Are Custom Foot Orthotics Worth It?
Custom made foot orthotics and prosthetics can be EXPENSIVE! If you don’t want to waste your money, make 100% sure you are educated.
Should I get custom Foot Orthotics?
Patients will frequently walk into the clinic and say, “I’m here for custom orthotics.” They are not even quite sure what is wrong with their foot, or what the benefits and negatives of custom foot orthotics are.
The belief is that a cushioned plastic device will perfectly wrap around the bottom of your foot and make all your foot pain go away. This misconception is why people sometimes pay such a large amount of money and are so disappointed when they finally get it. There is 0% chance that an orthotic can instantly heal your foot pain, just like a cast does not instantly heal a broken ankle.
In most cases, even when the orthotic is working, the average person receives about 50% of foot pain improvement per month. This frequently depends on what exactly your problems are.
After reading this guide, I promise you will not be one of those people. You will be a smart and informed buyer who gets the best value for your hard-earned dollar! Just to make clear, I will be brutally honest about the benefits and negatives of custom orthotics. We will rely on hard proven data and facts to back up some of the bold claims made here.
Does this mean all orthotics are bad? Absolutely not, they can change your life and make your foot pain go away. The can be the difference between a lifetime of pain and arthritis vs. pain free biomechanics.In fact, you will find no bigger fan of custom orthotics than me.
My goal is to warn you of all the negatives surrounding custom foot orthotics, and the people who try to take advantage of the large bloated cost. Unfortunately getting custom orthotics can be a lot like buying something from a network marketing group, you need to cross your finger about the hype and about 19 different people need to get paid for you to get!
Who is the best specialist to get custom orthotics from?
Podiatrist: Following medical school training, they receive between 3-4 years surgical and biomechanical training in foot and ankle problems. Most podiatrists become board certified specifically in foot and ankle surgery and biomechanics.
Prosthetist: They are excellent for working with your specialists fo
Orthopedic surgeon: Following medical school training, they receive 5 years surgical training on general whole body surgery. A rare few spend a year focusing on 1 year foot and ankle specialization.
Orthotists and Prosthetists for Custom Made Foot Orthotics:
Orthotists and prosthetists as a specialty can design and fabricate artificial limbs for all body parts and appendages. They undergo extensive training and generally possess resources like an on-site laboratory to create these prosthesis and orthoses. Most of the time around the world (although this may differ depending on country) a prescription is needed by a specialist such as a podiatrist, a physiatrist, or an orthopedic physician to fill this prescription.
Orthotists and prosthetists can be an excellent source to have your prescription for orthotics filled. There’s no downside to getting this made, but at the same time there are some great orthotics labs, and some not so great orthotics labs.
I personally love to use orthotists and prosthetists for any complex foot and ankle situation. When someone has a very complicated foot type and issue, this is an excellent route to go. The main reason being if you need a more unique type of insert this allows you to make multiple trips back and forth and have excellent access to a specialist with the equipment right then and there to adjust it on the spot. No profession on average has better access to equipment to modifications.
Pros: They have more ability than any other specialist to make and modify your orthotic. They can make more unique designs, with different material types. These are my personal choice for any complex foot and ankle orthotic or prosthetic.
Cons: This results in numerous trips; you will likely have to get a prescription well ahead of time. Think of them as manufacturers of an order, rather than to designer who places the order. There is the possibility for miscommunication, which could lead to the patient becoming frustrated with the design of their custom foot orthotics.
Summary: Prosthetists are an excellent choice for getting custom made foot orthotics. A great deal of podiatrists including myself love to work with them to create prosthetics and custom foot orthotics that we could never create on our own. At the same time is not practical for people to make numerous trips to get these for straightforward foot and ankle issues. There can be a disconnect in miscommunication regarding the orthotic that needs to be made when many people get involved. Specialists should definitely use them for any complex foot and ankle issue.
Does insurance cover custom foot orthotics cost?
Most people assume that they have a good insurance and that their insurance should cover it. They are shocked and terrified and very frequently angry when they realize that they have co-pays and that they just paid about $300 to $400 for a piece of plastic that likely was not all that expensive to make, probably $20-$30 of material.
In fact, insurance will much rather pay for your surgery than help you cover your custom orthotic in most cases. This is how much of a controversy there is surrounding the effectiveness and abuse of custom orthotics.
How long do I have to wait for insurance approval of custom orthotics?
To top it all off, the patient then realizes that they just waited months to get this orthotic approved by insurance, and then finally get it without all of their pain going away.
When are custom prescription foot orthotics and prosthetics worth it?
They are worth it when you can avoid all the unethical and poor-quality suppliers of these products. Unfortunately, this could even include healthcare practitioners with poor ethics. Anytime there’s a lot of money involved; you know there will be people trying to make a quick buck.
There are many practitioners out there who will prescribe it for every single problem—- or some never at all.
There are even orthotics advertisements out there claiming to cure your headache with orthotics! Just like any vitamin or supplement, orthotics advertisements claim to solve every problem in the world, and there are even some patients I have seen that have claimed their headache has gone away!
Custom foot orthotics and prosthetics are dream product to sell, nobody really knows a lot about them, nobody really knows what makes a good one, and some people will gladly pay over $500 to get one!
It is nearly impossible for consumers to know if they need and orthotic, or one expert prescription is for quality product.
The good news is that there are a lot of excellent practitioners who want to help you for a low-cost price.
When Are Custom Orthotics Good?
This puts a lot of pressure on the practitioner, this is probably the number one source of bad reviews for a foot specialist so people give up on this completely. You could see that a poorly educated orthotic prescription is painful for both the practitioner and for the patient.
The only people that keep pushing an effective orthotics are the unethical people or people selling custom orthotics online or by scanning type of computer device without evaluating the patient.
As you will learn throughout this guide, the single most important thing is creating a pathology specific custom orthotic.
Custom foot orthotics and orthopedic footwear or modifications can be helpful for very specific medical situations and diseases. Studies themselves can be very effective because it is very difficult to study how effective these inserts truly are. Nobody has the same foot across hundreds of different people, even people with certain conditions like plantar fasciitis and high arched fee have thousands of variations with use.