Expert Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, and Orthotics Services for Optimal Health

Custom Orthotics: Relieving Pain & Addressing Causes


Posted by Dr. Scott Wilson | 15-Aug-2023

If you’re dealing with chronic foot pain, discomfort, or specific conditions affecting your back and lower limbs, custom orthotics may be the solution. Custom orthotics are personalized shoe inserts designed to provide support, stability, and relief to your feet, ankles, lower limbs and lower back. These custom designed medical devices can address a range of conditions, alleviating symptoms and even targeting underlying causes. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the various conditions that can be addressed by custom orthotics and the benefits they provide. We’ll also take a look at what’s involved in getting your orthotics and along with some considerations related to their longer-term benefits and maintenance.

Understanding Custom Orthotics:

Custom orthotics, also known as orthotic insoles or inserts, are custom made medical devices prescribed by a healthcare professional and designed to help relieve pain, improve balance and stability, and correct deformities. Made from various materials such as foam, rubber, or plastic, and unlike over-the-counter shoe inserts, custom orthotics are tailored to fit the unique structure of your feet. It’s this tailoring that allows them to provide precise support, correction and comfort.

There are different types of orthotics available. Each is designed to address specific foot conditions and alignment issues. Some of the more common types include:

  • Functional Orthotics: designed to control abnormal motion and support proper foot mechanics.
  • Accommodative Orthotics: intended to provide cushioning and support for specific pressure points or sensitive areas.
  • Sports Orthotics: tailored to enhance performance and reduce the risk of sports-related injuries.
  • Pediatric Orthotics: developed to support and correct foot development issues in children.

Conditions Addressed by Custom Orthotics:

Custom orthotics can address a range of foot and lower body conditions. They provide arch support, distribute pressure, and correct alignment. They also help relieve pressure on affected nerves, reducing discomfort and the risk of further damage.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a common condition characterized by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. Custom orthotics can provide arch support, distribute pressure more evenly, and reduce strain on the plantar fascia, which eases pain and promotes healing.

Flat Feet (Pes Planus)

Flat feet occur when the arches of your feet collapse, leading to improper weight distribution and alignment. Custom orthotics provides arch support, which improves your foot mechanics and reduces the discomfort associated with flat feet.

High Arches (Pes Cavus)

High arches can lead to increased pressure on certain areas of your feet, causing pain and instability. Custom orthotics that are designed to cushion and support your arches can alleviate discomfort and improve overall foot function.

Overpronation and Supination

Overpronation (inward rolling of the foot) and supination (outward rolling of the foot) can disrupt your normal gait pattern and lead to various foot problems. Custom orthotics help by providing corrective support to promote proper alignment and reduce excessive pronation or supination.

Bunions and Hammertoes

Bunions and hammertoes are deformities that can cause pain and discomfort in your toes. Custom orthotics help by alleviating pressure on affected areas and improving toe alignment, which reduces pain and prevents further progression of the deformities.

Shin Splints

Shin splints are characterized by pain along your shin bone (tibia) and are often caused by overuse or improper foot mechanics. Custom orthotics can help correct the biomechanical issues, which reduces stress on your shins and provides relief.

Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition that involves a thickening of the nerve tissue between your toes. Custom orthotics can reduce pressure on the affected area, which alleviates pain and discomfort.

Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain has a variety of causes including poor foot mechanics and improper alignment, which can lead to imbalances and strain on the muscles and structures of your lower back. Orthotics promote proper alignment of your feet and support your arches which reduces strain on your lower back muscles and provides relief from pain and discomfort.

Addressing Symptoms with Custom Orthotics:

Custom orthotics are designed to address specific symptoms associated with various foot and lower limb conditions:

Reducing Pain

Orthotics are engineered to distribute pressure more evenly across your feet, alleviating pressure points and reducing localized pain. By supporting your arches and providing cushioning, orthotics help reduce discomfort and soreness in your feet and ankles.

Improving Stability and Balance

By promoting proper foot alignment and supporting your arches, orthotics can improve your overall stability and balance. This can be especially beneficial if you have flat feet, high arches, or gait abnormalities.

Enhancing Shock Absorption

Orthotics with shock-absorbing materials can reduce the impact on your feet while walking, running, or performing other weight-bearing activities. This can be advantageous for athletes or individuals with conditions like shin splints or arthritis.

Relieving Pressure

Custom orthotics can be designed to offload pressure from specific areas, such as bunions, hammertoes, or other foot deformities. By reducing pressure on sensitive spots, they minimize discomfort and prevent further aggravation of your condition.

Reducing Muscle Fatigue

Custom orthotics helps to reduce muscle fatigue and strain by providing proper foot support. This is particularly beneficial if you spend long hours on your feet or engage in activities that put significant stress on your lower limbs.

Addressing Underlying Causes with Custom Orthotics:

Custom orthotics not only alleviate symptoms, they also target underlying causes of foot and lower body conditions which can lead to injuries or degradation. Here’s how they address the root of the problem:

Correcting Biomechanical Abnormalities

Many foot conditions are caused or exacerbated by biomechanical issues, such as overpronation or supination. Custom orthotics can be designed to correct these abnormalities, promoting proper foot alignment and gait.

Improving Foot Function

By providing specifically tailored support, custom orthotics helps your feet to function optimally. They help muscles, tendons, and ligaments work more efficiently, reducing strain and promoting better foot mechanics.

Preventing Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries, such as plantar fasciitis and shin splints, often result from repetitive stress on your feet. Because orthotics help distribute forces evenly, they reduce your risk of overloading specific structures and prevent overuse injuries.

Supporting Post-Injury Rehabilitation

Custom orthotics can help with the rehabilitation process following a foot or lower body injury. They provide support to the injured area, which allows for proper healing and the prevention of re-injury during recovery.

Enhancing Athletic Performance

Custom orthotics can enhance athletic performance by optimizing foot alignment, providing shock absorption, and reducing fatigue. In addition to improving overall athletic performance though improved foot function, orthotics can also reduce your risk of injury.

Diagnostics and Fitting for Custom Orthotics:

To get the most from your custom orthotics, you should go through a full diagnostic, fitting, follow-up and re-evaluation process with a qualified healthcare professional. This typically involves the following steps:

  • Assessment & Diagnosis: This includes a review of your medical history, your condition or symptoms, and your gait (walking or running pattern) and foot mechanics. It may also include a physical examination to identify any related areas of concern.
  • Customization: Based on your assessment and gait analysis, your healthcare professional will have your orthotics created according to the unique structure and condition of your feet using advanced technology and precise measurements to ensure a perfect fit and optimal support.
  • Fitting & Adjustment: Once your orthotics have been fabricated, you’ll then have a fitting session. During this session, your healthcare professional will identify any necessary adjustments to ensure that your orthotics fit comfortably inside your footwear and provide the best fit and alignment.
  • Follow-Up, Monitoring & Re-Evaluation: Even after receiving your orthotics, it’s important to have follow-up appointments. During these appointments, your healthcare professional can make additional adjustments as needed to optimize your orthotics’ effectiveness. Over time, because your foot condition or needs may change, and because your orthotics will experience wear and tear, it’s also important to have periodic re-evaluations. This ensures that your orthotics continue to provide the fit and support you need.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Custom Orthotics:

Are There Any Risks or Side Effects to Using Custom Orthotics?

Custom orthotics are safe to use. While some users may experience minor discomfort during the initial adjustment period, taking the time to go through the fitting process will identify any necessary adjustments and ensure that your orthotics fit comfortably and provide the best fit and alignment.

What is the Expected Time Frame for Pain Relief?

The expected time frame for pain relief with custom orthotics varies from person to person. It may take a few days or up to several weeks for your body to adjust to your new orthotics. Consistent use can also provide long-term pain relief and improved mobility. For a timeline for expected pain relief based on your specific condition, you should speak to your healthcare provider.

Can Physical Therapy and Exercise Complement the Use of Custom Orthotics?

Physical therapy and exercise can help enhance the benefits of custom orthotics. They can identify muscle imbalances, improve strength, flexibility, and balance, and provide a comprehensive approach to addressing pain and underlying causes.


Custom orthotics offer a personalized and effective solution for addressing various foot and lower body conditions. By targeting both symptoms and underlying causes, they can significantly improve your foot function, reduce discomfort, and enhance your overall well-being. The process of obtaining custom orthotics involves a thorough assessment, customization, and fitting to ensure the best possible fit and support. Of course, regular use and proper maintenance are key to maximizing their long-term benefits.

If you’re struggling with pain in your feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, and even your shoulders, we can help. Contact us today and let us show you why, at Physiomed…Healthier Starts Here.

Dr. Scott Wilson

Dr. Scott Wilson is the Founder & Chairman of Physiomed; one of Canada’s largest franchised networks of inter-disciplinary healthcare clinics. A graduate of Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Dr. Wilson founded Physiomed in 1994 and has since grown Physiomed to over 30 clinics in Southern Ontario and British Columbia. With hundreds of practitioners from over a dozen disciplines, Dr. Wilson and Physiomed have helped over 100,000 Canadians with physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, orthotic therapy, compression therapy and clinical conditioning as part of a program of rehabilitation and health optimization. In addition to helping patients improve their physical and mental well-being, Dr. Wilson has also mentored hundreds of practitioners to provide better care while enjoying more fulfilling careers. He is also a keynote speaker on many health related topics including how physiotherapy, chiropractic and health & wellness treatment can help with stress, weight loss, and unlocking the true potential within to achieve lasting physical well-being.

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