When Should I Have My Orthotics Replaced or Reassessed?
Posted by Jenn F. on Friday, March 11th, 2016
The best orthotics aren’t churned out of a vending machine: they’re custom-made to fit the curves and subtle nuances of your particular feet. They can be prescribed for issues like heel pain, arch pain, tendinitis, flat feet, high arches, limb length discrepancy, metatarsalgia, sesamoiditis, and arthritis. They must be worn at all times, but the benefit is that orthotics offer a non-invasive way to resolve many common foot-related aches and pains. If you’re a candidate for custom insoles, you may be wondering: will this one pair get me by, or will I have to get my orthotics replaced or refurbished over time?
Do Orthotics Alter the Feet?
While feet may naturally change size and shape slightly over time, studies have shown that orthotic use does not cause significant changes in the structure of the foot. Orthotics do, however, alter shank and foot muscle activation and gait patterns to reduce the load placed on your lower extremities — which is what makes them effective. That said, the fact that orthotics “take some of the load off” suggests that they may be prone to wear-and-tear over time.
Indicators That It’s Time to Have Orthotics Replaced or Repaired
Signs that it may be time to have your orthotics refurbished or replaced include:
- Uneven shoe wear
- Damage to the arches of your shoes
- Cracks, broken pieces or worn material on the orthotics themselves
- New calluses on your feet
- Arch pain or aching
- Aches along the inner ankle joint
- Heel pain
As orthotics manufacturer Comfort Stride points out, you should also meet with your podiatrist if you have undergone a significant life change recently — such as becoming pregnant, training for a marathon, or having knee surgery — which may have altered your biomechanics and your orthotic wear.
How Often Do Orthotics Need Refurbishing?
Generally speaking, we tell patients that a pair of durable, well-made orthotics should be evaluated and possibly refurbished every 4-5 years. Although, depending on how patients are using them, we’ve seen them wear out quicker and we’ve seen them last much longer. Some of the newer types of insoles are only guaranteed to last a year, but they generally cost less to buy as well. With children, we generally replace orthotics every one to two shoe sizes. The ultimate guide is that you pay attention to any changes in your feet, whether it be calluses or aches.
Are There Dangers in Not Replacing Orthotics?
Orthotics that do not fit properly will not maintain correct body alignment. Discomfort and pain are sure to follow. Patients with extremely worn-out shoe inserts often report pain in other areas of the body such as the ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hips, and back. They are more prone to injuries like sprains, strains, tendon ruptures, and stress fractures as well.
As Dr. Rock Positano DPM, foot and ankle specialist at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, points out, “Orthotics alter the way a person walks, stands, and absorbs shock from the ground. Anyone wishing to use them should have a good reason and be sure to consult a professional with the proper training and credentials, such as a podiatrist.”
Orthotics in NYC
If you have any questions about getting custom-fitted for orthotics in New York City or about the condition of your current orthotics, do not hesitate to contact the specialists at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC. Our board-certified podiatrists have been working with these medical devices for decades and can offer their expertise. Our state-of-the-art computerized gait analysis center reveals just how well your orthotics are working to off-load pressure or alter your biomechanics and affecting your entire body from the ground up.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.