What Makes Custom Orthotics Better than Store-Bought Inserts?

“Close enough” is probably not something you’d ever want to hear your doctor say when it comes to treating you. And when it comes to addressing foot and ankle concerns with custom orthotics, “close enough” is not going to be a satisfying option for those with particularly stubborn pain!

Custom orthotics are an exact science. If we are using true custom orthotics as part of your treatment, we are prescribing a very specific application of cushioning and corrective support to your feet. That pair of custom orthotics (and any others we may prescribe in the future) is made for your feet and yours alone.

Orthotic inserts that you can find over the counter or off the shelf of a pharmacy simply don’t provide this level of specificity toward treatment, and that can make a huge difference in many cases. 

That does not also mean that prefabricated inserts are always useless, however. There are times and cases when they can be an effective route for a patient’s needs – when used correctly, of course. For milder pain, “close enough” sometimes really is close enough.

But in addition to their direct applications in treatment, custom orthotics also hold a few other advantages over store-bought versions. We’ll discuss a few of them here, as well as when and how we might consider prefabricated orthotics instead.

Custom Orthotics are Much More Durable

If you have a pair of custom orthotics, you can typically be assured they will last a great deal longer than over-the-counter varieties.

Prefabricated orthotics are designed more with disposability in mind. Custom orthotics, on the other hand, are designed with the goal of providing an exact form of support for as long as possible. In that way, custom orthotics are made from much more durable materials. If it was easy for custom orthotics to degrade and lose their form in a relatively short period of time, they certainly wouldn’t be a worthy investment at all!

With proper care and maintenance, most pairs of orthotics can last 2-3 years, and sometimes much longer. That said, the lifespan of your orthotics may vary depending on the amount of use they receive, how well they are cared for, and what exact materials they are composed of. 

It is very important to have your custom orthotics checked at least once per year to ensure they are still performing admirably for your feet and have not worn down so much that they need refurbished or replaced. But that does bring us to our next point.

Custom Orthotics Can Be Adjusted to Your Needs

While custom orthotics are specially prescribed to the unique structure of your feet, that does not necessarily mean that changes won’t be needed from time to time.

If we find some adjustments need to be made after an initial fitting, we can easily make those at our office. But there is also the future to consider as well.

After all, the needs of bodies can change over time, too. You might experience changes to your activity levels or work environment. You may gain or lose a significant amount of weight. A bunion or other foot deformity that your orthotics are helping keep in check may still slowly shift its position.

When we check your custom orthotics for wear and tear, we also re-check the needs of your feet. If adjustments need to be made to keep your orthotics performing at top levels for you, we can do so. Prefabricated orthotics tend not to be as versatile.

Custom Orthotics Can Provide Lasting Benefits Over Multiple Shoes

Many insurance plans fully or significantly cover the cost of a new pair of custom orthotics each year – and you should absolutely take advantage of those savings!

Even if your first pair of custom orthotics is still in great shape, having a second pair can be highly beneficial:

  • You can have a second pair made especially for athletic shoes, work boots, dress shoes, or any other footwear you use, ensuring you have a good fit for them without having to swap your inserts from shoe to shoe all the time.
  • With wear and tear split between more than one pair of custom orthotics, the expected lifespan of each pair increases.

And yes, you could buy multiple pairs of over-the-counter inserts, but you’ll be buying plenty more of them with their reduced durability.

custom orthotics

So When Are Prefabricated Orthotics a Good Idea?

There are certainly cases when a prefabricated orthotic can fulfill a patient’s foot and ankle needs. Such cases tend to be very mild in nature, such as minor pain and discomfort caused by a mild flat foot deformity.

Running to the store and trying out inserts off the shelf still isn’t a great idea, however. You’re largely guessing at what can help, using a rather rigid selection of choices!

Come to our office instead. In addition to providing custom orthotics, we also carry lines of customizable prefabricated orthotics we will recommend for certain situations. We can adjust and fine-tune them using special tools in order for your feet to get the most potential benefit out of them. 

Our customizable orthotics cost about as much as you would expect to pay for many good store-bought orthotics, and are the best option for using pre-made inserts without the hassle of worrying whether or not you made a good choice.

Get the Best Help for Your Foot or Ankle Troubles

Are custom orthotics or customizable pre-fabs your best choice for addressing your needs? What if it’s neither?

Our mission is always to get to the root of each patient’s pain and discomfort, then recommend the best route to finding relief. Whether this means orthotics, changes in routines, or even minor surgical procedures such as HyProCure, we will always openly and comprehensively discuss all your options with you, as well as answer any questions you may have.

Call our Lee’s Summit office at (816) 246-4222 to schedule an appointment. And please don’t hesitate to let us know if you would prefer a consultation over telemedicine instead. We will be happy to accommodate you to the best of our ability.

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