If you have ever had foot pain, ankle pain, leg pain, knee pain, or back pain, someone may have mentioned, “You should try orthotics in your shoes.” You may have even heard that you should get a custom orthotic doctor fit especially to your needs. The biggest question you may be facing is: Are they worth the price? We’ve found that, in most cases, an over-the-counter orthotic will perform better at a much lower cost for the average person.
“Traditional Custom Orthotics Hurt My Feet”
Traditional custom orthotics, while fit to your foot, can be aggressive and can cause more pain than you started with. According to Dr. Tom Biernacki, DPM, of Advance Foot & Ankle Specialists, it is always best to start with a more forgiving, over-the-counter orthotic to help adjust you to wearing orthotics. These are especially great for people that are on their feet for long hours, people that are overweight, people that have weaker leg or foot muscles, and people with very common, treatable foot problems.
Over-the-counter solutions will allow you to slowly work into orthotics and tailor them to your needs as you change and strengthen. Perhaps you need more support for long hours at work but enjoy a softer memory foam cushion support for everyday walking.
When You Have Pain, You Need Relief Fast
Speaking of finding relief for common issues, ordering a traditional custom orthotic can take weeks and sometimes months, or longer before they even get to your shoes. To get a custom orthotic, you may need to have a cast made, which will be sent off and made into your fit. It may also require you to get a referral or prescription to get custom orthotics and then have a consultation before getting the process started. If you have excruciating pain right now, it is going to be much harder to get fast relief with the traditional route. If you have excruciating pain right now, it is going to much harder to get fast relief with the traditional route.
With the over-the-counter option, you can visit the store, get a personalized fitting (if you are at a specialty store), and walk out with your pain relief plan the very same day. For those that prefer to shop online, you can even take a quiz to find out which orthotic will work best for you and have them in a few days. In most cases, they are available to start working on pain right when you need it most.
Traditional Custom Orthotics Cost A Lot
Unfortunately, custom orthotics are not frequently covered by insurance. The average cost of a pair usually sits anywhere from the $400 to $800 range and can, at times, go much higher. Besides being quite a hit to the piggy bank, another pitfall of that high cost is that you probably won’t want to buy more than one or two pairs so you will need to switch them between shoes often.
On the flip side, a good quality OTC orthotic, like the Aetrex Lynco and the Birkenstock Blue Footbed, will sit between $50 to $75, a fraction of the price of traditional orthotics. For both options, this is a much more digestible range and allows you to invest in multiple pairs: one for athletic shoes, one for work shoes, one for casual shoes. You won’t need to switch them out. All for under the cost of one traditional custom pair.
Traditional custom orthotics, with their high price point, long wait times, and unclear pain relief threshold, can present challenges for those in need of immediate pain relief. Common conditions like plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia, or just aches and pains, will likely be able to find comfort much faster with an over-the-counter solution.
If you want to find pain relief or optimal support fast, take our quiz to find the perfect orthotic for you.
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