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Custom-Made Orthotics vs. Store-Bought Insoles

custom-made orthotics vs. store-bought insoles

The Differences between Custom-Made Orthotics vs. Store-Bought Insoles

It is true that not everyone needs custom-made orthotics. Sometimes a set of over-the-counter (OTC) orthotics will provide an acceptable level of relief from a mild condition. However, the ability to differentiate needs is imperative when deciding whether or not custom-made orthotics or generic over-the counter insoles are necessary.

Generic orthotics can also be an inexpensive solution for slipping into occasional footwear in lieu of the shoes’ default insoles. Some of our patients keep a pair of OTC orthotics on hand for just this purpose. They serve as a decent alternate option to their custom orthotics when they need an additional pair but are not yet eligible for insurance coverage for a second pair of custom-made orthotics.

Pros of store-bought orthotics

  • Widely available at small and large shoe stores, plus major retailers like big box stores and pharmacies
  • Relatively low cost, as compared to custom orthotics (good brands start at approximately $50)

Cons of store-bought orthotics

  • Mass produced, so quality can suffer from one pair to the next
  • One-device-fits-all – construction is based on an “average” foot structure, so no specificity in design
  • Limited life span (a few months on average, depending on material)
  • Limited In their ability to address serious and/or chronic lower limb and foot issues

There is a wide range of mass-produced insoles available. Unless you’re simply looking to address foot odour with your insoles, it’s worth investing in a good pair that are well-constructed. We recommend and sell Kneed Insoles in both three-quarter and full lengths.

For those seeking a more customized, higher level of foot support, and for those with more pronounced or chronic conditions, it is imperative that they work with a knowledgeable and experienced foot specialist to determine unique needs and construct their foot orthotics accordingly.

In addition, we can also suggest alternate or supplemental therapies and/or provide additional recommendations, as appropriate.

Pros of Custom Orthotics

  • Manufactured from a 3-dimensional cast (mold) of an individual’s foot (plaster, wax, foam box, contact digitize)
  • Uniquely designed and fabricated for each patient’s specific biomechanical/medical needs
  • Highly durable, with an average life span of 2-4 years, depending on usage
  • Provides ultimate comfort and performance
  • Doesn’t just relieve discomfort, but can resolve certain issues as well
  • Most, if not all, company insurance plans will cover at least a good portion of the cost.
  • As specialized providers, we prepare and provide the biomechanical assessment and gait analysis documents as well as the lab invoice required by most insurance plans.

Cons of Custom Orthotics

  • Due to the time and materials required for the assessment and fabrication process, custom orthotics are a much bigger investment than their store-bought counterparts.

Keep in mind that there are many conditions where pain is experienced in the ankles, knees, or hips, but the cause may be stemming from the feet. If you have concerns, we can provide a gait assessment that will help determine the best course of action for pain relief and correction of identified issues. Contact us today to get started.