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Custom Foot Orthotics vs Over The Counter Orthotics

Custom Foot Orthotics vs Over The Counter Orthotics: Which One Should You Choose?

Last Updated: May 2, 2022

If you grapple with back, knee, foot, or joint pain, becoming active and walking around can be a tall order. An effective solution to foot pain is orthotics. These are specialized heel inserts or orthopedic shoes that are handy in treating different ankle and foot problems.

You can buy them over the counter or have them customized by a chiropodist or podiatrist. Various types of orthotics are tailored to relieve pain from different foot and ankle issues.

Both custom foot orthotics and over-the-counter orthotics have their pros and cons. It is important to understand their major differences as it’ll help you make an informed choice when in the market for orthotics.

Difference Between Custom Foot Orthotics and Over The Counter Orthotics

The main difference between custom foot orthotics and over-the-counter orthotics is that custom foot orthotics are customized for the feet and specific conditions while over-the-counter orthotics attempt a one-size-fits-all solution. Over-the-counter orthotics are for minor and temporary foot pain while custom orthotics are  best for mechanical conditions that affect the feet.

Custom Foot Orthotics Pros and Cons

The main advantage of custom foot orthotics is the fact that they’re long-lasting, high-quality, and specific to your feet and condition. Their downside is their costly nature. Additionally, they might take a bit more time to be ready.

Over The Counter Orthotics Pros and Cons

The main advantage of over-the-counter orthotics is that they’re always available and affordable. Their drawback is that they aren’t durable or condition specific. You need to replace them often.

Custom Foot Orthotics and Over The Counter Orthotics Compared

Here are some of the main factors that distinguish custom foot orthotics to over the counter orthotics;

Better Fit and Quality Differences

The fit is one of the most notable distinguishing attributes of custom and over-the-counter orthotics. The latter is usually a one-size-fits-all solution for your foot pain while the latter has to be tailored for your feet and condition.

You can grab most insoles from sporting goods shops or department stores ready to wear. Many are made from silicone or rubber to allow users to cut them down to their preferred sizes.

Even the costlier or premium over-the-counter insoles feature cheap materials that in most cases do not offer a similar support level that the longer-lasting materials would.

Depending on the function and type of orthotic, they might be made from carbon fiber, rigid plastics, polypropylene, cork, or leather.

Custom orthotics on the other hand are made from high-quality materials that provide a better, more quality, and more comfortable fit.

Durability Differences

Just like gym shoes are not tailored to handle 300 to 500 miles, the same is true for most insoles. The more you put them on and the poor quality the design of the insole, the faster they will break down. Their material begins to wear thin while the arch flattens.

Moving them between different pairs and wearing them throughout the day calls for regular replacement if you desire to continue enjoying relief.

When it comes to durability, custom orthotics tend to be far more durable compared to their over-the-counter counterparts. This is because their design features higher-quality material that does not wear out or break down as quickly.

Since they’re custom made for your condition and feet, it means there’ll be fewer pressure points on the custom orthotics compared to regular insoles. What this does is that it helps slow down the rate at which they break down thus enabling users to go for longer in between replacements.

Price and Health Insurance Rebate Differences

Custom orthotics are costlier compared to insoles. Nonetheless, they provide better cost savings in the long term.

Since custom orthotics are tailored to last and customized specifically for your feet, you’ll not need to replace them as regularly as their over-the-counter counterparts. Therefore, even though you might spend more initially, you might have to replace them less frequently which goes miles to help you save money over time.

If your choice of custom orthotics is designed to treat a specific medical condition, doing so might also be handy in saving you a huge cost in future doctor visits and treatments.

Rarely will insurance cover over-the-counter insoles. Due to their affordable nature, anyone can buy them without the need to get a prescription or see a doctor.

Custom orthotics on the other hand are doctors or specialists prescribed. In most if not all instances, insurance companies consider them part of their client’s medical care.

This benefit varies based on your coverage and insurance provider. In many cases, insurance covers orthotics or you could claim a rebate for a part of the orthotics from an insurance provider.

Quick-Fix vs Long-Term Solution

Of the many reasons many folks opt to settle for over-the-counter insoles is the fact that they’re an effortless and quick solution.

Since this option is available in countless stores and is easy to cut to your preferred size at home, adding them to your shoes within minutes for quick relief is a breeze.

Unfortunately, often, the relief is temporary. In most instances, it treats the pain without addressing the condition or root cause of your discomfort and pain.

Since customized orthotics are tailored for specific feet and needs, getting them takes longer. It could take around one to two weeks between expert appointments and when they’ll be ready. Additional time might be necessary if you will have to schedule a follow-up visit.

Nonetheless, the long-term savings, quality, durability, and improved fit are worth the wait.

Custom Foot Orthotics vs Over The Counter Orthotics – Making Your Final Choice

When it comes to making a choice between custom foot orthotics and over-the-counter orthotics, your budget and the type of condition you’re suffering from should be your main factors to consider. If you have a more long term, mechanical or serious condition, opt for custom orthotics, especially if your budget and time allow. If you lack the time and money,  you can settle for the over-the-counter orthotics.