Orthotic inserts have undergone significant improvements in recent decades. They now make it possible to relieve many mechanical disorders. How do they work and how to get them?
Custom-made insoles now make it possible to treat a very wide range of disorders, explains orthopaedic-orthotist Jacques Fecherolle before listing
- Deformations such as flat or hollow feet
- The hallux valgus or claw toes
- Pain in the forefoot, such as metatarsalgia or Morton’s neuroma.
- Pain in the hindfoot, including calcaneal spur and achilles tendonitis.
- Calluses and corns from too much support.
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How do orthotic inserts work?
In particular by better distributing the pressure exerted on the sole of the foot, thanks to a clever mix of raising and digging. “A hollow foot sole has a raised arch to support the arch and a recess in the heel to reduce the loads it has to support. A sole for pain related to Morton’s neuroma will include an elevation of the forefoot“, illustrates Jacques Fecherolle.
How do you get it?
orthotic inserts are prescribed by a doctor and then made by a chiropodist or orthopaedic-orthoticist. These “analyze the shape and different pressure points of the foot, as well as the patient’s gait and standing posture. Based on this data, they determine the disorder(s) involved and the necessary corrections,” explains Cyril Marchou, a chiropodist-podiatrist, and posturologist and delegate of the French Union for Foot Health.
The insoles are then moulded onto the patient’s foot. They cost between €75 and €360 per pair, of which only €17.32 is reimbursed by Social Security. They have an average lifespan of 1 to 2 years. In a few cases (hollow foot, for example), they must be renewed on a long-term basis, even for life.
What’s their point?
Custom-made orthotic insoles, or foot orthoses, compensate for various foot deficiencies and relieve related pain. “In the case of mild to moderate disorders,” says Dr. Tulio Sarron, a doctor specializing in foot and ankle pathologies in Paris, “they are a simple, non-invasive alternative to surgery“.
In just a few decades, orthoses have become much more comfortable, thinner, stronger, and more effective. “This is thanks to the arrival of softer and more resistant materials, such as thermoplastic or EVA resin, and more precise manufacturing techniques, such as fusing or thermoforming,” says Cyril Marchou.
What are the limitations of orthotic inserts?
For severe disorders, orthoses should be combined with physiotherapy and/or anti-inflammatory injections. “In the case of very painful plantar fascia, deep massages will loosen the musculature and the fibrous membrane under the foot (fascia). If there is no improvement after several weeks, an infiltration of cortisone may be considered,” says Prof. François Rannou, rheumatologist-rehabilitator (Cochin Hospital, Paris). “Therapeutic footwear and/or toe orthotics can also help,” adds Dr. Sarron.