Can Custom Orthotics Ease Your Foot Pain?

If your feet are constantly aching, you may be wondering if store-bought nonprescription inserts can help. In some cases, it might, but depending on your particular problem, you might need orthotics instead. Today, our podiatrist, Dr. Hubert Lee of CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists is sharing what you need to know to make a decision.

The inserts purchased in stores without a prescription can offer some support. They are typically constructed of materials such as plastic, foam or gel and are designed to fit inside shoes, but they are not custom-made. In addition, while inserts might make your shoes feel more comfortable, they are not intended to correct foot problems.

How Are Orthotics Different?

Custom orthotics are prescription devices that are worn inside shoes to correct foot problems. They can also ease foot pain caused by medical issues such as arthritis, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, and diabetes and flat feet.

During an appointment, your podiatrist will take 3-dimensional pictures of each foot and conduct a comprehensive exam. If you do need orthotics, your podiatrist will capture the structure of your feet using plaster casts to achieve a perfect fit. When ready, they turn into rigid or soft orthotics.

Types of Orthotics

Rigid orthotics are constructed from materials like carbon fiber or plastic and are best for dress shoes that have a closed toe and low heel or walking shoes. They are specifically designed to relieve aching feet and soreness in the legs, thighs, and lower back.

Soft orthotics are made from soft compression materials and provides support to take pressure off painful spots from conditions such as plantar fasciitis or diabetic-related foot problems. There are also special orthotics specifically designed for sporting equipment such as ice skates and ski boots.

While orthotics cost more than inserts, keep in mind that you’re also getting a medical assessment of any foot problems, a customized fit, and high-quality materials that will last for several years (with proper care). In addition, since orthotics are prescription medical devices, your insurance company might help cover the cost.

Not every patient will need custom orthotics – in some cases; a proper, supportive shoe may be all that is required to relieve or prevent pain.  Based on your diagnosis by Dr. Hubert Lee of CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists, a custom orthotic may be an excellent treatment for what is ailing your feet.  Call our office today at

(425) 455-0936 or schedule an appointment online.

Pregnancy and Orthotics

Pregnancy and OrthoticsA common complaint of pregnant women is foot pain.  This pain often affects the front portion of the foot.  A study investigated changes in pressure that pregnant women experience to their feet during walking.  Pressure areas were measured during the last month of each trimester.  The results showed an increase in pressure that shifted from the heels to the middle and front portions of the feet throughout pregnancy.

This study helps explain the increased complaints of foot pain during pregnancy.  It is important to address these changes to prevent painful overuse injuries such as stress fractures and plantar fasciitis (heel or arch pain).  You can help minimize the risk of foot pain by wearing comfortable, supportive shoes.  You can also consider wearing a custom orthotic.  Custom orthotics are devices that are worn inside of your shoes.  They are custom made from a mold of your feet.  The orthotics help prevent or reduce foot pain by balancing the forward shift in weight and pressure during pregnancy.


Ribeiro AP, Trombini-Souza F, de Camargo Neves Sacco I, et al. Changes in the plantar pressure distribution during gait throughout gestation. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 101(5):415-423, 2011.