Foot Orthoses – Therapeutic Footwear

A prescription pair of foot orthoses, commonly referred to as orthotics, insoles or arch supports, can be described as an in-shoe corrective brace designed to correct abnormal function of the foot, ankle and lower extremities. Foot orthoses decrease the strain on abnormal and injured foot and lower extremity structures, making it possible for them to heal pain-free. Additionally, orthoses can help prevent problems down the road from developing in the foot and ankle by lessening abnormal or pathological forces. Orthoses achieve this by correcting the weight bearing position of the foot. They are constructed from a variety of materials depending on their purpose or type.

The two types of prescription or custom orthoses are accommodative and functional.  Both are created based on a mold of the feet by using a foam box impression.  This ensures a proper fit for every patient.

Accommodative Orthoses

The purpose of an accommodative orthosis is to pad and cushion the bottom of the foot.  This reduces pressure of bony prominences and painful areas on the foot.  Although not their main purpose, accommodative orthoses can address abnormal foot function to some degree.  Accommodative orthoses are usually made from soft, shock absorbing materials including cork, foam, leather and rubber.  Problems that these orthoses address include, calluses, ulcers, bone spurs and other bony protrusions. They are also commonly used in extra depth shoes as insoles to prevent ulcers and infection in the diabetic foot.

Functional Orthoses

The purpose of a functional orthosis is to correct atypical function of the foot, ankle and lower extremity.  These abnormalities can be due to a congenital and developmental process, acquired structural changes throughout life or as the result of trauma.  Functional orthoses can be designed or modified to pad and offload painful areas of the foot as well.  These orthoses are typically made from a harder and more rigid material so as to control the motion of the foot, ankle and lower extremity.  However newer materials such as carbon fiber can be used to provide flexibility and support that is useful for athletic activities such as running.  Functional orthoses treat a wide variety of conditions including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and other types of tendinitis, arthritis, flat foot deformity, over-pronation, bunions, chronic ankle instability, malposition of knee or hip, limb length discrepancy and lower back pain.  These are typically used with good supportive athletic shoewear.

Foot Orthoses Therapeutic Footwear


Custom prescription foot orthoses, whether accommodative or functional, are a valuable and important component in the treatment and care of the foot, ankle and lower extremity. Depending on the problem and diagnosis, your podiatrist at Certified Foot and Ankle Specialists will design your orthoses to address your individual needs.

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