I have to admit I am a bit of a geek when it comes to new technology. Even more so when those innovations that can directly help my patients. So I was happy when we received our updated foot scanner from Foot Levelers.
For quite a few years now we have dispensed with using plaster casts to take impressions of patients’ feet in order to make custom orthotic arch supports. We have been using a computerized foot scanner that takes an image of the foot to more accurately depict what is going on with each foot. The nice thing about a computerized scanner is that we can send the measurements directly to have the orthotics made. Patients can receive their custom orthotics in less than two weeks.
Now technology marches on and the latest foot scanner uses lasers to create a three-dimensional image of the foot. Like before, a patient with foot issues such as plantar fasciitis can quickly have their feet scanned by simply standing barefoot on the scanner while a computerized impression is taken. The more accurate the impression, the better the customized orthotic.
For several reasons I prefer to use Foot Levelers orthotics.
1) The orthotics are designed so that they support the three main arches of the feet. Most over-the-counter orthotics and even some custom orthotics address mainly the inner arch of the foot. Although this is the biggest arch of the foot and is particularly involved with plantar fasciitis, all three arches work together in unison. If any arch is not properly supported, the overall mechanics of the foot will not be ideal.
For those suffering from metatarsalgia (pain at the ball the foot), it is critical to support the arch that runs across the front of the foot. In fact, it is the flattening of that arch that misaligns the metatarsal bones and results in pain. Fortunately, a combination of adjusting the metatarsals back into place and supporting those bones with custom orthotics usually brings tremendous and lasting relief.
2) The orthotics are flexible. I have seen many patients have issues with the hard plastic custom orthotics that are frequently prescribed by podiatrists. It makes more sense to use a flexible orthotic because that allows for the normal movement of the foot that occurs throughout the gait cycle. A flexible orthotic also acts as a shock absorber for the foot and all the joints above, including the low back.
3) They are relatively inexpensive. I am always surprised by how much is charged for other types of custom orthotics. These include the hard orthotics that I found to be problematic for my patients.
When a patient presents with foot pain I will scan their feet to determine the need for orthotics. If needed, we will order them. Sometimes the patient is on a tight budget and we can try some high-quality over-the-counter orthotics. Although not in the same league as custom orthotics, they do provide some support and quite often are enough to make the difference.
While waiting for orthotics to come, I will begin the process of adjusting the bones of the feet to restore them to proper movement and positioning. In the case of certain conditions such as plantar fasciitis, I will perform soft tissue work to break up adhesions in the fascia. Lastly, I will give the patient a program of home stretches and exercises for the feet. To address
Using this combination approach, I have seen countless patients experience tremendous relief with their chronic foot pain.