Orthotic: an artificial support or brace for the limbs or spine.

In the case of Podiatry we are primarily concerned with lower limb orthotics and specifically those that fit in your shoes.

Generally speaking the styles and types of orthotics that we can use fall into 1 of 2 types:

  • Soft based
  • Hard based
  • Soft based orthotics are generally prefabricated devices. They are routinely made from materials such as EVA (Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate) These are best described as a firm foam like material.

    These sorts of devices have many uses:

    • Cushioning
    • Quick to provide
    • Cheap
    • Short lifespan (and so useful for soft tissue injuries that just require short term help)

    They also have constraints:

    • They are bulky, shoe fit can be problematic
    • Short lifespan (for long term conditions and structural deformities they do not last long enough to be cost effective)
    • The maximum ‘strength’ of the device is restricted by body weight, i.e. the heavier the patient the less effective they are due to the amount they compress and the shorter the life of the device.

    Hard Based Orthotics

    These devices tend to be made from more robust materials such as polypropylene and carbon fibre. Ordinarily these are made bespoke to a patients feet by taking a mold of them and making the orthotic from that.

    They have many benefits:

    • They potentially have more control over lower limb biomechanics due to being more robust than soft based devices.
    • They are more appropriate for heavier patients
    • They can be made very slim making shoe fit much easier
    • They can be made as specific as required and so tailored to a patients problems rather than being adapted as the soft based ones are.
    • The life span of the devices is significantly longer than the soft based ones.
    • Ironically being ‘hard based’ does not mean that they are hard underfoot. The manufacturing process along with material selection means that this is rarely an issue.

    For more help and information make an appointment with us here.