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Custom Orthotics FAQ

What do foot orthotics actually do?

Prescription foot orthoses (commonly called "orthotics") are precision medical devices that adjust and control the function of the foot and its alignment with the lower leg. They are used to treat/prevent injury causing motions like excessive pronation (collapsing in) and supination (rolling out) and make standing, walking and running more effective. Some orthotics are designed to redistribute pressures on the bottom of your foot to alleviate pain from corns, calluses and bony prominences.


What about the orthotics I see in the drug stores, mall kiosks, stands at the consumer shows or on late night TV?

Many commercially available insoles are referred to as "orthotics." Some are quality products made by reputable companies while others are "dressed up" simple insoles. The hard part is telling the difference. Getting the right orthotics for you begins with a thorough examination by the team at North Hill Foot & Ankle Clinic. Real custom-made prescription foot orthotics are made from a plaster cast (or a 3D laser scan) taken by a trained professional and made in a qualified, accredited lab.


Do orthotics transfer from one pair of shoes to another?

Yes, they can be transferred between similar types of shoes. For example: if they were made primarily for athletic or walking type shoes, you can easily move them to another shoe of this type. However, you likely wouldn't be able to fit them in dress shoes (including high heels) or specialized footwear like ski boots or skates. Talk to Dr. Crosby about orthotics specifically designed for other shoe types.


Will I have to wear orthotics for the rest of my life?

When your pain is resolved, you may be able to go without them. However, Dr. Crosby may recommend you keep wearing them to keep your feet and legs properly aligned so as to prevent problems from recurring.


How do I take care of my orthotics?

Do not expose your orthotics to high heat (i.e. space or baseboard heaters, dryers, fireplaces, etc.). As well, it is recommended that you regularly take your orthotics out of your shoes to allow them to air out. Your orthotics can be washed with mild soap and warm water and then air dried.


How long should my orthotics last?

The effective life of rigid and semi-rigid orthotics is three to five years for most adults. Children's and adolescents' orthotics should be replaced each time their feet grow by one to two shoe sizes.


How are my North Hill Foot & Ankle Orthotics made?

1. Dr. Crosby will diagnosis you with the proper examination. Using a complete foot exam, Dr. Crosby ensures orthotic success through:

  • Understanding your history
  • Administering a physical exam
  • Biomechanical exam and gait analysis


2. Neutral suspension cast or 3D laser scan

Functional foot orthotics start with a proper non-weight bearing neutral cast or 3D laser scan. This captures the foot in its optimal neutral position (a weight-bearing cast would capture the foot in a collapsed position). This cast, with its prescription, is then sent to a professional certified orthotic lab.


3. Fabrication by a professional certified orthotic lab

  • Pouring of positive models
  • Prescription added to casts


4. Dispensing by Podiatrist

Many different types of orthotics are available based on your shoe type and activity needs. These include athletic, skate, ski, all-purpose and dress orthotics.


5. Follow-up care

Although most orthotic treatment plans are successful, Dr. Crosby completes your care with appropriate follow-up and further treatment. This can include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Prescription medication
  • Surgery
  • Adjustments/modifications of the orthotics
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