When weighing the options between a pair of custom orthotics vs. a pair of store-bought orthotics there are a number of things to consider.
The Pedorthic Association of Canada defines store-bought orthotics or over the counter foot orthotics as “mass-produced devices that are not unique to any person”.
Custom orthotics are defined as “an internal foot appliance which is manufactured from a three-dimensional image of the foot, and made from raw materials. Custom orthotics can accommodate bony deformities, and/or modify the movement pattern of the foot and lower limb”.
Store-bought orthotics are made with lower quality materials and are not very supportive through the arch.
Advantage: for a person with a lack of padding on their feet (i.e. fat pad dystropohy) or a person with normal feet who spends a lot of time standing or walking on hard surfaces, may find that a cushion may be all that is necessary.
Disadvantage: Materials break down faster than the higher quality materials used in custom orthotics.
Store-bought orthotics are made for an “average” foot shape and may not be ideal for all people.
Advantage: these orthotics provide a small amount of support for the average shaped foot.
Disadvantage: If the patient’s foot is not the same or similar to the shape of the store-bought orthotic then the level of comfort and support will be minimal if any is achieved at all.
Store-bought orthotics tend to be less expensive.
Advantage: They are less expensive which can be a good thing.
Disadvantage: Insurance companies will NOT cover the costs associated with store-bought orthotics and due to the wear and tear to the materials used, replacement is usually required every 3 to 6 months which is much more often than custom orthotics.
Custom orthotics provide a large number of design options with respect to materials used so that the orthotic can be designed exactly to your needs.
This allows for a customized fit, feel and design for each individual and for the types of shoes that they wear. We can take into account the person’s foot, biomechanical control needs, the type of shoe the custom orthotic will need to fit into, the persons’ activities and any material allergies or discomfort the patient may have.
Custom orthotics tend to be more expensive.
Disadvantage: It is recognized that custom orthotics do have a rather large upfront cost
Advantage: When custom orthotics are made by a properly licensed professional, insurance companies will cover a portion, if not the entire cost, of the custom orthotics.
Key Factors to Consider:
Durability: The “lifespan” of store-bought orthotics are shorter than custom orthotics due to wear and tear on the materials used.
Cost: Custom orthotics are much more expensive however some or all of the costs are covered by most extended insurance policies and custom orthotics last much longer.
Time Sensitive: Custom orthotics require time to be manufactured and there is a 2-3 week time period from the examination to dispensation. In moments of urgency, store-bought orthotics can help with immediate relief.
Biomechanical / Motion Control: custom orthotics can be designed with exact specificity to suit your needs. These features are not available in off the shelf orthotics.
For further questions give us a call and we would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.