A three dimensional model of the patient’s feet needs to be made in order to make a prescription foot orthosis. This is done by either applying plaster to the patient’s foot, by having the patient step into a box of compressible foam.
The resultant three-dimensional model of the foot is then used along with a detailed orthosis prescription from the practitioner to have the orthoses made for the patient.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Prescription Foot Orthoses
The advantages of prescription foot orthoses are many.
They are custom made for each foot of each patient, so that each foot orthosis will only fit one foot correctly. Since they fit so exactly to the person’s foot, they can be made with relatively rigid, durable materials with a minimal chance of discomfort or irritation to the patient’s foot.
Prescription foot orthoses also have a much greater potential to effectively and permanently treat painful conditions, all the way from the toes to the lower back, since they are designed specifically for an individual’s biomechanical nature.
For example, in children, prescription foot orthoses are used to prevent abnormal development of the foot due to flatfoot or in toeing or out toeing disorders. In athletes, prescription foot orthoses are used to allow the athlete to continue training and competing without pain. And in most adults, prescription foot orthoses are used to allow more normal daily activities without pain or disability.
One disadvantage to prescription foot orthoses is that they are relatively expensive when compared to store bought over-the-counter foot inserts. Even though the over-the-counter inserts do help some people with mild symptoms, they do not have the potential to correct the wide range of symptoms that prescription foot orthoses can since they are made to fit a person with an “average” foot shape.
In this fashion, prescription foot orthoses may be considered to be similar to prescription eyeglasses. Over-the-counter eyeglasses may work for some people since they are made to correct for the average eye. However, over-the-counter eyeglasses will almost never work as well as prescription eyeglasses.