Over the counter orthotics have been increasing in popularity lately, however, we should be careful to not use these as a replacement for custom orthotics. Here are some of the differences between the two types of orthotics:
- Picking an over the counter orthotic may do more harm than good. Determining the cause of pain can be complicated and usually requires a professional to determine the underlying issue. Using an over the counter orthotic for comfort may change your gait and cause more problems instead of curing the ones that they are purchased for.
- Price. Over the counter orthotics usually range from $30-$50 whereas custom orthotics usually cost anywhere between $300-$500. The difference in price is directly related to the quality and life of the orthotic. Over the counter orthotics will last approximately 3 months before breaking down while custom orthotics will last approximately 2 years. Custom orthotics are also molded to your own foot to create a perfect fit. This is why most extended health plans will cover custom orthotics but not over the counter orthotics.
- Effectiveness. While over the counter orthotics may feel soft and cushy, they are usually not doing much more than providing comfort. The soft gel of these orthotics will flatten as soon as they are stepped on which means they do not have any therapeutic benefit. Custom orthotics are made of a rigid material that will retain shape when stepped on to provide support and correct the gait.
- Customization. Custom orthotics prescribed and molded by a healthcare practitioner are the only type of orthotic that are actually 100% accurate for your foot. The mats that you see at drugstores claim that they customize an orthotic for you but this is just a marketing technique as it is still putting you into a category and fitting you to an orthotic that may not be ideal for you. Every individual’s feet are unique from others; in fact, our own two feet are even unique from each other so this categorization system does not work!
In our office, we use the gaitscan technology that uses a scanner to create a 3-D picture of your foot. The gaitscanner has 4096 sensors and is the industry leader in dynamic scanning. Over a million points of data are recorded, tracking minor flaws in your biomechanics and shedding light on issues that if left untreated, could develop into painful conditions over time. If you or your loved ones are experiencing foot, knee or low back/hip pain, you may need a custom orthotic device to improve your quality of life. You can visit us at our downtown Vancouver office or call to book an appointment at 604-688-0077.