Why Custom Orthotics Can Be Cheaper in the Long Run

by | Nov 26, 2018 | Custom Orthotics

When it comes to many things, cost is something that is almost always going to come up in one form or another. That’s just life.

And, when it comes to many things that have a price, something will always try to provide a cheaper alternative. That’s just business.

There are cases when going for a lower-cost alternative is perfectly fine and reasonable. Sometimes you really are just paying for the brand. When it comes to your foot and ankle health, however, it pays to consider the situation more thoroughly.

Orthotics are a common form of treatment for many causes of foot and heel pain, such as plantar fasciitis, flat feet, and neuromas. And when it comes to orthotics, you have choices:

  • Custom orthotics, prescribed to specifically fit your foot shape and provide support to areas most in need.
  • Over-the-counter orthotics, available at pharmacies and stores, that are designed in a “one size fits all” manner.

Store-bought orthotics will cost less individually than a pair of custom-made orthotics. And, in certain cases, store-bought orthotics mightbe a good choice for your needs.

However, if you’re rushing off to the store just for the price factor alone, you might want to take a second look at your choice of investment. Orthotics bought over the counter might just cost you more in the long run.

Here are a few points to keep in consideration.

Custom Orthotics

Custom orthotics are more durable

Custom-made orthotics are made of quality materials and designed to last. On average, custom orthotics will last through up to three years of normal use.

Over-the-counter orthotics, on the other hand, are made to be more disposable. Most are made to last a maximum of 9 months, and you can expect them to last even less if you are often up and moving around. If your over-the-counter insoles are made entirely of foam, you can expect them to be on the lower end of durability than those made with a combination of foam and plastic.

With general maintenance, review, and refurbishment, one set of custom orthotics can last the lifespan of multiple over-the-counter purchases. 

Custom orthotics can do more for your feet

Store-bought insoles can add support and cushioning to your feet, but they are not designed to address actual structural foot conditions.

This is in opposition to custom orthotics, which can provide much more direct response to conditions. Generally, custom orthotics come in two forms:

  • Accommodative orthotics, which provide cushioning and support similar to over-the-counter insoles. However, the capabilities of accommodative orthotics are much more specialized. In addition to relieving pain, they can also be customized to treat diabetic foot ulcers, keep calluses and neuromas from forming, and achieve other specific goals.
  • Functional orthotics are often made of much tougher stuff than accommodative kinds—usually harder plastic or graphite. This is because they are made to control abnormal motion, such as the foot rolling inward too far while walking (overpronation). They can also be much more effective at addressing conditions such as Achilles tendinitis and shin splints by keeping ankles more stable.

In other words, over-the-counter orthotics are a bit of a one-trick pony. They might provide some temporary relief, but they are not going to address problems as deeply as orthotics made especially for your needs.

Foot Inspection

Custom orthotics includes a full examination of your foot and ankle needs

Of course, to even begin to know what conditions should be addressed in your feet and ankles requires a complete podiatric examination. When you opt for custom orthotics, the examination is always included!

When podiatrists prescribe custom orthotics, the specifications we request are usually much more complex than what might be received by an orthopedist or other professional. Podiatrists have received specialized training for the foot and ankle, whereas others have had broader but not-as-targeted training.

Many labs that produce orthotics have their own specialists assigned to orders only from podiatrists, since our orders tend to be much more nuanced!

What this all means is, when you receive custom orthotics prescribed by a podiatrist, you are receiving truly customized help based on a full understanding of your foot and ankle needs.

For some minor cases, over-the-counter orthotics might still fit your needs. Without knowing what is fully going on, however, using them is largely guesswork—and, in some cases, cushioning could be going to the wrong places and potentially making problems worse.

The Costs of Discomfort

The truth is that, at face value, custom orthotics do cost more than those you can buy in a store. But when it comes to the costs of regularly returning to the store for more orthotics, not having your problems fully addressed, and potentially even causing further problems, we feel that custom orthotics are in most cases much more worth it.

If store-bought orthotics are likely to work for you, we will be sure to inform you of the option. And if we believe custom-made orthotics are an important part of your treatment plan, we will also be sure to explain to you fully why that is. We will also work with your insurance and other financial options as best we can to ensure you are receiving your custom orthotics for the best possible price.

Our offices in Newton and Wichita are here to help you make the best decisions regarding your foot and ankle care. Give us a call at (866) 222-5177 or fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.