(602) 938-3600 | 5750 W Thunderbird Rd G700, Glendale, AZ 85306

Shoe Inserts vs. Custom Orthotics

Many people don’t know that there is a crucial difference between the two broad categories of shoe inserts and custom orthotics.  Mistaking the difference and discounting custom orthotics can deprive someone from the important pain relieving and functionally enabling power of custom orthotics.  

Shoe inserts are the devices you’ve seen at the grocery store or drug store. You’ve probably even seen them on TV or online.  Shoe inserts are any kind of non-prescription foot support designed to be worn inside a shoe.  For example if I wear a size 10 shoe and you wear a size 10 shoe we could buy the same pair of inserts and hope they work for each of us.  Despite what the ads might say, unless the doctor has written a prescription for the orthotic, just for you, it is not a custom orthotic.  That being said shoe inserts can be very helpful for a variety of foot ailments. They can cushion your feet, provide some comfort, and support your arches.

Custom orthotics are specially-made devices designed to support and comfort your feet and only your feet.  If I tried to share my custom orthotics with you, most likely you would react to them just the same as if you tried someone else’s prescription eyewear, it just wouldn’t work.  Orthotics match the contours of your feet precisely and are designed for the way you move.  When preparing the prescription the podiatrist will appreciate the unique way your foot and body functions with each step, take a 3-D image of your foot, and take into account other health issues you may have.  Then using a nearly limitless variety of materials, construction methods, and biomechanic principles they will order a custom made orthotic device for your unique requirements.  Custom orthotics are truly custom.  Your right and left orthotic may be unique from one another!

Podiatrists often use custom orthotics to treat foot problems such as foot and ankle pain, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, tendinitis, and off-load diabetic foot ulcers.  From world class athletes and weekend warriors to patients suffering from severe and deforming foot disorders, custom orthotics can provide the best means necessary to maximize the comfort and function of every step for the individual.

Orthotics typically cost more than shoe inserts purchased in a retail store, but when indicated the additional cost is well worth it.  Prescription orthotics are also made of top-notch materials and typically last many years when cared for properly.  Many health insurance plans often help pay for prescription orthotics.

If you have serious pain or discomfort, however, schedule an appointment with Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists. Our office will assess you as an individual, take into account your overall health, and make sure you get exactly what is best for you. 


Monday 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Tuesday 6:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Wednesday 6:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday 6:30 AM – 6:00 PM
Friday 6:30 AM – 2:00 PM
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed

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