Foot orthoses are devices that are worn in shoes either to change the way the foot works whilst walking or to provide cushioning or support. They are also used to address pains outside of the foot, such as ankle, knee, hip and back pain. The word ‘orthoses’ is the plural of orthotic and, therefore, as foot orthoses are usually provided in pairs, orthoses is the generally accepted term used by most Podiatrists, however, arch supports, orthotics, insoles and orthotic inserts all refer to the same principle of something that is put into shoes to change movement, cushion the foot or help with pain.
We do not prescribe foot orthoses for all of our patients. Orthoses are very effective when prescribed correctly and for an appropriate condition, but they are not appropriate for everyone and can cause more problems if prescribed when they shouldn’t have been. Functional foot orthoses (orthoses that have a ‘prescription’ ie have been designed to change function) work in a similar way to glasses in that, when worn, they change load or forces to target pain and movement patterns, but they do not change the structure of your foot in exactly the same way as glasses do not change the structure of your eyes.
If orthoses have not worked in the past for a particular issue, it doesn’t mean that they might not work in the future, as a different prescription in a different pair of orthoses may be more beneficial, however, orthoses do not help with everything. More information about the various types that we prescribe can be found on our orthoses page.