top of page

Are Custom Orthotics the Best Solution for Foot and Ankle Pain?

Flat feet and foot and ankle pain are the primary reasons clients come to us for custom orthotics. Many think they need them to have less pain or to have the rest of their body properly function. Although this can be true in some cases, most of the time, custom orthotics are optional and are just one component of their recommended plan.

Dr. Stacey Eck, physical therapist and foot expert, spends a great deal of time not only determining the root cause of her client's pain but also educating her clients on their body's needs. She has had multiple conversations about orthotics, shoe inserts, shoes, and the best treatment for your feet. She shares this knowledge in today's post with you, the reader.

What is the difference between inserts and custom orthotics?

Two types of products can be used in shoes to add external support to your foot, inserts and custom orthotics. Inserts (such as Powerstep Insoles or Dr. Scholls Inserts) can be purchased over the counter and are not customized for your foot. They have a wide range in cost and quality, and it can be very overwhelming when it comes down to deciding which is best for you.

Orthotics are custom, meaning that a trained provider takes specific measurements and an impression of your foot, then has a product built specifically for you. It is essential that these measurements are taken in standing and sitting and that shoewear is discussed to ensure a good fit. There is a wide range of costs and quality when it comes down to this.

What foot and ankle conditions are appropriate for orthotics?

Orthotics can play an important role in foot and ankle-related conditions, especially following surgery or injury. They can also be helpful for birth-related abnormalities, arthritis, or painful joints and conditions that have not responded to other physical therapy-related treatments. Yes, orthotics can make other body parts feel better, but typically there are better long-term solutions.

Despite these situations, very few people genuinely require long-term orthotics. Most often, orthotics are prescribed without an exit strategy or understanding of how/when to discontinue use. In addition, many people think they need a custom orthotic, but they have yet to try the correct type of over-the-counter insert to see if they succeed with that first.

Bottom Line

Orthotics are an external solution or tool that can be of benefit to managing a musculoskeletal (internal) problem. Orthotics and inserts work best if you are also actively working on trying to fix what is happening in your body. Once you have identified the root cause and are working on mobility and strength, the goal should always be to move away from needing orthotics and trusting your own feet to do what they are intended to do.


Close to Manitowoc, WI, and looking for even more expert information about your feet? Click HERE to register for our "Foot Freedom" workshop on Wednesday, November 9th, at 6:30 pm! Dr. Stacey Eck will discuss the underlying root cause of common foot syndromes and teach you what it takes to relieve your symptoms and restore your natural feet!


bottom of page