Healthcare Technology Featured Article

December 22, 2020

How Orthotics May Help Alleviate Pain

It’s common for human beings to experience pain; regardless of how light your daily routine is, you’re bound to experience pain at some point in your life. While some types of pain usually go away on their own or after taking some painkillers, others can reoccur, taking a toll on a person’s life. In fact, body pain can adversely affect a person’s productivity, relationships, and behavior.

Fortunately, you no longer have to suffer due to painful conditions, such as arthritis, leg, or back pain, since there are now innovations in the medical industry that can alleviate these. If you’ve been suffering from the mentioned health conditions for quite some time, talk to your physician about orthotics and inquire if you can use one soon.

What Is Orthotics?

Simply defined, orthotics are special shoes or heel inserts that are custom-made specifically for you. Generally, your doctor will prescribe you to use orthotics as a part of a comprehensive treatment plant to address foot, leg, and back problems.

Contrary to popular belief, orthotics aren’t just a pair of shoes or heel pads that you can buy from any athletic store. Orthotics are created for patients to provide cushion and comfort, support the abnormal movement of their foot, and address other health concerns that are associated with the condition of your foot.

Aside from correcting foot deformities, orthotics can also relieve back and neck pain because it works by realigning how the foot articulates on the ground, affecting the body’s overall posture and gait.

Commonly Used Orthotics For Patients And How Does It Help Alleviate Pain

There are many types of orthotics available for use today. If you think using one can finally become your ticket to live a pain-free life, reach out to your physician and start asking for this treatment and what your options are.

To give you an idea on how orthotics work for different health concerns, below are some orthotics devices used for patients and how it helps alleviate pain caused by injuries or other body conditions: 

1. Knee Braces

When you have knee pain, an aching knee, or a bone spurs injury, you may want to take some time to investigate the different types of knee braces on the market.

An effective knee brace will keep your knees from sliding forward or backward. When the knees are properly aligned, you're less likely to suffer a sprain or tear in your knee. In addition to preventing damage, the braces also support the knee joint by keeping it from bending, flexing, or any movement that may cause any injury.

There are four types of knee braces, each of which has different functions:

  • Prophylactic: If you want to protect your knee from injuries as you’re fond of playing high-contact sports, such as football, a prophylactic knee brace will work best for you.
  • Functional: For individuals who are suffering from an injury and are now working towards recovery, functional knee braces may help. This type of knee brace works by stabilizing the knee and better control motion to prevent another injury.
  • Rehabilitative: As the name suggests, rehabilitative knee braces are often part of a patient’s therapy to restore the condition of their legs from injuries. This type of knee braces provides limited and slow motion so the patient can gradually regain their range of motion.
  • Unloader or Offloader: An unloader or offloader knee brace is essential for individuals suffering from arthritis since this can reduce the pressure on the key areas of the body, alleviating pain and discomfort caused by the health problem.

2. Full Support Shoes

The purpose of these orthotics is to provide complete support to the foot and ankle, reducing the risk of injury that may occur on both body parts. These orthotics work by applying pressure through the shoes' soles, preventing the foot and ankle from slipping.

The most common types of orthotics used for full support shoes include orthotic inserts, splints, and traction devices. These orthotics are particularly useful for those who experienced foot and ankle injuries or deformities due to overuse, stress, or arthritis. They may also hasten the recovery of patients who experience foot pain.

3. Heel Pads

This orthotic is used as a treatment for overpronation, which is the condition wherein the foot rolls inward towards the middle when standing. The treatment is especially helpful for people who tend to walk with their feet pointed ahead of their body.

Heel pads are generally used in conjunction with the full support shoe and worn for a specific period every day. To maintain proper alignment and keep the feet healthy and secure, the heel pads should be replaced every four to six weeks.

4. Traction Shoes

Traction shoes are used to treat conditions that cause pain or swelling of the foot, including bunions, hammertoes, corns, and calluses.

While wearing this type of orthotics, the pressure is applied by a traction plate to the affected area. This pressure is then transferred to the tissue under the foot, giving the patient a feeling of relief.

5. Traction Ankle Support

This orthotic is similar to the traction shoe but it’s worn inside the ankle. This orthotic reduces pain and swelling associated with the ankle by reducing the ankle support's pressure. In this orthotic, a strap is wrapped around the ankle and attached to a power unit, which then applies an outward compression to the ankle, making it feel like you’re wearing boots.

Wearing traction ankle support can provide many benefits like preventing your ankle from swelling by eliminating pressure on the ankle and foot. This can prevent further damage to the ankles and relieves pain in the long run. Moreover, wearing traction ankle support can also help you regain your range of motion, provide support as you’re returning to your usual activities, and prevent reoccurring injuries in your ankles.

A 3-Point Guide To Orthotics

Following your doctor’s orders and wearing orthotics may relieve you from recurring pain and, eventually, improve the quality of your life. However, keep in mind that incorporating these devices into your daily routine will require adjustments. If you’re going to wear knee braces, for example, expect that you’ll have to make adjustments to your daily routine as this device can be uncomfortable.

Once your doctor recommends you to wear a certain type of orthotics, take note of the tips mentioned below so you can easily adapt:

6. Break-in Period Wearing Instruction

Your body will require at least two weeks to get used to wearing or using orthotic devices. This is usually the hardest part when using orthotic devices because, for one, you’ll have to limit your movements to ensure that you’re not injuring yourself or damaging the device.

During this phase, you can follow these tips:

  • Start by wearing the orthotic device 2-3x every day.
  • On your first day, wear the device for thirty minutes.
  • As you progress, extending your wearing time each day by at least 15 minutes until you can comfortably wear the device for the entire day.
  • If you notice that your feet start to swell or sore as you’re wearing the orthotic device, remove the device and let your feet rest for a couple of minutes. This is normal during the break-in period.
  • If your feet continue to feel sore after three weeks of wearing the orthotic device, schedule an appointment with your doctor as the device might need some adjustments.

7. Use And Care Of Orthotics
For you to see results, you’ll have to wear orthotic devices for long periods. With proper care, your orthotic device should be able to last for about one to four years. These devices can even last longer, depending on your daily activities and body weight.

To ensure that your orthotic device lasts for the longest time possible, follow these tips:

  • Never put any of your orthotic devices in the dryer or washing machine. If you need to clean them, use a damp cloth soaked in mild dish detergent. Then, rinse using cool water.
  • Never leave your orthotics inside a hot vehicle as the heat might cause damage to its materials.
  • In case your orthotic gets wet, remove them from your boots and shoes, wipe them down, and allow them to air dry. Make sure that the device is completely dry before putting it on again.

8. Footwear Selection

Buying a pair of shoes can be fun but when your doctor already recommended you to wear orthotics, it’s essential that you consider the device before choosing a pair. Ideally, you should bring your orthotic device with you whenever you buy a new pair of shoes.

When buying a pair of shoes, consider the following:

  • Only choose shoes or boots that come with removable insoles or footbeds.
  • Take the removable insoles from the shoes and replace them with your orthotics.
  • Lace up the shoes or boots and assess if the orthotics fit. More often than not, orthotic devices will require more room than the original insoles of the footwear, so make sure to choose a pair that has a wider toe box.

Final Thoughts

If you have bone spurs or any other foot problem, your doctor may prescribe orthotics specifically designed for that specific problem. They can even give you recommendations on what orthotic device to use if you want to prevent injuries or heal from injuries faster.

The use of orthotic inserts or devices is considered a natural alternative to medications and surgeries. When you continue to use these, you no longer have to suffer from the side effects of medications and surgeries just to relieve yourself from pain caused by your foot. You just have to make sure that you regularly use these devices for you to finally live a pain-free life.

Andres Mahoney

Andres Mahoney is a successful writer who regularly publishes business-related content on his blog. Andres has been fascinated with business as he plans to start his one soon, which is why he has devoted his time in learning more about the industry.

Aside from updating his blog, Andres also submits guest posts to business websites as an attempt to educate more readers. 

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