitis, leg, thigh, and lower back pain. 

Get Your Pair of Custom Orthotics!

At first, you may feel intimidated to visit a podiatrist to discuss your heel pain or hope it will go away on its own, but chances are that it will not. Don’t let heel pain keep you from living life to the fullest. Our physicians at Advanced Ankle & Foot are here to help you find the right custom orthotics and treatment plan for your heel pain. They will listen to your specific concerns, examine your feet, and assess your overall health to determine the best solution.

While it’s common to brush off foot pain as inevitable or not worth a visit to the doctor, we encourage you to make your foot health a priority. Often, a few simple changes can significantly improve your quality of life. No longer suffer in silence or resign yourself to constant discomfort by taking the next step. Our trustworthy podiatrists and foot care team are just a phone call away at 480-962-4281 or by contacting us online to request an appointment directly. Contact us today and start taking steps toward a happier, healthier life.