Orthotics is the specialist medical field focusing on the development of devices such as medical braces to help people who need assistance with movement and lower limbs… Thus, orthotics is concerned with alleviating painful conditions caused by various foot and ankle diseases through many semi-permanent devices.
The orthotic devices can be classified into the following types.
Functional Foot Orthotics
These orthotic devices alter the movement of the foot and the lower limb. Such devices have a good control over the movements. The shells of such devices are made of semi-rigid plastics while a soft material is used to make the top cover.
Accommodative Foot Orthotics
This type of orthotic device is used when even redistribution of forces through the plantar aspect of the foot is required. Such devices do not have an effect on the movement pattern of the foot and lower limbs. Accommodative foot orthotics are made of soft materials which are designed to absorb shock.
There are a number of health problems which require orthotics. Some have been mentioned here.
- Knee pain: A sideways force on the knee joint caused by a disruption of the alignment between knee, hip and foot leads to knee pain. An orthotic is required to be worn in the shoe to treat this problem.
- Rigid feet: Rigid foot is a condition where one is not able to place their foot flat on the ground because of lack of ability to absorb the shock generated by ground contact. The common cause is the high archness of the foot which exposes only the ball and heel to the ground. In such conditions, an orthotic is designed to distribute the forces throughout the sole of the foot.
- Bony feet: The tissues present under the skin of the sole can wear out and finally disappear. As a result, the sole of the foot only has skin and bone which makes walking very difficult for the person. In such a condition, an orthotic in the form of a soft cushioned insole is used to relieve discomfort.
- Stiff ankle: Stiff ankle is caused when the ankle does not flex sufficiently. In this condition, an orthotic is used to help improve mobility.
- Claw toes: Orthotic devices are available for straightening claw toes. The device is made using quick setting silicone rubber which is molded around the toes directly and allowed to set.
- Short leg: Short leg is a condition in which the right or left leg is shorter in length as compared to other. In such cases, a heel-raising orthotic device is used.
Types of Orthotic Devices
- Foot pads and shoe inserts – Foot pads are used to reduce the foot pain. They are placed inside the shoe or at the bottom of the foot. They include insoles, inlays and footbed and arch supports. Shoe inserts can be soft or firm depending upon the foot condition.
- Customized foot pads – Customized foot pads and shoe inserts are made according to the foot of the patient. The main functions of these foot orthotics are supporting, correcting or preventing various abnormalities of the foot.
- Knee braces – Knee brace provides support to the knee and imparts stability during movements. Muscular impairment, ligament tear or neurological conditions affect the flexion of the knee and knee braces provide crucial support during the healing period.
- Ankle braces – Ankle brace covers the ankle area all the way to the foot. Such braces are used to alleviate problems caused by many diseases such as ankle arthritis, tendinitis, foot drop, etc.
Apart from foot orthotic devices, spinal orthotic devices to treat spine curvature disorders are also available. These devices are called spinal braces.