Have you been looking for something to help alleviate your foot pain? You may want to consider getting a shoe insert or custom orthotic. Shoe inserts and orthotics come in many different varieties and prices, but how do you know which one is best? This information from The ACFAS and The APMA should help clarify this for you!


 Arch supports and shoe inserts can be placed inside shoes to support and align the foot and lower extremities including knees, hips, and lower back. Shoe inserts can be helpful for a variety of foot problems including flat arches and foot and leg pain. They also may help prevent the progression of a foot deformity and improve your foot function. Shoe inserts are used to help cushion your feet, provide comfort, and support your arches, however they can’t correct biomechanical foot problems or cure long-standing foot issues. Some common types of over-the-counter shoe inserts are:


  • Arch Supports– Designed to support the foot‘s natural arch
  • Insoles– Made of gel, foam, or plastic and used to provide extra cushioning and support
  • Heel Liners– Heel liners, pads, or cups can be useful for patients who have foot pain caused by thinning of the heels’ natural fat pads
  • Foot Cushions– Designed to be used as a barrier between you and any area your shoe may be irritating

It can be hard to determine which over-the-counter shoe insert is right for you and your specific needs. The American Podiatry Medical Association offers the following tips:


  • Consider your health– If you have diabetes or circulation problems, you may need something more than an over-the-counter-insert. These health conditions can increase your risk of foot ulcers and infections. Schedule an appointment with your podiatrist so they can help you find the best solution.
  • Think about purpose– Look for a product that fits your level of activity.  Do you need a little more arch support in your shoes, or are you planning to run a marathon?
  • Bring your shoes– For the insert to be effective, it has to fit into your shoes. Bring the shoes with you when shopping for an insert so you can find one that fits the contours of your shoe.
Custom Prescription Orthotics

These orthotics are medical devices prescribed by a foot and ankle surgeon. Custom orthotics are made especially for you to match the contours of your feet and are designed for the way you move. Orthotics can be used to accommodate or offload a prominent area, and also help the foot function better in cases like tendonitis, fasciitis, and other mechanically derived conditions. Orthotics can help support and align the foot and lower extremities as well. There are two different types of prescription orthotics:


1.  Function orthotics– These are designed to control abnormal motion. They may be used to treat foot pain and injuries such as shin splints or tendonitis. Functional orthotics are usually made of a semi-rigid material such as plastic or graphite.

2. Accommodative orthotics- This type of orthotic is softer and meant to provide additional cushioning and support. Accommodative orthotics can be used to treat diabetic foot ulcers, calluses on the bottom of the foot, and other uncomfortable conditions.

 Orthotics can be very beneficial in treating foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, bursitis, tendonitis, diabetic foot ulcers, and foot, ankle, and heel pain. Research has shown that custom prescription orthotics can decrease foot pain and improve function. Custom orthotics typically cost more than shoe inserts, but the cost is usually well worth it. Because the orthotics are molded to each individual foot, you can get the full benefit of the orthotic fit and what it is supposed to do. The orthotics are also made of top-notch materials and can last many years when taken care of properly. Some insurance plans may even help cover the cost!


 If you have been experiencing foot and ankle pain or would like more information on custom prescription orthotics, contact Dr. Kylin Kovac and Dr. Jed Erickson at Idaho Foot & Ankle Center. They have the knowledge and experience to find the right diagnosis and can determine the best treatment plan for you! Idaho Foot & Ankle Center offers many innovative treatment options to help you get feeling better and back on your feet!

Some content provided by The ACFAS and The APMA.