If you're dealing with foot and ankle pain, you've probably considered seeing a podiatrist. But what if your problem requires a specific solution? What if you need custom-made inserts or orthotics? In that case, you might want to see a pedorthist.
In this month's blog article, we'll talk with Certified Pedorthist Michael Fishkin with Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists. We'll discuss what pedorthists do, how they help their patients, and what sets them apart from other foot care providers.
What Does A Pedorthist Do?
A pedorthist is a foot care specialist who has been trained and certified in the design, manufacture, and fitting of orthopedic footwear and related devices. This includes custom-made shoes, shoe modifications, arch supports, and other foot orthotics.
Pedorthists use their knowledge of biomechanics, or the way the human body moves, to help people with foot or ankle problems. Typically, a pedorthist will work in tandem with a podiatrist to treat patients. Just like your primary care physician might send you to physical therapy after an injury, your podiatrist may send you to a pedorthist if your foot condition would benefit from orthotics.
What Are Orthotics?
As Michael explains it, 'Orthotics are a functional or accommodative, sometimes corrective, medical device that helps redistribute the weight of the foot.' He adds that this redistribution can help you keep a proper gait, prevent calluses, and relieve pain.
Though there are orthotic inserts you can buy prefabricated at your local drugstore, custom-made orthotics, like those made by Michael, are often more effective.
Custom orthotics are made to fit your specific foot. They take into account the way you walk, your weight, any foot pain you might have, and any other medical conditions that could be affecting your feet.
'Orthotics can help with anything from plantar fasciitis, to neuromas, to big toe joint pain,' Michael explains. 'These devices help stabilize the foot and prevent excess motion.'
How Can A Custom Orthotic Help My Plantar Fasciitis?
That's particularly essential for people with conditions like plantar fasciitis. This condition is caused by overuse and repetitive motion and affects the plantar fascia, which connects the heel bone to the toes. By redistributing your weight and absorbing some of the impact of your steps, orthotics can help you find relief from the severe pain of this condition, as well as many others.
What Other Ailments Can Be Helped by Custom Orthotics?
If you're struggling with pain from other ailments like neuromas, including Morton's neuroma, flat feet, high arches, bunions, or any other foot condition, a pedorthist may be able to help.
Imagine a patient who's come to Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists for help with a neuroma. A neuroma is a benign growth of nerve tissue, typically between the third and fourth toes, that can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in the foot. Michael says, 'I might make a metatarsal pad that sits right behind [the ball of the foot], and that basically helps restore what we call the transverse arch of the foot. That then opens up the space where that nerve innervates.'
At your first appointment, your pedorthist will conduct a thorough evaluation of your feet. This will likely include a visual examination, as well as an assessment of your range of motion, muscle strength, and gait.
Your pedorthist will also ask you questions about your medical history and the pain you're experiencing. It's important to be as honest and specific as possible, so your pedorthist can get a clear picture of what's going on. Based on this information, your pedorthist will decide if orthotics are right for you.
If they are, your pedorthist will take a mold of your foot, which will be used to create your custom orthotics. You'll usually need to come back for a fitting appointment, during which your pedorthist will make sure your orthotics fit well and make any necessary adjustments.
Once you have your orthotics, you'll need to wear them as directed by your pedorthist. This typically means wearing them all day, every day, for at least two weeks. After that, you may be able to transition to wearing them only during activities that cause pain.
If you're struggling with foot pain, the first step is to contact Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists and At your appointment, one of our experienced and podiatrists will conduct a thorough evaluation of your feet and determine what treatment options are right for you. If a custom orthotic is determined to be the right course of action, they’ll have Michael do an exam, take a cast of your foot and he’ll create the orthotic in our fabrication lab, located in our Crystal Lake office, which services all of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists’ many Chicagoland locations.
From foot and ankle injuries like an infected toenail to a broken ankle, to chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and pain from diabetes, our foot and ankle surgeons and other podiatric experts are here to help you feel better. We offer a wide range of foot and ankle services depending on your unique needs and when custom orthotics are in the cards, we make sure that we don’t finish the job until you’re happy with how you feel and the way you walk.