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Insoles, Inserts, Orthotics… Oh My

Lately, it seems that shoe insoles are experiencing a newfound popularity. No matter where you look—television, shoe stores, pharmacies, and even grocery stores—there are products aimed at relieving foot pain. At Ankle & Foot Specialist of N.J., we often treat patients with foot pain let down by over-the-counter shoe. Allow us to detangle the confusing world of insoles, inserts, and orthotics to help you find the best option.

Over-the-counter insoles, inserts, and arch supporters refer to the same product. They are readily available at CVS, Target, Walmart, Shoprite, etc. They are designed to offer additional cushioning for your feet by providing minor support. They are typically made out of soft material and deform very easily. They need to be replaced regularly, usually every 3-6 months on average. 

People who experience foot pain, especially in the arches, tend to gravitate towards these widely available inserts thinking that the extra cushioning will ease or eliminate their pain. While an insole that cushions your feet can feel great, the relief is often temporar because these products only provide cushioning and fail to address the underlying issues that cause pain in your foot. If you are dealing with chronic foot pain, a trip to Walgreens for gel inserts may not offer a long- term solution you require. Consider visiting your podiatrist for a medical diagnosis before wasting any more money on shoe inserts.

Unlike over-the-counter insoles, orthotics are available at medical offices like our own. Orthotics are firmer and more supportive inserts for your feet. They are made from more durable plastic materials. Most importantly, orthotics don’t just provide cushioning but actual support for the arches. In some cases, a podiatrist may recommend custom orthotics after evaluating your foot type.

Common causes that require orthotics

Custom orthotics are made specifically for your feet. The podiatrist  may either make a mold of your foot or fabricated the orthotic on site. If over-the-counter cushioning inserts are not addressing your foot pain, schedule an appointment with our podiatrists. Our doctors can prescribe a custom orthotic for you. Remember, just because an insole is advertised as “custom fit,” it does not mean it is truly custom. Call and talk to one of our doctors before making any purchases to make sure you get the best help for your feet.  Make an appointment with one of our podiatrists for an evaluation to discuss which orthotics work best for you.

The best way to treat foot pain is to address the root causes. No one is better equipped to examine the biomechanics of the foot and get to the source of the pain than a podiatrist. If you are tired of the pain in your feet and want to treat conditions that cause pain in the foot like flat feet, high arches, plantar fasciitis, or Achilles tendinitis, then make an appointment at one of our five convenient location in New Jersey.


Rohit Lanez-Sharma

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