How Long Do Orthotics Last?

Orthotics, like braces and shoe inserts can reduce or eliminate pain, improve your mobility, and help you heal from a variety of injuries. How long your orthotics will last depends on the type of orthotic you have as well as various environmental factors. Keep reading to learn more about the average lifespan of orthotics and when you should replace them.

How Long Do Nonprescription Orthotics Last?

People use nonprescription or over-the-counter orthotic shoe inserts to reduce pain and make shoes more comfortable, especially while running or standing for long periods of time. Many athletes, nurses, doctors, retail workers, servers, and other professionals use them, and they’re often available at drug stores and shoe stores. They usually last for around six months to a year, but you may need to replace them sooner if you like to run or you spend a lot of time on your feet.

How Long Do Custom Orthotics Last?

How long do orthotics last

Image via Flickr by dmuth

Custom orthotics are prescribed by a podiatrist or chiropractor. An orthotist is a specially trained healthcare professional who measures, fabricates, assembles, adjusts, and services orthotic braces. A pedorthist designs, manufactures, modifies, and fits custom footwear, foot orthotics, and some ankle and foot braces. Custom foot orthotics last for two or three years and are more durable than over-the-counter inserts as their customized fit helps reduce wear. They can last even longer if you don’t wear them all the time or if you have several pairs of orthotic braces or inserts to fit several different styles of shoes.

Accommodative orthotics like shoe inserts are usually made with cloth, dense foam, leather, cork, and other materials that can provide some padding and protection for your feet. However, the softer materials in these types of orthotics wear out faster than hard plastic, polypropylene, or carbon fiber braces. Braces made from these materials are called functional orthotics. They can last for several years, but eventually, their hinges and fasteners will start to deteriorate. 

When Do Orthotics Need Replacing?

Exactly when you’ll need to replace your orthotics depends on your needs and lifestyle. However, if you have an older orthotic, you may notice some common signs that it’s nearing the end of its life.

You might notice that your orthotic doesn’t help with pain as much as it used to. You could also feel less comfortable and more fatigued. If you’re wearing foot orthotics, too much wear and tear could lead to pain in your knees, back, or hips instead of or along with your feet. You could also feel more tired than usual at the end of each day.

A few scuffs or some dirt is fine, but if you could need new orthotics if you see visible wear like tears in cloth, inserts that have become flatter over time, creases, or cracks. Even if your orthotics never deteriorate, peoples’ bodies change over time. If you gain or lose weight, your orthotics may not fit as well as they once did.

The shapes of your feet can also change as you age. If you have corrective surgery on your feet, hips, or knees, you might not need your orthotic anymore, or you may need a different orthotic. If you frequently wear the same pair of shoes, take a look at the soles. Unusual or uneven tread wear could indicate that your orthotic needs adjustment or repair. Carrying a baby can change the shape and size of your feet and the way you walk, and many people need to change their orthotics or start wearing orthotics during pregnancy.

When Should You Have Your Orthotics Checked?

During your orthotic fitting, your podiatrist should let you know how often to have it checked by a professional based on your condition. Just like a pair of shoes, orthotics usually take about two weeks to break in and get used to, and they could feel slightly uncomfortable before then. If you don’t start feeling better after that, consult your podiatrist.

You may need some adjustments or modifications, and most people see their podiatrists several times during the first year. That way, the doctor can check on their progress and make sure that the specifications of their orthotics are right for them. After that, most people get their orthotics checked once per year.

Even if your orthotics seem to be working perfectly, you should have a professional take a look at them if they’re more than three years old. Your doctor may recommend that you wear your orthotics more or less often or only during athletic activities. You could also need an adjustment or new orthotics. Regular checkups can also let you know when you need new orthotics before the ones you have become less effective and allow your condition to become worse.

Do People Need More Than One Pair of Orthotics?

You can wear most types of orthotics with a variety of shoes. However, you may need a different pair for high heels or boots. Some people have one set of orthotics for running or similar activities and another for everyday wear as well.

What’s the Best Way to Care for Orthotics?

Your doctor should give you extensive instructions about how to keep your orthotics clean and in good condition. You should do your best to keep foot orthotics dry. Take them out of your shoes while you sleep to prevent odors, and let them air dry if needed. Don’t put your orthotics in a dryer. If they get dirty, you can clean them with a damp cloth, but you shouldn’t use soaps or cleaners. Don’t expose them to extreme temperatures, and try them on with new shoes to make sure you have the right size. You may need shoes one size bigger than normal to accommodate your orthotics properly and prevent excess wear.

To learn more about orthotics and find out if they can help you, contact us at Scheck & Siress. We can help you restore your mobility, and quality care has been our goal since our founding in 1953. We have 18 convenient locations, and teleconferencing is available for some appointments.