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Comparison between Custom-Fitted and Off-the-Shelf Orthotics

A chiropractic doctor has to decide between two choices when a patient requires foot support. His first choice is whether off-the-shelf shoe inserts will be better or the patient should get custom-made orthotics. The doctor should consider all the facts before taking the decision.

Shoe inserts are often available at the doctor’s office or in athletic shoe stores or at drugstores. Custom-made orthotics are made by taking the measurements of the patient’s foot. A rational decision has to be taken by the doctor keeping the patient’s best interest in mind.

Off-the-Shelf Inserts

There are many devices that are placed at specific parts of the patient’s shoe to provide relief. Some of the most common devices are cork inserts or full-length viscoelastics or silicone or rubber heel cups. The design of these devices can also differ with some of them being totally flat while others having a medical arch build-up according to Orthotic Shop. You will also find several off-the-shelf inserts that provide support to the foot with the help of fluid-filled sacs or rubber “acu-stims” or even magnets.

Insert Pros

The ready-made shoe inserts are made according to the shoe size of the patient and most of them can be trimmed to fit the size of the shoe. That is why they fit pretty well and are quite inexpensive. Since the cost of materials is quite low and they are easily available, off-the-shelf shoe inserts are very popular. If you want to go into the details than you will have to consider the retail markup and materials used for construction. According to recent studies, there has been an improvement in the pronation control from arch supports or over-the-counter heels and a decrease in the plantar fasciitis symptoms. Also, their easy availability means you can replace them quickly if there is something wrong.

Insert Cons

Off-the-shelf shoe inserts may not be a good choice for people who do not have symmetrical feet or has a bigger or smaller feet size than the standard size. These shoe inserts are for patients who have varying foot conditions but their shoe size is the same and that is why specific corrections will be hard to incorporate. Even if you get to do a little bit customization, it may not reach the level of individual modification that is required. There are many patients who require inserts according to certain biomechanical imbalances or symptomatic conditions and these people will need specific heel wedges or maybe a metatarsal arch but these are not available from generic shoe inserts.

Custom-Fitted Orthotics

These are individual pair of shoe inserts that are made from a given image of the foot along with the corrections that are needed. The custom-fit is based on several factors like non weight-bearing, sometimes called “subtalar-neutral” image or semi weight-bearing or weight-bearing. This system does not follow the individualized foot size concept. The custom-fit orthotics are made in orthotic labs but can also be made in the doctor’s office according to the specifications. There are various materials that are used to make custom-fitted orthotics such as high-tech viscoelastic materials, rigid plastics, polypropylene, carbon fiber, and high-tech viscoelastic materials. You will be able to customize the orthotics so that they can fit in specific shoes like boots, ski boots, ice skates, sports shoes, high heels, flats, loafers, and dress shoes. High-end labs have the ability to create a combination of sandal-and-custom-orthotic or shoe-and-custom-orthotic too.

Custom-made Pros

One of the reasons why custom-made orthotics is so popular is that they offer specialized correction of biomechanical imperfections and personalized fittings. This helps to get proper support for musculoskeletal issues. Custom-fitted orthotics provide long-term relief to patients who have a poor spine and pelvis functioning. The biggest benefit is that the in-shoe fit and the materials can be selected according to how they will work with the patient’s shoes. Body mass and activity levels will also be taken into consideration. Starting from the lift to support for unusual and anomalous anatomy to asymmetrical posting to specific corrections, everything can be customized to perfection. This is important if asymmetry and abnormality are common. Heel spur corrections have now become quite popular to provide instant relief when they are used in a custom orthotic. You can get further customizations done if you are willing to pay more.

Custom-Fitted Cons

You should always consult a professional before getting a custom orthotic. After consulting with the expert, you have to get the accurate measurements taken along with the necessary corrections to an orthotic lab. This can take some time and makes the entire process quite expensive compared to off-the-shelf orthotic. Also, the quality has to be top-notch. The time and price are two drawbacks that this system has.