Although they are most commonly associated with foot problems, “orthotics” is an umbrella term for a wide range of types of equipment that can be used to support rehabilitation from an injury or to prevent injury from occurring in the first place. So, what are the options, and how do you use them?

Types of orthotics

There are a broad variety of orthotics, and they can range from something as simple as an insole in a shoe to protect the foot, to more complex equipment like a back brace to stabilise the spine.

Orthotics are generally used in one of the following areas:

  • Feet
  • Lower limbs
  • Upper limbs
  • Trunk

Orthotics can either be “off-the-shelf” standard items that are ready made and adjusted for the patient’s particular size – or custom-made, particularly in cases of more complex injuries or changes to multiple joint structures.

Reasons to use orthotics

There are a few reasons that your physiotherapist might recommend the use of orthotics. Generally speaking, orthotics are designed to either stabilise a body part, or assist that body part in movement. For example, if a joint is not in a functional position, then orthotics may be used to help it to function better, recover and to prevent further injury during the recovery process.

Some conditions that might require orthotics include:

  • Back pain – if this is caused by foot or leg problems that are causing uneven gait, then orthotics might help you to walk more evenly and reduce the pressure on your back
  • Arthritis – orthotics can help with positioning of the joints to relieve discomfort
  • Bursitis – when the fluid-filled sacs in the heels and toes become inflamed, they cause a great deal of discomfort which orthotics can help to reduce
  • Ankle sprain – an orthotic might provide support to prevent further injury while you recover and to allow you greater movement

 Common mistakes with orthotics

Orthotics can be incredibly valuable tools in your recovery, but only if they’re used correctly. There are a few key mistakes that people regularly make, so we want to help you avoid them!

  • You need to wear them in gradually

It will probably take two to three weeks to get completely used to wearing your

orthotics and, except in serious cases or unless your physiotherapist tells you

differently, you will need to gradually build up the amount of time you wear them

each day rather than wearing them full-time from the offset.

  • You must follow your physiotherapist’s instructions

We know it can be a hassle to have to put that wrist support on every time you

play sport, but it really is important. You need to wear the orthotics in the right

way, at the right time, for the right amount of time, or they may not work as effectively as they could. Your physiotherapist has given you those instructions for a reason, so it would be advised to follow them as best as possible.

  • Don’t give up on them as soon as you’re feeling better

Because it can be a hassle to keep putting them on, or because people don’t think they look particularly attractive, or because they might not be incredibly comfortable, many people are keen to ditch their orthotics as soon as possible. But just because the pain has subsided doesn’t mean the problem’s gone away. If you give up on them too soon, the problem might come back or get worse. So don’t put them away until your physiotherapist gives you the go-ahead.

When you’re experiencing pain, we’re happy to talk you through all the different treatment options available, including what types of orthotics might work for you alongside our hands-on and movement / exercise-based treatments (but only if needed of course!). Give us a call on 9838 3030 or email and we can discuss your choices.