Most pharmacies sell several types of orthotic inserts for shoes. With these so widely available and at such fair price points, you may wonder why anyone ever goes through the hassle and expense of having orthotics custom-made. Here's the bottom line: many people do not need custom-made orthotics and will benefit greatly from the ones sold at the local drugstore. However, if any of the following aspects are true of your situation, you may find that custom orthotics are worthwhile.
1. You have a serious foot condition that needs surgery.
Maybe you have bunions that have grown so serious you're considering surgery. Or perhaps your plantar fasciitis is so bad you can barely walk. If whatever foot condition you're suffering from could be classified as severe and may require you to have surgery down the road, then it's a good idea to have custom orthotics made. You can't afford to deal with an orthotic that almost fits, but not quite. If you want to decrease your chances of having surgery as your only possible solution, then you want to have the best of the best.
2. You have really small feet.
Most orthotics sold at pharmacies can be trimmed down to fit inside your shoes. But if you have really small feet, you may not be able to adequately trim them without cutting into the therapeutic, shaped part of the orthotic. Rather than cutting where you shouldn't and then wearing orthotics that don't really do their job, you're best off having custom ones made. A podiatrist or orthopedic doctor can measure your foot and have them made specifically to your size.
3. You have really large feet.
If your feet are really big, you may have the opposite problem as a small-footed person. Your orthotics may move and wiggle around in your shoe too much, eventually leading to blisters and soreness. Your doctor can have a set made that fits snugly inside your shoes without moving.
4. You think pharmacy orthotics are making things worse.
If you buy some over-the-counter orthotics, wear them for a while, but find that your pain is getting worse, it's smart to seek professional help. You may have different foot problems than you assumed you had, which led you to choose the wrong ones. Your doctor can give you a proper diagnosis and then have orthotics made that really will work.
Not everyone needs custom orthotics, but they certainly have their place.