Check professionals’ licenses and get the podiatry care that’s right for you
Foot and leg pain can be debilitating, but orthotics may make a difference, according to the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) Podiatric Medical Board of California (PMBC).
HOW CAN ORTHOTICS HELP?
Orthotics are custom-made shoe inserts prescribed by a licensed doctor of podiatric medicine, an osteopathic doctor, or a medical doctor after a medical examination and diagnosis. Designed to accommodate or correct an abnormal or irregular walking pattern, these inserts make standing, walking, and running more comfortable and efficient by altering the angles at which the foot strikes the ground.
Orthotics might help you if:
- One side of the sole of your shoe wears out faster than the other.
- You frequently sprain your ankle.
- You have chronic heel, knee, or lower back pain.
- Your toes are not straight.
- Your feet point inward or excessively outward when you walk.
In addition to reducing foot pain, orthotics can make a difference when it comes to leg discomfort: Strains, aches, and pains in the legs, thighs, and lower back may be due to abnormal foot mechanics or slight differences in the length of the legs, which inserts may help address.
But all orthotics are not created equal, notes PMBC. While mass-produced arch supports and shoe inserts made for standard shoe sizes are generally affordable and may be helpful, they aren’t suitable for everyone. In fact, improper orthotics can injure healthy biomechanics, gait, and posture. What’s more, for people with diabetes, arthritis, or other conditions, orthotics that don’t fit properly can be flat-out dangerous: People with diabetes especially need proper diagnoses and orthotic prescriptions from a licensed doctor.
PMBC also warns consumers not to fall for expensive “custom-made” shoe inserts sold at traveling shows or health fairs, by mail order, or online, and reminds consumers to be wary of shoe inserts marketed for medical purposes by unlicensed people.
Properly prescribed orthotics aren’t cheap, but they are very effective and long-lasting. If you are experiencing foot or leg pain, be sure to contact a professional licensed by PMBC, the Medical Board of California, or the Osteopathic Medical Board of California who can discuss your concerns and prescribe orthotics made especially to address your unique foot and leg issues. Check a professional’s license online at https://search.dca.ca.gov or by calling DCA’s Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.