Technological advances in healthcare have revolutionised the way that injuries and diseases that affect people’s ability to walk on their own two feet are treated, and there are now many options available for patients that can give them a new lease of life and not see them bedridden or confined to a wheelchair.
Orthotics is the speciality in the medical field that designs, creates and manufactures Orthosis for medical patients who are struggling with mobility in the foot, ankle or knee. The orthosis is the device that is fitted to the body with the main purpose of helping them to walk, and but has many other goals attached to it, including increased mobility, correcting deformities to the foot, protecting and supporting injuries and reducing the pain that comes from all of these factors.
The different orthosis types include:
Foot Orthosis (FOs)
– These are for foot, leg and issues with posture
Ankle Orthosis (AOs)
– This orthosis protects the ankle from post-surgery pain, adding support and ensuring that no added pressure is applied to the ankle
Knee Orthosis (KOs)
– Pain protection and security for the knee, also used in post-surgery to prevent any accidents and further injury due to applied pressure
Ankle-Foot Orthosis (AFOs)
– Improves mobility and is often used to support rehabilitation, particularly in sport-related injuries
Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthosis (KAFOs)
– The same as above, but this orthosis covers the whole of the lower leg and protects against any further issues arising within those areas.
There are custom-made orthotics to suit the needs and requirements of each and every patient. This is because everybody has a different shape, some people have longer legs, wider feet or smaller feet, and some will need extra support, depending on the injury they’ve sustained or whatever reason they have for requiring a orthosis for their foot, ankle or knee.
Foot Conditions Treated with Orthosis
Orthosis is used to treat a multitude of different ailments to do with the foot, ankle or knee, and there are a wide range of people who use them; from sports injuries caused by poor footwear, wear and tear to the bones and ligament damage, to day-to-day issues such as not taking care of your feet properly (wearing the wrong footwear, developing skin conditions, etc.), carrying too much weight (and therefore applying too much pressure on these areas) and poor circulation and blood flow that can lead to issues in the foot area.
Whatever the reason, orthosis are designed to address a multitude of issues with the feet, and help patients to improve their posture, overcome injuries and ailments, cushion the feet from added pressure and absorb the shock that comes from pounding the pavements in everyday life.
The foot conditions that may require you to seek out professional orthosis pain management include the following issues:
A deformity of the big toe joint that is both painful and unpleasing to the eye, bunions can be dealt with by wearing an orthosis by easing the pain by taking the pressure off the foot. With the pressure off, you can treat your bunion with ice and get the rest you’ll need to recover from a painful bunion.
A large number of people struggle with the arches of their feet, either from wearing flat shoes too often (which wears down the bones on the bottom of the feet and can be extremely painful) or from injuries and genetic deformities. Orthosis can give the arch of the foot the support required to be able to walk without discomfort and pain.
When the bottoms of your feet are worked hard – from sport activity, walking, running or wearing tough shoes at work – the body tries to protect itself by building up a wall of hard skin (often yellow in colour as the skin is essentially dead) to save itself from extra pain. These are called calluses, and a orthosis can be used to take the weight off your feet when you have painful calluses on the balls of your feet.
As well as bunions, there are a number of toe deformities – including claw and mallet toes, hallux rigidus AKA stiff big toe, and hammertoe – that can benefit from the creation of supportive orthotic devices designed to take the pressure off the toe area and allow any injuries or post-surgery ailments to heal without irritation.
There are a wide range of other toe, feet, ankle and knee conditions that can be treated with a custom-made orthosis, and the orthosis treatment London clinics are popular for is a good place to start. It is certainly worth making an appointment with a doctor at one of these clinics if you have anything from the list above, or any other issues that may require orthotic treatment.
Foot Assessment for Orthosis
Custom made orthotics
Injuries and ailments that require the orthosis treatment London clinics can provide need to be assessed by a podiatrist, in order to clarify what the issue is, how it should be treated, and the type of orthosis that will be required to ensure that the problem can be dealt with, and without any further injuries taking place.
Once your regular doctor has referred you to a podiatrist, the area that is causing you problems will be assessed for any abnormalities, issues with bone structure, swelling and deformities. While this assessment takes place, they will also check a number of other factors that may have led you to this position, including:
- Family history – In case there is anything in your genetics that is passing down these ailments from generation to generation
- Day-to-day use of that area – including what job you do, whether you’re on your feet a large amount of time during the day, how much do you walk, etc.
- History of that area – Have you had surgery to the foot before? Any injuries or recurring pain that may have been ignored in the past?
- Checking footwear – Is there a likelihood that flat shoes, high heels or heavy-duty work shoes are the main culprits of your condition?
Once these questions have been answered and the full evaluation of the troubled area has been assessed, the podiatrist will make the decision as to whether or not you require orthotic treatment or not. If this is the case, there are two directions in which the treatment can go:
- For a simple case or poor footwear and for lesser ailments that don’t require more extreme treatment, there are ov
er-the-counter insoles that are likely to be recommended by the podiatrist. These are slotted into trainers, shoes and heels and can help to cushion painful issues on the soles of your feet, prevent bunions from getting worse, and protect your feet until they begin to heel. These can also aid any alignment issues to the arch of the foot, improving your posture and relieving pain in that area. You can purchase these insoles from the web or from any good pharmacist.
- For more extreme cases where pressure needs to be relieved for long periods of time, your podiatrist will recommend having custom-made orthosis created specifically for your treatment, which is formed from plaster impressions and turned into a cast that fits perfectly with the area that requires it. Each cast is made to suit the needs of the individual patient, whether it be tougher materials to protect the more painful ailments, or softer materials where extra mobility is required.
Types of Foot Orthotics
There are two different types of foot orthotics:
Accommodative Foot Orthosis
The most common type of foot Orthosis, these are designed to cushion and relieve pressure from the area of injury, and to reduce the amount of pain directed towards the bottom of the foot. They are generally more flexible, having more padding, and are softer than the functional kind of foot Orthosis . They are formed using a range of materials, including plastic foam, rubber, cork and leather, and the casing in based on a 3D model of the foot created using a plaster mold of the foot in question, which is formed by the foot being pressed into a box of compressible foam.
The main types of ailments that require accommodative Orthosis include:
- Sore bones
- Foot injuries
- Foot ulcerations (commonly seen in patients who suffer from diabetes)
Accommodative Orthosis have plenty of advantages, but the major one is that they are pretty soft and comfortable, and can be adjusted to suit the needs of the patient. However, they can sometimes have pure durability, and may need to be altered and/or replaced if they receive any damage for any reason.
Functional Foot Orthosis
If you are suffering from painful conditions of the foot such as joint pain in the big toe, lesser toes, or pain in the arch and instep, ankle or the heel, chances are you will be fitted for a functional foot Orthosis . These are used because so many abnormal foot conditions can lead to bigger problems such as issues with the knee, hip or the leg in general, and because they are durable, don’t require as many adjustments as accommodative Orthosis and are more likely to fit into your everyday kind of shoes, they are extremely popular. However, they don’t have much room for adjustments, and offer far less cushioning than the accommodative Orthosis .
Whichever type of foot orthosis you need, it’s good to know that there are plenty of clinics and professional services out there that can get you the advice and support you need, and get your feet, ankles, heels and knees back to full health by taking away the pressure and applying comfortable support that is affordable and will give you the mobility you need in your life.