What is the difference between custom foot orthoses, and retail devices sold by unqualified non-healthcare professionals?
Orthotics appear as special insoles to be inserted into your shoes for daily use. They are meant to treat various musculoskeletal conditions such as painful flat feet, foot deformities, overuse injuries, and high-risk diabetic feet.
Custom orthoses (orthotics) are specifically designed for each individual; you should never try to use someone else’s pair of orthoses.
First developed jointly by doctors and podiatrists (then called chiropodists), custom foot orthoses (orthotics) have been in use for over 100 years. Over time, the design and manufacture of foot orthoses have greatly improved. Medical research in foot orthoses is ongoing, as professionals continue to improve on device materials and concepts.
Accommodative: This type is for protecting foot deformities and high-risk diabetic feet.
Functional: This type is for correcting musculoskeletal misalignments and offloading stresses and injuries.
Custom foot orthoses are Class A medical devices as per HSA regulations. Arch-support insoles found in malls and shops are not true custom orthoses. Despite their claims, retail stores are not allowed to prescribe and dispense true medical devices.
Podiatrists are certified clinical specialists who are specially trained to prescribe and design custom foot orthoses, after making a comprehensive diagnosis of a patient’s musculoskeletal problems.
Retail “corrective insoles” may not truly treat a person’s condition, may be uncomfortable to use, and may even make the condition worse!
Foot orthoses were developed by podiatrists and doctors over a century ago; it is a major area of study for the podiatry profession. Podiatrists specialise in utilising orthoses to painlessly treat a variety of lower limb conditions.
Podiatrists are experts in shoe evaluation and selection, targeting a patient’s specific lower extremity needs for both daily wear and sports. Podiatrists also recognize the modern Singaporean’s need to complement function with aesthetics; we can refer you to shoe stores which carry ergonomic shoes for business or casual wear, and guide you through suitable selections according to your needs.
A full biomechanics assessment is undertaken to address all causes of lower limb abnormality.
Weight bearing examination and non-weight bearing examination are undertaken to assess the joints of the feet in relation to the rest of the body.
3D scanning of the feet produces an accurate image of your foot contouring to all aspects. This will form the base template for your custom orthoses.
Your custom foot orthoses will be made at an accredited orthotics lab. Before sending the order to the lab, our Podiatrist will make modifications to the base 3D template in order to address your specific biomechanical deficit, while taking into consideration your shoe preferences, your lifestyle & activities, and your medical conditions.
Prescription medications and surgery are required for primary treatment of arthritic joint pains, i.e. addressing the damage by repairing or replacing the joint.
We offer non-surgical secondary treatment: Orthopaedic shoes to accommodate bone deformity, accommodative insoles and braces which alleviate pain with motion, and therapeutic modalities for pain relief.
However, if treatment is sought early and before joint damage, non-surgical treatment may resolve the root cause, correct the biomechanical deficit, and prevent the need for surgery. Children especially benefit from correction and guided growth from orthotics, but it may not be too late even for adults.
Author: Podiatrist Louis LOY
Editor: Principal Podiatrist Michael LAI, DPM