You may have heard the terms insoles and orthotics used by doctors, friends, or on the internet. But do you know the difference between insoles and orthotics? How do you decide which is the right choice for you? Come along with us as we provide this guide to insoles vs orthotics. Here at Best Foot Doctor NY, we have everything you need to know with convenient locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
Why You May Want to Consider Insoles or Orthotics
There are several reasons to consider orthotics or insoles.
Chronic Foot Pain
Insoles or orthotics may be the right choice if you struggle with chronic foot pain. Patients can experience foot pain for a variety of reasons including anatomical deformities, injury, and degenerative processes. Pain is often an early sign of injury but wearing shoe inserts to support your foot can help to relieve that pain and slow the injury.
If you have a job that requires you to be on your feet all day, you increase your risk for certain injuries and degenerative conditions. Orthotics can help support your feet and decrease that risk.
Certain sports, or even long travel days, can be hard on your feet. Consider how an insert can help to cushion and support your foot, providing a more comfortable foundation for your body and allowing you to be the best version of yourself.
Consult a New York City Podiatrist
Before determining if orthotics or insoles are the best solution for you, consult a physician. Podiatrists are medical doctors with advanced training and experience in foot and ankle care. If you are looking for a podiatrist in New York, consider Best Foot Doctor NY. With convenient locations in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, we are ready and willing to help you figure out not only if insoles or orthotics are the right choice, but also determine the cause of your foot pain and offer long-term solutions to help you achieve greater physical well-being.
Common Foot Conditions that Require Shoe Inserts
Insoles and orthotics are two types of shoe inserts. They are similar, with slightly different benefits. We will discuss these differences and benefits later in this article. For now, here are some common foot conditions that may require shoe inserts. The terms insole, insert, and orthotic will be used interchangeably when discussing these foot conditions. Consult your local NY podiatrist to determine which is most helpful for your condition.
Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammation of the ligament that runs across the base of your foot. It is typically quite painful. An orthotic can provide structural support to the fascia and reduce pain. This time of rest allows the fascia to become less inflamed.
Flat foot is a condition in which the arch of the foot is lower than normal. This can be a genetic condition or caused by arthritis, weakened ligaments, or a variety of other reasons. Flat foot often leads to complications such as knee, hip, or back pain. It can also affect your posture. Shoe inserts support the foot and help to hold the arch in a more neutral location.
Multiple other conditions can cause Morton’s neuroma–a painful inflamed nerve in the ball of the foot. Once again, support and cushion from a designated insole can help relieve pain from Morton’s neuroma.
Patients with diabetes or neuropathy are at increased risk of developing foot ulcers. Soft orthotics can provide cushion and protect an ulcerated area of skin.
Degenerated Fat Pads
As we age, the natural pockets of fat throughout the body tend to break down especially on the feet. Insoles cushion the feet and reduce pain and friction as you walk.
Haglund’s deformity is a painful condition of the back of the heel. Commonly, it is caused by wearing shoes that rub the back of the foot or have high heels, though patients with high arches are also prone to Haglund’s deformity. Wearing orthotics can help support high arches and reduce the extra pressure on the back of the foot.
Corns are painful thickened areas of skin formed from excessive friction or pressure on the skin. They are usually found near joints. Inserts can support the foot and help prevent corns from forming.
A bunion is a painful condition of the toe in which the joint becomes malformed and the bones shift. A soft insert can help to support the joint and relieve pain, but custom-made stiff orthotics can actually help to realign your bones. Consult your NYC podiatrist for more information about bunion care and support.
Heel spurs are similar to Haglund’s deformity in that they affect the back of the foot or the heel. With repeated stress on the heel bone, calcium deposits build up and form an extra growth on the back of the heel. Orthotics can provide pain relief as they cushion and support the heel.
Insoles vs. Orthotics
So what is the difference between insoles and orthotics and how do you know which one to choose? We are so glad you asked!
Insoles can be purchased over-the-counter at most drugstores. They come in various shapes and sizes. They are usually made of some sort of foam and are soft and cushioning. They do provide support and can help reduce pain. Some are more rigid.
Insoles are designed to slide into the base of your shoe. Different shapes will fit better into different shoes, but they are not custom made for your foot.
Insoles are relatively inexpensive and last for several months, depending on how often you wear them and your activity level.
Insoles are a good choice if you are looking for extra support and cushion but aren’t actively having foot problems or chronic pain. If you start wearing insoles and notice that you have increased pain, consult a podiatrist right away to determine the cause of the pain and if you may need custom orthotics rather than insoles.
Orthotics are also designed to go inside your shoe and provide support and cushion for your feet to relieve pain, but there the similarity begins to end.
Orthotics can be made of a variety of materials and be soft or hard. They are made custom for your feet and condition and are only available with a podiatrist’s oversight.
Orthotics are generally more expensive than insoles, but they are designed to last for several years rather than several months.
A Word about Insurance
At Best Foot Doctor NY we care about getting you the help you need and have financial support in place to come alongside you in that process. Here is a partial list of the insurance companies that we accept:
- BlueCross BlueShield
- Oxford Health Plus
- United Health Care
- …and More!
Do not allow concern about cost to dissuade you from getting a podiatry consult. Contact our office today to discuss financial resources available to you.
What to Expect at an Orthotics Appointment
When you go to a podiatrist, they will first get a detailed history and symptoms assessment from you. They may take x-ray or MRI images if necessary to help determine an appropriate diagnosis. Then they will discuss treatment options. Conservative treatments often include orthotics for pain relief and support. Even if you and your foot doctor decide that you need surgery, you may end up using orthotics before or after surgery for added support and decreased pain.
The Process of Getting Custom Orthotics
Getting orthotics custom made for your foot is a simple process. First the doctor will get a custom plaster mold of your feet. After allowing your feet to set in the plaster, they will help you to gently remove your feet from the plaster and use that mold to make orthotics that are shaped exactly for your feet.
It may take a few days to a week to get your orthotics back. After they are ready, you will meet with your podiatrist to go over instructions for wear and to ensure that they fit you properly. Be sure to follow your doctor’s directions, recognizing that it may take several days to get used to the feel of a hard object in your shoes. If you think that the orthotics are making your pain worse or you notice any gait disturbances while you are walking, contact your podiatrist right away.
Contact Best Foot Doctor for all Your Orthotic Needs
No matter the reason, we want to help you live pain-free. Our team of podiatry professionals are competent and caring. We will help you through each step of the process.
Whether you are looking for a little extra support for a long shift or need more comprehensive medical treatment, we at Best Foot Doctor NY will provide you with the care and support you need to be your best self. You are not alone. Contact us today to set up an appointment and be on your way to a more healthy and happy foot journey.