If someone suffers from problems with poor alignment of the feet, legs and spine, then they may find that the use of orthoses or orthotics is an effective option to counter this problem. Orthotics can be used across a broad range of conditions, providing an affected area of the body with additional support to correct structural abnormalities caused either by congenital problems or injury.
Poor structure or misalignment of the feet, legs and back can lead to pain, an awkward gait and discomfort for the person with the problem. Orthotics can be used to provide additional support, thereby providing the individual with increased ease of movement and preventing any worsening of the problem. The use of inserts in shoes to support fallen arches is one of the better known uses of orthotics, however this is only one such way in which orthoses can be utilised. For people with scoliosis or spinal injuries, as well as those suffering spina bifida or cerebral palsy, the use of different types of orthotics that offer support to the spine can help the sufferer.
If someone appears to need additional support for an injury or congenital condition, then a doctor or physiotherapist may refer them to a trained orthotist. An orthotist is an allied health care professional who has studied health sciences and physical motion at university, equipping them with the knowledge to provide assistance and create the appropriate orthotic devices to help the individual with their particular medical condition.
With the correct fitting and use of orthotics, the further development of a congenital condition can be corrected. One such example of this is the use of back braces to rectify scoliosis. Orthotic braces may be used to support the back and ensure that development occurs as it would in non-afflicted individuals; in particular this device is used with great success during the adolescent years. Orthotic devices for the feet, arches and lower legs are useful to provide support and prevent injury to tendons and straining of muscles and ligaments. Shoe inserts known as orthotics are often prescribed by podiatrists, physiotherapists and medical and sports injury doctors.
The correct fitting of orthotics and arch supports is one area that most people need to be particularly aware of. Specialist fitting of back supports and other orthotic devices is done by professional allied health workers, such as orthotists and podiatrist. The use of insoles and other orthotics supports that can be bought over the counter in pharmacies is of particular concern. Without the correct fitting of the device, the individual runs the risk of doing further harm. A professional can diagnose the precise nature of any poor structure and incorrect alignment in the feet and legs of an individual. They will then carry out the correct fitting and custom production of orthotics to fit the individual. This means that the orthotic device is tailored precisely to offer the necessary support and prevent further injury to ligaments, tendons and muscles in the foot, ankle and lower leg.
Orthotics devices offer people with impaired mobility, injury and congenital conditions the support needed to relieve pain and improve their quality of life. Through the use of these devices and with support from health care professionals, the individual can prevent further damage and help to address issues at developmental stage to prevent the escalation of a number of conditions.