Orthotic & Bracing Options

Custom orthotics are one of the most powerful and versatile tools in a podiatrist’s arsenal. They’re also a great choice for patients. It’s always nice to find out that your problem can be solved by simply replacing the insoles in your shoe, rather than reconstructive surgery.

But there’s a lot of misunderstandings out there about what custom orthotics are, what they can do, and whether they’re even necessary. Being confronted by racks filled with “orthotics” every time you visit the pharmacy certainly doesn’t help the situation.

At North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute, we provide both high quality prefabricated and custom orthotics to patients with a variety of foot issues. Read on to learn more.

Why Orthotics?

custom orthotics

Simply put, it’s about your biomechanics.

Feet and ankles come in all shapes and sizes, and the unfortunate truth is that not all feet are equally equipped to handle the rigors of standing and walking on the hard, flat surfaces of the modern world.

Structural flaws and inefficient gait mechanics are extremely common. And depending on your specific foot and ankle biomechanics, you may be more susceptible to a wide range of conditions, including:

The right pair of orthotics, however, can put your feet back into proper positioning and alignment, support aching arches, and soften the blow of your daily steps. In many ways, you can think of them doing for your feet what glasses or contacts do for poor vision.

But just like glasses or contacts, you need the right prescription for your orthotics to do you any good. Let’s discuss some of your options.

Prefabricated Orthotics

Prefabricated orthotics are the cheapest and simplest option available that may help you with your foot and ankle pain.

There are some potential downsides to choosing prefabs. The most obvious is that, because they are based on predetermined foot types and not truly customized to your specific feet, they are not as effective on average as true custom orthotics, and may not work for all kinds of foot problems. They are also generally not as durable and need to be replaced much more often, making the financial savings not as strong as advertised.

However, some people with only mild to moderate foot pain may do just fine with prefabricated orthotics. It’s just a matter of making sure you get the right pair.

For that reason, we strongly discourage you from simply buying a pair off the rack at the drugstore—even one with a fancy-looking foot scanner kiosk to help your selection. This is no substitute for the trained experience of a real foot and ankle expert!

At North Austin Foot & Ankle, we carry a selection of high-quality, adjustable arch supports in our office. We’ll make sure you get the right one for your specific needs—and at $50 or less for a pair, you aren’t even paying more than you would for similar quality inserts at the store.

Custom Orthotics

Custom orthotics are created and molded from scratch, so they fit your feet precisely and exactly. This allows them to provide superior performance, stability, motion control, and pain relief for those that need more than what a prefabricated orthotic can provide.

We start with an examination at our office, where we make a mold of your feet. That mold is sent to the lab, which creates the orthotic to our specifications. When the orthotics arrive, we’ll let you know that you can pick them up, and make any necessary final adjustments once you arrive.

Custom orthotics can be made from a wide variety of materials, but tend to fall into two basic categories:

  • Functional orthotics are designed to control or fix abnormal foot or ankle motions. For example, an athlete who severely overpronates when they walk or run may greatly benefit from a functional orthotic that helps keep their feet aligned in a more normal position. This promotes a healthier gait.

    Functional orthotics are often made from semi-rigid materials, like plastic or graphite. They may be combined with an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO), which is a brace that extends above your ankle joint and can greatly assist with conditions such as arthritis, adult-acquired flatfoot, drop foot, and some neuromuscular disorders.
  • Accommodative orthotics add extra cushioning or support, deflecting weight and pressure away from overburdened location. A good accommodative orthotic can help with uncomfortable problems such as ulcers, plantar fasciitis, neuromas, bunions and hammertoes, and more. They tend to be made from soft materials like cork or silicone.

To Fix the Right Foot Problem, You Need the Right Tool


Considering the vast array of inserts labeled “orthotics” that are out there—generic pharmacy insoles, prefabricated arch supports, heel cups, wedges, metatarsal pads, custom orthotics—it’s no surprise that many people find it all confusing, or wonder if such things really work.

While the right orthotic can provide major pain relief or mechanical improvement for a multitude of foot conditions, the wrong tool might provide little benefit, make the original problem worse, or even introduce new problems.

That’s why it’s important to see our doctors at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute for a thorough evaluation, before you make any decisions about what kind of shoe insert (if any) is right for you. We understand the intricacies of proper foot and ankle biomechanics and can make a recommendation for an orthotic device—whether custom or prefabricated—that will give you quality results at the best possible price point.

To schedule an appointment with us, or to learn more about whether prefabricated or custom orthotics may be right for you, please call 512-593-2949. You can also request an appointment online.

To schedule an appointment with us, or to learn more about whether custom orthotics may be right for you, please call 512-593-2949. You can also request an appointment online.