Orthotics is an orthopedic specialty focused on the design, manufacture, and application of orthoses, an orthopedic device that supports or corrects the function of a limb. Orhotics can be used to restrict movement in a certain direction, assist movement, or reduce pressure.
Although it can be applied to other parts of the body, orthotics is most commonly used to treat conditions in the foot, such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and chondromalacia patella. Orthotic testing can also assist orthopedicists in identifying conditions such as cavus foot, pre planus foot, leg length discrepancies, and heavy callusing.
Conditions causing pain in the foot are often the result of an uneven distribution of weight, and how the foot reacts to that distribution. To diagnose and confirm the problem and prepare for treatment, orthopaedists can use technological aids to confirm the abnormality of body weight distribution through computerized mapping.
Using a computerized pressure mapping system, a patient is scanned in order to map the how each part of the foot bears weight when standing and walking. It is a non-invasive, straightforward procedure that analyzes the way each patient results his or her body weight while standing or walking, and determines how that distribution affects the body.
Orthopaedists can test how the foot functions with or without an orthotic device by using an in-shoe sensor. This device helps the orthopedicist to develop an effective treatment plan, determining whether weight distribution has been or will be improved while walking and standing.
By using an in-shoe sensor or other testing devices, the orthopaedist is able to identify the high pressure areas of a patient's foot and then find a way to offset that pressure, improving the patient's mobility and comfort in their everyday life.
Orthotics testing allows orthopedicists to provide reasonable relief to patients suffering from foot pain. For example, in cases where the pain is brought on by diabetes or arthritis, orthotics testing can be used to identify and relate specific points of pressure, preventing future ulcerations and pain. A weight-bearing assessment also helps patients experiencing leg fatigue or pain in the lower back from jobs that require that they stand in one spot for extended periods of time.
Thanks to advancement in technology, orthotic testing has become an essential service for orthopedic specialists. For patients experiencing foot pain, this type of testing can be instrumental in the diagnosis and treatment of the condition.