Prosthetic & Orthotic Information Resource

Orthopedic Devices

Types of Orthotic Shoes

Who Should Use an Orthotic?

Almost anyone, from children to adults, can benefit from the use of an orthotic device.

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Orthopedics and Orthotics

What is an Orthoses?

Orthotics is used to describe both the field that is concerned with the design, development, fitting and manufacturing of orthoses. When appropriately prescribed, orthotics can decrease pain, not only in the foot, but in other parts of the body such as the knee, hip and lower back. These Orthopedic devices can also help to make an unstable joint more stable, prevent a deformed foot from developing additional problems, while improving the overall quality of a person's life.

Orthotics is also used to describe Orthopedic Devices which are used to alter or modify foot function as well as the devices that support or correct musculoskeletal deformities and/or abnormalities of the human body. Orthotics treat, adjust, and support various biomechanical foot disorders. They are often simple, commercially-made devices, such as cushioned heel cups or insoles for shoes that are sold over the counter in drug stores or other retail establishments.

Orthotics can assist with alleviating a variety of common foot problems which cause pain, discomfort or impaired walking ability in otherwise healthy people. An analogy has been suggested between the Orthotic and Optometric fields - devices from both arenas adjust problems that can impair physical functions. In both cases, physicians (e.g., eye doctor or foot care specialist) typically perform a complete examination and then prescribe a device to provide the proper amount of correction.
Orthotics are shoe inserts that are intended to correct an abnormal, or irregular, walking pattern. Orthotics are not truly or solely “arch supports,” although some people use those words to describe them, and they perhaps can best be understood with those words in mind. They perform functions that make standing, walking, and running more comfortable and efficient by altering slightly the angles at which the foot strikes a walking or running surface.

Benefits of Orthopedics

A general use of orthopedic devices is to relieve common symptoms that may indicate misalignment of the feet. These signs and symptoms include the following:
. Abnormal shoe wear (e.g., one side of the sole of the shoe wears out faster than the other)
. Bunions
. Chronic heel (e.g., plantar fasciitis), knee, or low back pain
. Flatfeet
. Frequent ankle sprains
. Gait abnormalities (e.g., feet point inward or excessively outward during walking)
. Shin pain (e.g., shin splints)

Definition of Orthopedic

The branch of medicine that deals with the prevention or correction of injuries or disorders of the skeletal system and associated muscles, joints, and ligaments.

Definition of Orthotic

A support, brace, or splint used to support, align, prevent, or correct the function of movable parts of the body. Shoe inserts are orthotics that are intended to correct an abnormal, or irregular walking pattern, by altering slightly the angles at which the foot strikes a walking or running surface. Other orthotics include neck braces, lumbosacral supports, knee braces, and wrist supports.

Orthotics for Children

Orthotic devices are effective in the treatment of children with foot deformities. Most podiatric physicians recommend that children with such deformities be placed in orthotics soon after they start walking, to stabilize the foot. The devices can be placed directly into a standard shoe or an athletic shoe.
Usually, the orthotics need to be replaced when the child’s foot has grown two sizes. Different types of orthotics may be needed as the child’s foot develops and changes shape.
The length of time a child needs orthotics varies considerably, depending on the seriousness of the deformity and how soon correction is addressed.

Other types of Orthotics

Various other orthotics may be used for multidirectional sports or edge-control sports by casting the foot within the ski boot, ice skate boot, or inline skate boot. Combinations of semiflexible material and soft material to accommodate painful areas are utilized for specific problems.
Research has shown that back problems frequently can be traced to a foot imbalance. It’s important for your podiatric physician to evaluate the lower extremity as a whole to provide for appropriate orthotic control for foot problems.

Orthopedics includes a wide variety of devices for all different parts of the body. Knee braces, ankle supports, arthritis gloves, pillows, lower back braces, neck supports.
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