There is a special need for orthotics for patients with arthritis. Depending on the patient’s needs, custom orthotics may help alleviate pain and discomfort in several ways including:

Shock Absorption

Generally, custom orthotics created for patients with arthritis are softer and made from different materials than other orthotics. This construction difference is designed to optimize shock absorption and decrease the shock going into the foot. Shock in the foot is something that aggravates pain in the affected area.
Orthotics for patients with arthritis are more likely to be accommodative orthotic – they are softer with a little more “give” in them. The more rigid orthotics tend not to absorb shock and pass it along to the sore joints in the foot. It is less of a functional orthotic – one that is to hold the arch or another area of the foot up.

Decreased Pressure on Sore Spots

If the patient’s foot has a sore spot, the custom orthotic may be created with an area of the orthotic dug out or “excavated” in the area (shown) where the foot is sore to decrease the pressure on the affected area.

Reduced Toe Joint Motion

If the arthritis is in the toe joints (metatarsal joints), a stiffer material may be put under those joints to stop them from bending or bending as much. If the motion in a joint can be slowed down or stopped, pain in that area can be reduced or eliminated. At the left is a photo of a device called a Morton’s Extension. A more rigid shell is placed on the orthotic and the piece at the toe stops the big toe from bending. If a person has arthritis in that joint, keeping that joint from moving will reduce or eliminate the pain when walking. This can be a carbon fibre plate that is put in the shoe or included in an orthotic
There are many options available to you if you have arthritis to help keep you more active and involved in healthy exercise. Contact your local pedorthist to see how custom orthotics might benefit you.
By Jim Pattison, C. Ped (C)