Orthotic Insoles vs. Custom Insoles

Which One Provides Better Foot Pain Relief?

If you’ve had chronic or consistent foot pain that just won’t quit, you’ve probably asked yourself what type of insole you should try. When it comes down to custom insoles or over-the-counter orthotic insoles, there’s wide debate over which one provides more relief.

On one hand, overall sales for prescription, or custom insoles, is at $180 million, up from $130 million in 2000. Increased sales means custom insoles work, right? Well, not necessarily. On the flip side, consumers spent an estimated $4.7 billion in 2015 on over-the-counter orthotics in the United States. While sales are increasing for both, there is also conflicting research on how well both types of insoles perform.

A 2014 study in Musculoskeletal Care found nonprescription, orthotic insoles to be just as helpful or nearly as helpful as custom insoles in reducing pain and disability. In an older study by the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, participants found no significant difference in the effectiveness of custom insoles versus orthotic, over-the-counter insoles.

So if more people are buying both custom and orthotic insoles, and research doesn’t show significant results one way or another, which one should you really go with? The answer really comes down to your own feet and what works best for you. To get started, let’s take a deeper look at custom insoles versus orthotic insoles.

Custom Insoles

Custom insoles are prescribed by a doctor or podiatrist and are designed to fit your specific foot and gait. This requires a thorough examination and analysis of your foot, followed by a cast or digital scan of the shape and size of your foot.

  • Custom insoles are typically for more serious, chronic foot pain.
  • They are ideal for those who suffer from diabetes and have serious foot abnormalities.
  • Custom insoles are made specifically to target your condition and provide personalized support and cushioning.
  • Custom insoles tend to cost hundreds of dollars to purchase, ranging anywhere from $300-$800

Over-the-Counter Orthotic Insoles

Unlike custom insoles, orthotic insoles can be bought over-the-counter at drug stores or running shops.

  • Orthotic insoles are already designed and are not made strictly for your foot alone.
  • Since these are meant to work for all foot types, orthotic insoles are made from softer and more accommodating material compared to the materials used for custom insoles.
  • Orthotic insoles are significantly less expensive than custom insoles, which require examinations and digital scans of your foot.

As a rule of thumb, consider the severity of your foot condition. If you’re dealing with a serious, ongoing condition or foot abnormality that would require surgery to correct, visit a podiatrist and consider purchasing a pair of custom insoles. For more common ailments like Plantar Fasciitis, consider trying orthotic insoles like Powerstep orthotics insoles.

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