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What are Custom Inserts?

Custom inserts are specially designed and highly customized shoe inserts a doctor will prescribe to treat certain conditions of the foot. Also called “insoles or foot orthotics”, they are made specifically for you to wear inside your shoes to correct biomechanical problems of your foot or heel.

Custom inserts are recommended only if an off-the-shelf device or other conservative treatments such as exercises prove ineffective in resolving the foot or heel issues.

Significance of Custom Inserts

The feet are the foundation of the body. People with chronic foot problems may find it difficult to perform simple activities such as walking, standing, or running.

Custom inserts do two things:

  • Provide extra cushioning and support to the foot
  • Keep the feet and ankles in the best position during standing, walking, running, and other activities.

Indications for Custom Inserts

Custom inserts can help with foot pain or discomfort caused by medical conditions such as:

  • Diabetes / diabetic foot ulcers (open sore or wound)
  • Arthritis (inflammation of foot joints)
  • Bunions (swelling at the base of the big toe) 
  • Bursitis (inflammation in the heels and toes) 
  • Tendinitis (inflammation of foot tendon)
  • Flat feet (foot with a lower than usual arch)
  • High arch (foot arch raised more than normal)
  • Plantar fasciitis (heel pain due to ligament inflammation) 
  • Heel spurs(bony protrusion on the underside of the heel bone)
  • Overuse injuries
  • Foot deformities
  • Leg length discrepancy

Types of Custom Inserts

A prescription for a custom insert is done based on the conditions or symptoms of the foot that needs to be treated. Following, are the two types of custom inserts:

Rigid or functional insert: Made of a semi-rigid material such as plastic or graphite,

this type can ease:

  • Most foot aches and strains, tendinitis
  • Pain in the legs and lower back 
Soft or accommodative insert: Made from soft compression materials, it is flexible and provides additional cushioning and support to the foot and can treat:
  • Diabetic foot ulcers, plantar fasciitis
  • Painful calluses on the bottom of the foot
A custom insert can be a full shoe insert or a smaller heel insert that fits only into the back cup of the shoe.
Special custom inserts can also be designed for sporting activities. The doctor will discuss every possibility and prescribe the best custom insert for your foot problem. 

Creation of Custom Inserts

Before prescribing you a custom insert, the doctor will evaluate the biomechanics of your lower extremity (feet, ankles, and legs) thoroughly. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Physical examination of the lower extremity to look for symptoms, deformities and, areas that are especially painful
  • Walking and performing other activities to determine how the feet, ankles, and legs are positioned and move during certain exercises
  • Taking traditional (X-ray or MRI) or 3D images to determine the exact location and type of problem in the structure and function of the foot

Post evaluation and diagnosis, the doctor will make a precise mold of the foot to ensure the insert fits correctly. Once the mold is ready, a professional will create the custom insert (rigid or soft) that precisely matches the shape, posture, and contours of your foot. Your doctor will explain the proper use and care of the custom insert.

Benefits of Custom Inserts

A custom insert: 

  • Makes the foot or ankle function better
  • Helps reduce the risks of future injuries
  • Eases foot pain and improves foot posture
  • Helps avoid invasive treatments such as surgery