There are many reasons for foot pain. Some people have to stand most of the day for work, while others experience foot pain from uncomfortable shoes. Runners or other athletes may develop foot pain related to their sport. Conditions like arthritis, tendonitis, heel issues, toe problems, and more may be aggravated by wearing unsupportive or improperly sized shoes. Yet many people have never considered the effect their shoes can have on their quality of life.
If you have Medicare, you may be eligible to get one new pair of shoes and three inserts covered each year, but your doctor will need to write you a prescription so you can receive this benefit. We can also recommend a local shoe store – the Beck’s Shoes (please call ahead for an appointment), Salt lake Running Company, and Foot Solutions/Ace Orthotics are all excellent choices.
In cases where your shoes generally fit well but don’t necessarily give you enough support, particularly in areas where you have pain, it may not be necessary to replace your current shoes. Instead, we will create a custom orthotic for your needs. You’ll remove the old insole and place the custom shoe insert into the shoe, then try it out to see how it feels.
Unfortunately, most private insurance companies don’t cover custom orthotics. However, many people find the $350 cost for a set of custom shoe inserts worthwhile when considering other costs associated with foot pain – such as buying different premade inserts in the hopes that one will solve the problem, over-the-counter pain relievers, visiting a podiatrist for other treatments, struggling to concentrate on work because your feet hurt, etc.
When you have molds made, we require full payment. As a courtesy, my office will submit a bill to your insurance company. If they pay any of the charges my office will reimburse you. The rest is paid when you come in to pick up the permanent shoe inserts a few weeks later.
Orthotics are shoe inserts designed to relieve pressure in specific areas and provide better support when you wear shoes. You may have seen racks of these shoe inserts at your local shoe store, but it’s important to understand that these mass-produced orthotics are made for a broad audience, not you specifically. Even when they’re accompanied by a machine that’s designed to scan your feet and recommend “the right insert for your feet,” it will only recommend the closest match from the available inserts. For many people, these orthotics aren’t ideal for their feet and situation.
Custom orthotics are created especially for you by an experienced podiatrist. The doctor will also take molds of your feet, but instead of having an algorithm recommend a pre-made insert, they will design a mold based on your exact foot shape and issues. Although these inserts are a bit more expensive than the kind you would buy in a store, they will provide better support and pain relief, and typically last for about five years.
It depends on what kind of shoes you currently have and how well they fit. At your orthotics consultation, your podiatrist will ask about the shoes you have on currently, as well as what other types of shoes you wear frequently. Although shoe inserts can offer additional support and reduce pressure on specific areas of the foot, they won’t solve every shoe problem.
One common issue we see is patients wearing shoes that are too narrow, too small, or that squeeze the toes together uncomfortably. An orthotic can’t create more space for your feet inside a shoe, so if we determine that your shoes are too tight or narrow, we will advise you to invest in a better-fitting pair.
Aside from being a poor fit for most people, store-bought orthotics don’t work in all shoes. They may not be ideal for running shoes or the kind of footwear you need to wear to work. Additionally, one-size-fits-some inserts are often made from inexpensive materials and might not last long, even if they do provide some relief. Finally, they often give the wearer a little extra support, but not enough to fully address the patient’s pain or difficulties. For all these reasons, we encourage people with foot pain to seek a consultation with a qualified podiatrist to learn whether custom orthotics would be right for them.
We see many people with conditions like bunions, hammertoe, neuromas, and other issues related to shoes that are too tight or narrow. Once we identify the problem, the first step of treatment is replacing the ill-fitting shoes with an ideally-sized pair. If needed, we may also create orthotics for additional support. Other treatment options include ice, padding, medication, and in a few cases where the other efforts don’t provide enough relief, surgery.
When shoes fail to provide enough support in the right places, patients may have arch pain, heel pain, or even tendonitis. In these situations, custom shoe inserts can help relieve pain by more evenly distributing pressure on the feet. Some patients might also benefit from medication, ice, physical therapy, or a foot and ankle conditioning program. The podiatrist will consider all your needs and include other treatments in a comprehensive plan to address your pain.
The first step is to contact a foot and ankle specialist for a consultation. The podiatrist will examine your feet and may take a look at the shoes you’re wearing. They will also ask about your activity level and the different kinds of shoes you wear regularly as this will help to ensure they understand your needs. For instance, if you run every day, your doctor may suggest a pair of orthotics to fit your running shoes so the areas of your feet that absorb the most impact will be cushioned. Or, if you have a job where you stand on your feet all day, you might need more support in certain areas of your shoes. If new shoes are in order, your foot and ankle specialist will refer you to a local store that can help you find a shoe in the ideal fit.
Finally, the doctor will make molds of your feet with which to create your custom orthotics. This process only takes a few minutes and should not be painful or uncomfortable. You’ll sit down and the doctor will place one foot at a time in a foam box. The doctor is fully aware of the proper foot placement. These molds will then be sent to a lab that creates your custom orthotics based on the doctor’s specifications for your condition. In the meantime, the doctor may make a temporary orthotic for you to wear. These don’t last as long as the permanent orthotics, but they do offer relief while you wait for the permanent ones.
After a few weeks, you’ll return to your doctor’s office to try out your new shoe inserts. The doctor will probably ask you to try placing them in your shoes and walk around the office for a few minutes to see if they fit. You should be honest about how they feel – if there is a problem, the doctor can make adjustments. In some cases, they may suggest that you try walking on the inserts for a day or two first, to see if you get used to the feeling. If the orthotics are still uncomfortable, the podiatrist will make alterations as needed. Making you comfortable on your feet is always our top priority.
Dr. Elizabeth Auger is board certified in podiatric medicine by the American Board of Lower Extremity Surgery. Since completing her medical residency and beginning practice in Sandy, she has spent more than 24 years helping patients with a wide range of foot and ankle difficulties, many of which stem from poorly fitting or unsupportive shoes. As an athletic person who enjoys hiking and trail running in the Wasatch Mountains, Dr. Auger also understands the needs of active people with foot and ankle issues. She can create high-quality custom orthotics specific to your needs, as well as advise you on finding better-fitting shoes if necessary.
Please call our office to schedule an evaluation of your foot pain. Dr. Auger will examine your feet and run tests as needed to diagnose the cause of your issues, then create a treatment plan. If custom orthotics are needed, she can create the molds in the same appointment and make you a temporary insert to get started on reducing your pain.
Our friendly staff is always available to answer your questions or book an appointment, so please call today. In many cases, we can even get you in for a same-day appointment!