What are orthotics?
Orthotic is the term used to describe an external support for some clinical use. Technically your shoe is an orthosis. The insoles that we wear are orthoses. Orthotics are available over the counter at the supermarket, drug store, or sporting goods store. It is important to understand that an orthosis is supposed to help support your body. To achieve this support one must be placed in the correct position and the orthosis must be moulded to the body in that position. Although it is true that there are common positional faults such as flat feet (pronated, collapsed arch) or high arch (supinated, rigid arch) it is all too often the case that the impairments one has are multi-factorial. A orthotist is a licensed professional who can fabricate a specially designed brace or insert to correct and facilitate a particular movement. A pedorthist is licensed as an orthotist for the foot only (Click here for more information on the differences between them)
I highly encourage my patients to ask the following questions at the orthotist visit;
- Where will my orthosis or brace be fabrication?
- What is your policy if the orthosis or brace does not fit correctly or if it hurts me?
- Do you have an off the shelf version that is less expensive?
These questions should protect you from having an orthotist take a mold of your body part and send it to a lab for off-site fabrication which often results in poor fit and poor satisfaction. I encourage my patients to only have work performed by a local professional so corrections can be made as needed by the person who shaped the orthosis and made the orthosis. An orthotists should assure you that he or she will work to make sure the fit is perfect and pain free (if possible) or a new unit will be made. Finally, there are commercial or stock units that can address your needs at a fraction of the cost of a custom brace and this option should be explored prior to a custom orthosis purchase.
Where should I go to have my orthosis made?
There are a number of great companies here in Houston, Texas and I have my favorites due to previous outstanding service and performance. Please contact me for a list of my preferred providers.
How will I know what I need?
Bellaire PT and Dr. Abraham Lieberman (that’s me) take special care to identify your physical therapy diagnosis which includes postural and biomechanical faults that can be corrected with orthotics. Poor posture can contribute to a number of problems and you can read more about that on the posture page.