Custom orthotics are known to have notoriously diverse price ranges. People dealing with ankle pain, foot pain, and other issues seek help from custom orthotics if over-the-counter orthotics do not provide the necessary support and pain relief. If you visit a podiatrist to ask about custom orthotics, it’s essential to have the prices in mind to avoid sticker shock. After all, how much could a piece of plastic cost?
To help you break down this important custom orthotics decision, we’re sharing an overview of what goes into making the orthotics, price tags for different custom orthotics options, how to select the best orthotics for flat feet, and aspects that add to the higher cost.
The Basics of Customized Orthotics
When buying orthotics, there are some things to remember.
- Custom-made orthotics can cost anywhere from $200 to $800. Office visits and consultations can quickly add up to the total cost.
- When practitioners give a diagnosis for orthotics, most consider the final orthotic fee to be inclusive of a group of smaller fees of services accumulated throughout the entire orthotic treatment regimen.
- The overall cost of treatment varies from one doctor to the next. Discrepancies in prices are brought about by the difference in the biomechanical exam, quality of material used, and casting techniques, among other services.
- Most podiatrists do not quote an actual fee; instead, they quote a fee for an entire treatment program. The program consists of gait analysis, the fee for orthotic devices procured, negative impression casting, and a biomechanical exam.
- A diagnosis for custom orthotics should come from specialists such as podiatrists. Lots of people with foot problems think custom orthotics can solve their issues. Different alternatives such as over-the-counter insoles can be just as effective for particular foot problems. However, it’s vital to get professional input before foregoing one option for another.
What Are You Paying for When You Purchase Custom Orthotics?
Custom orthotics require a prescription like any other medical treatment. Here’s what goes to the total cost of the custom-made orthotic prescription.
- Assessment: The doctor and patient discuss any existing condition and injuries encountered. The podiatrist begins the assessment with lower extremity biomechanical procedures. This consists of clinical gait analysis and orthopedic assessment. Simply put, these are procedures carried out on your feet to determine the best insole with respect to your activities and lifestyle.
- Casting: The doctor will make recommendations after reviewing different footwear. A three-dimensional cast of your foot is obtained in what is known as the “anatomical volumetric foot model.” The process allows capture of the plantar foot and anatomy when the foot is under different conditions — non-load bearing, semi-load bearing, and fully loaded conditions.
- Manufacturing the orthoses: A prescription from the podiatrist guides the manufacture of the orthoses. Details such as your weight, medical condition, footwear, and activity level are accommodated in the orthoses’ design. Custom-made orthotics derive their name from this individualized process. Different materials can be used to create the shell that acts as a foundation for the orthotics. Computer-aided design, coupled with exceptional craftsmanship, helps recreate the contours of the foot.
- Markup: The difference between the overall cumulative cost of manufacturing, podiatrist assessment, and casting compared to the final selling price is called the markup. After figuring out the final production cost, the manufacturer adds a markup to recover the expenses incurred during manufacturing and create a profit.
What Do Podiatrists Say About the Cost of Custom Orthotics?
The cost of custom-made insoles surpasses that of over-the-counter orthotics. Because of this, you might be tempted to go for alternative low-cost remedies. Overlooking prescribed custom orthotics may lead to other unwanted issues. Podiatrists provide accurate prices and details such as how often you should wear orthotics.
Certain conditions warrant custom orthotics. In some cases, the best course of action is to overlook the price and embrace the benefits of the custom-made insole. Some of the conditions that benefit from the use of custom insoles include:
Foot pain is a symptom associated with foot biomechanical problems. Foot pain can occur in the toes, heel, or arch. It is also associated with bunions, metatarsalgia, and plantar fasciitis.
- Bunions: A bunion comes from progressive deformation and can sometimes be hereditary. In most cases, bunions stem from muscle imbalance and joint instability. Bunions require conservative interventions like custom orthotics. The cost notwithstanding, custom orthotics are the best measure used to redistribute the weight and ease symptoms of a bunion.
- Metatarsalgia: The use of custom orthotics is known to ease pain and prevent the reoccurrence of metatarsalgia. Normally, patients with this condition experience pain when walking or during any physical activity.
- Plantar fasciitis: Custom orthotics are known to improve the common foot injury plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is characterized by heel and arch pain. Using special insoles helps prevent recurrence by cushioning or supporting your foot.
Do You Really Need an $800 Custom-made Insole?
For walkers, runners, and other exercisers, part of a good workout is minimal abuse to the foot and the rest of the lower body. When the ankles start to throb and the heel hurts, investing in custom orthotics seems worthwhile.
Overpronation and oversupination, commonly characterized by a high arch and low arch in your foot, can be corrected with custom insoles. However, should the price influence your decision to use custom orthotics?
Understanding the benefits of custom orthotics explains the surge in industry sales. According to data charted over the last five years, industry sales of custom-made orthotics have increased by 12%. The boom has to do with the growing demand and effectiveness of the tailor-made insole. While most shoes accommodate custom orthotics, some critics say over-the-counter (OTC) orthotics work just as well. Still, not every podiatrist is convinced that OTC options are adequate alternatives to custom orthotics.
The bottom-line? The higher custom orthotics prices are justified by the individualized process that goes into creating them. Most OTC orthotics last six months to a year before they start to wear out, while custom orthotics last up to a decade. If you are considering OTC orthotics, think about the value in the long term.
It’s easy to wonder why custom orthotics can cost so much, but hopefully you now have a better understanding of why. If you still feel uncertain about your decision, we can help you connect with other patients. Our peer counseling program helps you get in touch with patients who have undergone similar experiences. At Scheck & Siress, we have the right custom orthotics for you. Contact us today for more information.