Orthotics and shoesButter or margarine? Dried fruit or the real thing? Artificial sweetener or sugar? The debate goes on about which is better for you. The same holds true for custom orthotics vs. general inserts. Both kinds of orthotics could help you in some way. The hard part is deciding what kind you need.  

You can get inserts by walking into any general foot care section of the local grocery, drug, or shoe store. They usually come in a package with a prearranged symptom or part of the foot they help to comfort. It’s true—over-the-counter inserts will help, but they have limits.

You should buy general inserts for a temporary solution. They can give you additional cushioning and a little added support, but they don’t last as long as custom-made orthotics. If you just need a small support for work or a night out on the town, or you are looking for something to relieve pressure on a callus or blister, look no further than an insert from the store.  Remember most of these orthotics are made in foreign countries and don’t cost more than a dollar or two and yet they are sold many times for hundreds of dollars.

You should buy a custom orthotic if you have a circulation problem, diabetic ulcers, or heel pain, or if you want to correct an abnormal foot strike or treat shin splints, a bunion, or another foot deformity. These supports are given only after a podiatrist has looked over your foot structure and studied the way you walk. Although the price tag is higher for custom orthotics, they can last up to five years and will match the exact shape of your foot to prevent and treat your specific problems.

We hope we cleared up the differences between custom orthotics vs. general inserts. If you need a specially-made pair, call the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group’s office in Carmichael, CA, at (916) 961-3434 to get fitted.

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