Custom vs. Pre-Fabricated: Which Supports Do You Need?

No doubt you’ve seen ads for off-the-shelf shoe inserts—or seen them on the rack at a local drugstore or pharmacy. You may well have heard about custom orthotics, too—prescription inserts that are custom fitted to your feet by an expert and specially manufactured. You may know that you need a little extra support for your foot problems, but you aren’t sure which version is right for you. How do you know what you need?

The first thing to know, right off the bat, is that most of the time the custom orthotic is going to give you better results. That’s just common sense—a device selected by an expert and specially crafted to fit your foot with exacting precision is naturally going to provide faster, more complete relief in most cases than a generic design. Every foot is unique, after all.

There are other advantages to the custom orthotic as well. For example, they can incorporate a wider variety of materials in their construction and address a greater range of foot conditions, they last longer (which helps offset the higher initial price point), and they can be adjusted periodically to retain peak effectiveness. If your foot or gait problems are more severe, or you have a foot shape falls a little outside the center of the bell curve, custom supports are almost certainly the best choice for you.

However, pre-fabricated supports also have advantages and may be preferred in some cases. Although you won’t get that precise fit, they’re cheaper, easily available and replaceable, and require no waiting time for manufacturing. If your foot problems are less severe or your feet have a more ordinary foot shape, the correct pre-fabricated support may provide near or equal benefit to a custom piece with less fuss and at a fraction of the cost. While drugstore insoles are generally going to be low quality, our office does carry a range of high-quality pre-fabricated arch supports that can be adjusted to a limited extent, and are often available for $50 or less.

In any case, though, it’s important to get a proper examination and diagnosis from a podiatrist first. While the right insert may provide substantial improvement, the wrong one will help little or even make the problem worse. To find the right support for your unique feet, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Keith McSpadden at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute today. Request a time online, or give us a call at 512-593-2949.

Posted on February 2, 2016 and filed under General.