Myths and misconceptions about anything can delay correct decisions. Myths and misconceptions about foot health and orthoses can delay treatment and result in unnecessary pain.

Here are foot health and orthoses’ misconceptions - and the correct information:

I have to live with the pain

No, you don’t. Custom orthotics help to relieve pain by providing cushioning, support and correct foot positioning. PAL Health Technologies fabricates functional foot orthoses to doctors’ specifications for their patients. That means each orthotic is manufactured using measurements taken by the doctor of each patient’s foot. While orthoses can’t reverse damage that’s already occurred, they may slow or stop additional damage and reduce pain.

Orthoses lead to muscle loss

Some people incorrectly believe that wearing orthoses leads to loss of muscle strength because the foot becomes dependent on the support of the orthotic. But this doesn’t consider that orthotics frequently are prescribed for a structural bio-mechanical deformity rather than a temporary muscular deficiency, said Jonathan Leach, PAL orthotist. The argument made by some denouncing custom orthoses fails to appreciate the specificity of each individual’s structural circumstance and doesn’t allow accommodation for post-operative anatomical deficiency, Leach said. When the foot is brought into alignment, wear and tear on the foot is slowed. If we observe the multitude of foot structures that exist ranging from the flat foot to a high arch, we can begin to appreciate that there is no singular solution and this must be evaluated on a patient-by-patient basis. Functional foot orthoses and adequate footwear can accommodate for the wear and tear that already exists and compensate for structural inefficiencies because of genetics or post-operative anatomical misalignment, he said.

I don’t have a foot problem so I don’t need an orthotic

Sometimes, an orthotic is prescribed because of a problem in another part of the body. Orthoses may relieve pain in the shins, knees and lower back. For more information about whether an orthotic can help you with aches and pain beyond the foot, contact PAL and we can connect you with a podiatrist in your area.

An orthotic should fit me immediately

Even though your orthoses are fabricated based on the measurements of your feet, your feet need time to adjust to the orthoses. Ease into wearing them for one to two hours the first day and then adding an hour or two each day until you’re wearing them full-time by the end of that first week.

You don’t have an orthotic for me

Some people incorrectly believe that there are only a couple different types of orthoses. However, PAL Health manufactures a variety of functional foot orthoses, custom diabetic inserts and custom plastic and leather ankle-foot orthoses. We recognize that there are a variety of patient clinical indications, needs and body types so we offer a variety of products.

I can buy the same orthotic at the pharmacy

With pharmacies offering more shoe inserts over-the-counter, some people incorrectly believe that those items are the same as our custom orthotics. They are not. Products sold OTC at pharmacies offer nothing more than additional padding that breaks down quickly. Bio-mechanically, they do nothing for the patient, offering no structural support. PAL products are medical devices that are custom-fabricated to the measurements of each patient’s foot as provided by their doctor.

All these products are made overseas

All PAL products are manufactured in Pekin, Illinois. When you call PAL, you are speaking with customer service consultants who are literally down the hall from the lab where the orthoses are fabricated.

My custom orthotic should last forever

Most orthotics last about five years. When it’s time to replace your orthoses, you may need to be recast by your doctor. Feet change, whether because of an injury or degeneration over time. That means changes may need to be made with your replacement orthotics.

If I lose or damage my orthoses, I’m out of luck

PAL offers comprehensive protection for your orthoses for two years. For people who purchase the Safe & Sound warranty, PAL will cover the cost of required repairs and replacements of your custom orthoses, arising from normal wear, for two years.

There’s nothing new in the orthotics world

PAL Health has been around for years because we’ve adapted. One product that we introduced last year is the Tri-Lam Elite, an accommodative device that doesn’t try to correct foot positioning or abnormal motion as is the case with other PAL products. Rather, it’s for cushioning and support to relieve foot pain. Another product introduced recently is the Profile Brace, a leather ankle-foot orthotic. Stay tuned. PAL expects to introduce other new products in the years to come.

Next time, we will discuss new developments at PAL Health.

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Paul Swiech is vice president of communications with PAL Health Technologies. Before he joined PAL, he was a newspaper reporter for 37 years. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and exercising.