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Custom Orthotics Provide Foot Pain Relief, Help in Recovery

With most people sitting an average of 6.5 hours each day, it can be easy to forget how important it is to have healthy feet. Yet, one in five people complains of foot pain, aching, and stiffness when they do stand up.

Foot pain can be caused by several conditions, including arthritis, inflammation, injury, and neuropathy. Regardless of the reason behind the pain, most people want relief. Custom shoe orthotics can sometimes help achieve that goal.

Custom orthotics are designed to provide comfort and support based on individual needs. They differ from the over-the-counter shoe inserts you find in most retail stores because they are suited to a person’s specific condition. A foot doctor, known as a podiatrist, can evaluate foot conditions to determine if custom shoe orthotics would be beneficial. There are two kinds of prescription orthotics:

Accommodative orthotics are soft and prescribed when a person needs extra cushioning or support. Diabetic foot conditions and painful calluses are just two of the foot problems that can be alleviated with this type of orthotic.

Functional orthotics control abnormal motion and can be used to treat foot pain caused by irregular movement or certain injuries like shin splints and tendinitis.

Alex Tauberg of Tauberg Chiropractic & Rehabilitation–The Pittsburgh Chiropractor offers state-of-the-art custom foot orthotics to help his patients get back to their favorite activities. He said that there are many culprits behind foot pain; some of the most common include bunions, metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, sprains, and strains.

“Oftentimes, a condition can be identified based on the location of the pain and the history of how it started,” he explained. “Plantar fasciitis commonly presents with pain on the bottom of the foot, closer to the heel. The pain is usually at its worst first thing in the morning. It often comes about as a result of overuse.”

Sprains and strains usually happen following a traumatic event involving a ligament, muscle or tendon, when a load has been placed on it that it is not prepared to handle. Landing awkwardly on your foot and twisting your ankle while playing basketball is a good example of this kind of injury.

Sometimes proper exercise therapy with a chiropractor or physical therapist can help reverse these painful foot conditions. “Chiropractors do this by educating patients on how to manage their conditions and showing them exercises and stretches that can increase, decrease, or redistribute the load placed on the injured area and the foot in general,” explained Tauberg.

Combining these kinds of chiropractic treatments with custom shoe orthotics can maximize relief in certain patients. Load management is one way that an orthotic can help with foot pain.

“Overuse of the foot is one factor that can potentially cause a painful condition. If too much force is transferred through the foot in a manner that it is not prepared for, an injury is likely to happen,” said Tauberg. “This can happen all at once, such as in a traumatic event like a sprain, or over time, like we see with plantar fasciitis.”

When walking, the weight distribution through the foot changes, he added, causing forces through the foot to change as well.

“Orthotics are able to manage and redistribute the forces that we put through the foot. Redistributing the force can take stress off of areas that are more likely to develop injuries,” he said. “When a foot presses down on an orthotic, the orthotic dampens the amount of stress placed on individual parts of the foot. Reducing this overall load allows for proper recovery of the area.”

Tauberg added that any time someone is dealing with a foot injury, he recommends getting truly customized orthotics and not the pre-made ones found in retail stores. While many orthotics, including over-the-counter versions, claim to provide a custom fit, a truly custom fit only can be achieved by taking a mold or high-tech, three-dimensional scan of the foot.

“Some companies take a flatbed scan of the foot and then use this to find an orthotic that closely matches the foot. While these often fit better than just picking an orthotic off the shelf, they are not truly designed and customized to your foot,” he said.

Tauberg uses 3-D technology to scan patients’ feet and then prints their orthotics using a 3-D printer. Traditional orthotics have a short lifespan compared to the durable versions Tauberg creates that can last for four to five years.

To learn more about custom orthotics or to schedule a consult with Tauberg, visit

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