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HealthInfo Canterbury

Foot & ankle orthotics

An orthotic shaped to suit a woman's footOrthotics are devices made to support your body and the way it moves. The most common type of orthotic is one for your feet.

Foot orthotics (sometimes also called foot orthoses) are shoe inserts that support your foot and reduce foot, leg, and other pains and conditions related to your bones and joints.

An orthotic is designed to guide your foot so it works in a precise way, which helps your muscles and tendons to work more efficiently. It provides the support, stability, cushioning, and alignment necessary to keep your feet, ankles, and lower body comfortable, healthy, and pain-free.

Orthotics come in many shapes and forms. There are different types of orthotics for different activities, shoes, and foot problems.

The three main types of orthotics are rigid, soft, and semi-rigid.

Who should wear orthotics?

Many people can benefit from orthotics. They can treat many common foot problems that cause pain and discomfort in otherwise healthy people. Orthotics can help if you have:

Who can help with orthotics?

A podiatrist can assess the way your feet and legs work to see if orthotics will help to improve your problem. They can also recommend the most appropriate orthotic to help you, and then modify it to meet your specific needs. This is more likely to ease your pain and effectively treat your problem than an over-the-counter one you buy at a pharmacy or other retail store. If you have tried an over-the-counter orthotic for a week and your pain isn't getting better, it's best to see a podiatrist.

Your podiatrist will tailor a personal treatment plan to your needs. If they recommend an orthotic, this could cost as little as $75 or as much as $500. Read our page on podiatrists to find out more about what they can treat and the costs involved.

If your problem is severe, you may need customised shoes or other specialised splints for your feet and legs, as well as specialised foot orthotics. For this you will need your GP to refer you to see another health professional called an orthotist.

You can find a podiatrist by searching on Podiatry NZ's website.

Written by Podiatry NZ. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created July 2016.

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