Frequently Asked Prosthetic & Orthotic Questions

What is an orthotic?

An orthotic is a support, brace, or splint that is used and designed to correct abnormal alignment of the foot in order to improve balance and overall function. By correctly aligning the skeletal frame they also help to alleviate pain that was caused by the misalignment. Other orthotics includes neck braces, lumbosacral supports, wrist supports, and knee braces.

Who needs orthotics?

Since the majority of the population suffer from some degree of structural misalignment almost anyone can benefit from a properly fitted orthotic.  For those currently experiencing pain in the foot, leg, knee, hip, or back after being on your feet for any extended period of time may benefit from an orthotic.  Anyone with lower arch pain, tendonitis, hammer toe, knee, hip, lower back pain, plantar fasciitis, and runners knee have all found relief with orthotics.

When getting new orthotics can they be worn all the time?

A good rule of thumb is to start by wearing the new orthotics for one hour on the first day and increase the time by one hour per day until they can be worn all day.  This will allow the body to adjust gradually and reduces the likelihood of muscle aches during the transition period.

How long does an orthotic have to be worn before seeing a benefit from it?

Do to the proper alignment of the foot there should be benefit from the orthotic immediately, but because muscles may need to be “retrained” to support the body frame properly people may experience some aches for a couple of weeks before feeling marked improvement.

Will orthotics “fix” the problem over time?

Orthotics will usually correct the misalignment of the foot and/or leg immediately when worn. Any permanent changes to the alignment of the foot and or skeleton will happen over time.  For the optimal results it is better to begin treatment of biomechanical problems earlier than later. If the problems with someone’s feet are not started early enough, results will vary and may not be successful.

Are different orthotics needed for sports?

Most orthotics will be suitable for a variety of activities with the exception of high impact sports. Sports like soccer, skaters, cyclist, aerobics, tennis, running football and basketball exert a lot of pressure on your frame making a specialized orthotic that is designed for high impact activities more appropriate. Speak with one of our specialists to determine if a general sports orthotic or specialized orthotic would be more appropriate.

When should I wear orthotics?

Anyone that is “on their feet” for any extended period of time can benefit from orthotic.  Or if participating in high impact activities like playing tennis then orthotics become even more important.  Sports orthotics can be worn during normal daily activities as well but they do tend to be stiffer and bulkier because they are designed to absorb additional impact.  For best results an investment in a thinner “daily” foot orthotic that will easily fit in a variety of shoes and then getting a sports orthotic as well so that way there is no placing unnecessary stress on the body at any time.

Will wearing orthotics improve athletic performance?

Slight imbalances can be dangerous or undetectable under everyday circumstances and could render someone vulnerable to injury with the extra stress of sports activity.  By eliminating the need for the muscles to compensate for these “undetected” imbalances, orthotics can help reduce fatigue and promote the kind of efficient muscle memory that’s crucial to outstanding performance.

Will they fit in all of my shoes?

This depends on the specific custom orthotic and the shoes that currently being worn. Depending on each person’s needs the orthotic may vary in size and flexibility.  During the consultation ask the orthotist what shoes would be able to be worn with the foot orthoses or simply bring the shoes that would like to be worn to the consultation.

Will my insurance cover orthotics?

Many insurance policies are now paying for custom foot orthotics, since policies vary it is best to check with each insurance carrier or this can be done at the consultation.  Most insurance carriers will require a referral or a prescription with diagnosis from the patient’s primary care doctor.

Are prescription and over the counter orthotics the same?

Prescription orthotics are created from a mold or impression of each individual foot.  Other people cannot wear someone else’s prescription orthotic even if they have the same size feet.  On the other hand over the counter shoe insoles are a prefabricated arch support that is designed to fit what is considered an average foot.

What’s the difference between orthotics and regular insoles?

The standard insole that comes with shoes is only designed to provide cushion to the ball and heel of the foot, orthotics are designed to cushion as well as correct and support the arch(s) and the alignment of the foot and or leg.  Do not go barefoot, especially on hard surfaces.  After a period of time as the foot feels better, wearing other shoes without the orthotics for special events is possible.  Each person will discover their tolerance for going without their orthotic over time.

What’s the difference between an orthosis and a prosthetic?

An orthotic is a device that is meant to work with the existing part of the body to correct a deformity. A prosthetic is a device that replaces a part of the body that may be missing.

Will the prosthesis let me do everything I was able to before?

The prosthesis will not be as capable as a natural limb but it will help people to regain much of the function that may have been lost.  The limitations of the prosthesis depend on the type of prosthesis received and each individual’s personal health and abilities.  A doctor, physical therapist and prosthetist will all work to ensure each person gets the most from their prosthesis.

How will the limb stay on?

There are different methods for attaching prosthetics, some use suction with a suspension sleeve, while others use straps or a pin mechanism attached to a roll-on liner. These options can be discussed in detail with your prosthetist.

How can someone prepare for their first prosthesis?

Exercise is a very important part of preparing the body for the first prosthesis. The stronger and more flexible someone is, the easier it will be to maneuver a new prosthetic when it is received. A physical therapist can help by teaching some exercises designed to address each individual’s unique needs.  Some even begin isometric strength training while on bed rest and then graduate to a wide variety of exercises as healing.

After sutures have been removed and primary wound healing has occurred then begins the process of making efforts to desensitize the residual limb to prepare it for continual contact with the prosthetic.  Gently massaging the stump of the residual limb is a great way to do this.  For other recommendations on how to desensitize the residual limb please consult with a physician.

Will it hurt to walk using a prosthetic leg?

Once the residual limb, has healed, and as long as the residual limb was properly wrapped and shrunken the prosthetic leg should be able to be used with little to no pain.  There may be some pressure but pain should be minimal. The prosthetist will create a schedule for using the new prosthetic leg that will allow the residual limb to adjust gradually, avoiding any pain.  If there is pain while wearing the prosthetic legs notify the prosthetist right away.

How long will it take to get my prosthetic limb after the amputation?

There will be a fitting for the first temporary prosthetic limb after the surgical wounds have healed and the swelling in the residual limb has been minimized. Most people are fit for their first “temporary prosthesis” or “test socket” by 6-8 weeks post-surgery, but it could be sooner or later depending on how quickly healing occurs.

Will my prosthesis be covered by insurance?

Most insurance policies will cover prosthetic limbs when a prescription is received from the primary care doctor.  Since policies vary it is best to check with each insurance carrier or this can be done at the consultation.

How long will the prosthesis last?

Depending on the specific limb and use, the lifetime will vary; however it is typically 3-5 years. During the first year of recovery after amputation it is not uncommon to have parts of the “temporary prosthesis” replaced from time to time, namely the portion of the prosthetic limb that surrounds the residual limb. This is commonly referred to as the “socket”.  As each person’s limb changes during the first year the socket may be replaced several times.  This is a normal part of the healing process and commonly referred to as “limb maturation”.

Can I swim or shower with my prosthesis?

Not unless the prosthesis was specifically designed to be used in the water.  Most standard prosthesis cannot be worn swimming or in the shower.  There are prosthetic limbs that can be worn in the water.  Make sure to discuss this with the prosthetist as these types of requests are easily accommodated.

Do you have an office where I can receive a consultation?

Yes, Oakland Orthopedic Appliances has several Michigan locations Bay City, Midland, Mt. Pleasant, and Saginaw.

Oakland Orthopedic Appliance, Inc.

Oakland Orthopedic Appliances, Inc. has convenient locations in the Bay City, Midland, Mt. Pleasant, and Saginaw areas.

Contact one of our offices today for all your orthotic/prosthetic needs.

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Oakland Orthopedic Appliance, Inc - Bay City, Midland, Mt. Pleasant, and Saginaw

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