An orthotic arch support is a device used to help align the foot properly in the shoe and alleviate pain. The orthotic arch support has a shape or forms that, when seated properly in the shoe, should take pressure off of certain areas of the foot which cause pain. The orthotic insoles lessen the impact or stress on troubled areas when walking, running, or standing. For example, a person with flat feet may have trouble walking, running, or standing for long periods of time because the arch is stretched. In this case, orthotics may help eliminate pain, lifting the arch appropriately, and realigning the foot slightly inside the shoe.
After certain surgeries, like knee surgery, a prescription for an orthotic arch support may be written to aide with recovery and physical therapy. The orthotic arch support is more than an "arch support," but often is referred to as such, and can be associated with foam insoles, or other type of pre-made arch supports. Custom orthotics, designed by podiatrists or orthopedic doctors, are fashioned by making a foot cast from foam or plaster. The cast replicates the bottom and sides of the foot. An orthotic insole is made from the cast image, and contains a more durable material than what is usually found in the over-the-counter insoles.
Not all orthotic insoles are prescribed or custom-made by a foot specialist; however, the custom orthotic arch support is designed to deal with specific foot problems. The pre-made orthotic insole can offer many of the same benefits, but if problems exist with the foot, such as recurrent bunions or corns, the ready made orthotic may not be as helpful as the custom support. Ready-made orthotics can be purchased online, off the shelf at a pharmacy, shoe store, or the pharmacy department of a retail store.
When buying shoes and using an orthotic arch support, it is important to ensure proper fit, allowing room for the orthotic insole. Special orthotic shoes can be purchased and may be wider or larger, so that the orthotic arch support can be placed and worn properly. It is important to bring along the appropriate foot covering, normally worn, when shopping for orthotic shoes. Certain socks or hosieries can make a difference in the fit of a shoe with an orthotic insole. When an orthotic arch support is properly placed and the accompanying shoe fits well, the wearer is more likely to receive the maximum benefit from the orthotic insole.