Oftentimes we have patients with certain foot problems who initially tried to get help through a specialty shoe or insert store. They may have seen a display or scanner at the local supermarket or expensive shoe store and received a pair of “customized orthotics” which may not be helping the problem. They may also be confused with the different types of shoes available. Do they need something for motion control?
Shoe stores are helpful for healthy athletes who wish to improve performance. They may also stock shoes and inserts that increase a person’s comfort, and help customers to choose popular brands. But when there is pain or pathology, a salesperson at a shoe store may not be enough to assess and treat a medical or surgical condition. A podiatrist, who is a physician and surgeon of the foot and ankle, may need to be consulted.
Shoe stores often produce or sell expensive inserts claiming to correct for a condition. Podiatrists can assess the condition to confirm whether the insert is good for the condition, or recommend an alternative. Perhaps a less expensive over-the-counter alternative may solve the problem, or perhaps a custom-molded pair of functional orthotics made by the podiatrist may be covered by insurance to treat the problem. Orthotics are a lot like eyeglasses. Over-the-counter reading glasses are available at the drugstore, or prescription glasses are available through the optometrist or ophthalmologist.
If there is pain in the feet or if the patient is diabetic, podiatrists can also recommend appropriate shoes. They may dispense or prescribe special shoes for patients with deformities or those who need protective accommodative inserts.
Is the foot condition beyond the insert kiosk or shoe salesperson? It is time to consult the podiatrist.