Doctors may prescribe orthotics to treat a number of medical conditions. Examples include:
- Arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can cause discomfort in the feet and poor positioning that orthotics may help to correct.
- Back pain. Sometimes poor positioning of the feet, such as arches that roll inward, or lack of cushioning can cause pain that orthotics can lessen.
- Bunions. Bunions are painful bumps that can develop at the base of the big toe and cause foot deformities. Orthotics with a wide toe box can help to reduce pressure on the big toe.
- Bursitis. Inflammation of fluid-filled sacs in the heels and toes can cause bursitis pain and discomfort. Orthotics with heel and arch support can help to reduce bursitis discomfort.
- Diabetes. Sometimes, a person with diabetes can lose sensation in their feet, a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. When this occurs, orthotics can help to reduce excess stress and pressure that can lead to foot ulcers.
- Flat feet. Flat feet can cause foot, ankle, and back pain. Orthotics can help to support the feet and promote proper foot positioning.
- Hammer toes. Hammer toes often occur as a side effect of bunions on the big toe. They cause second-toe pain and deformities on the ball of the foot. Orthotics can provide additional support to the feet and reduce the likelihood that hammer toes will worsen.
- Heel spurs. Heel spurs are conditions where excess bone grows on the back or bottom of the heel. Orthotics can support the foot and reduce inflammation.
- High arches. Very high arches can stress muscles in the feet and lead to a number of conditions, such as shin splints, knee pain, and plantar fasciitis. Orthotics can help prevent a person’s feet from rolling excessively inward or outward.
- Injuries. People who’ve experienced trauma to their feet and ankles may require extra support during the healing process with orthotics.
- Plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain. Doctors may sometimes recommend orthotics to support the heel and foot.
Doctors may also prescribe custom orthotics for people who have positional concerns with their feet or legs. This can include those with underdeveloped leg and foot muscles.