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Orthotics - leather or hard plastic??

Posted by Jan R. on 4/07/00 at 00:00 (018466)

I have had PF for over 3 years. I have had customed leather orthotics for 2 years. I started out with heel pain and with PT and orthotics, that pain eased considerably. But I have been suffering with arch pain in both feet for a year. I just went to my 2nd podiatrist today and he recommended replacing my 2 year old custom leather orthotics with a harder plastic type custom orthotics. He said the leather is easier to wear but wears out quicker and the hard plastic type although harder will last longer. HERE'S MY QUESTION -- does anyone have an opinion about the pros or cons of either the leather or the hard plastic? Although my insurance will pay 80% of the orthotics, are there other kinds of orthotics that are cheaper and just as good as customed-made? Thanks for you help.

Re: Orthotics - leather or hard plastic??

Ruth M on 4/08/00 at 00:00 (018473)

Posted above this is a description of ART and Dr. Joe Leahy, who I will refer to in this post.

After Joe fixed my foot, my podiatrist made me a pair of hard dress orthotics and took back my regular ones to have them re-covered. She told me to just wear the dress orthotics. Within 2 weeks something funny started happening to my foot and the PF started coming back. I went to see Joe Leahy and he said the calcaneous bone (the heel bone) had frozen in place. He knocked it lose and did ART on the PF. I asked him why it happened and he said he thought it was the result of the hard orthotics because the foot is locked into position and can't move I told this to my podiatrist and she replaced them with soft orthotics. Since then I have had no problems.


Re: Orthotics - leather or hard plastic??

Nancy S. on 4/08/00 at 00:00 (018475)

Very interesting, Ruth. I got the hard, rigid orthotics last September, and they relieved some of the pain in my PF foot but i could wear them for only about 2 hours at a time. Bought Birks in December, and I can wear them all day. On cold days I have at times gone back to the orthotics, but recently I noticed that I began to feel heel pain in my non-PF foot with the orthotics! Oh No! So I am giving them up completely. (The pain in my non-PF foot has not taken off -- I mean I don't feel it since stopping the orthotics.) The leather orthotics that I have seen other people wearing (I always ask for a look at other people's orthotics!) seem too flimsy to me, but if I were going to try others, it wouldn't be rigid ones anymore. Never heard of that 'locked' event -- but it doesn't sound good. --Nancy S.

Re: Orthotics - leather or hard plastic??

john h on 4/08/00 at 00:00 (018481)

just a personal opinion! when i first had foot problems my poditrist fitted me with $300 plastic orthotics , 3/4 length. it took some getting used to but i continued to run in them. after a year or so my feet developed full blown PF. i do not know if there is any correlation or not. another doctor recommended soft orthortics. i am now of the opinion to go to your local shoe stort (just for feet) and try some of there under $50 types. they have some htat are somewhat rigid with flexable graphite and some that are soft. you might even try to 2 piece birkenstock orthotic. in any event give those a try before going for the $300 babies.

Re: Orthotics - leather or hard plastic??

BJC on 4/08/00 at 00:00 (018487)

This has been an interesting subject, so I did an experiment yesterday. I've been wearing hard plastic orthotics for over a year without difficulty. Yesterday I decided to try the softer Spenco orthotics again. I had no difficulty with the right surgically repaired foot, but did have great difficulty with the left. I had more heel pain than ever, which did finally resolve somewhat after a few hours back in the hard orthotics. The theory behind the hard custom orthotics is that it positions your foot better while walking so the fascia is better protected/not torn. The softer orthotic will conform more to your foot and not provide that protection. What I found effective is using the hard orthotics in a well cushioned shoe (I wear Reebok DMX air sole walkers), which balances the hardness of the orthotics. As for 'freezing' the foot, I have full range of motion for walking and most activities. It would take a disease process or an ankle/foot orthosis (AFO) worn over an extended period of time to restrict motion to cause immobility. In the long run I would go with custom...everyone's foot is different, and in this case I do not believe one style fits all.

Re: Orthotics - leather or hard plastic??(long)

dfeet on 4/10/00 at 00:00 (018563)

I can only tell of my experience with the hard or rigid type of orthoics. My former Pod Rx'd the hard/rigid ones within five minutes of my initial exam. I was told that I had an alignment problem with overpronation, and he was surprised that I hadn't developed PF sooner, especially wwith how active I was at that time. I was told that they would require a 'break-in' period of about two weeks. Well, after four days of progressive,ie, a few hours a day and build up to all day, wear I began to develop a terrible burning, tingling in both of my ankles radiating into my arches and balls of my feet. I also developed a feeling that my toes would want to curl involuntarily and severe nig httime cramping which would wake me out of sleep. I called the office, and the pod's secretary stated she would speak to him. I called back after no response and got to speak with his assistant-she said that the type of orthotics required a 'break -in ' period, and despite my symptoms, to continue to wear them. She reassured me that it would get better. Things did not get better. Day five, I had bruising on my arches, and the other symptoms were even more pronounced ,and I was developing sciatic pain from my back.Day six, I went to the office, the pod injected me with cortisone, and re-impressed me for the semi-rigid/leather type. These proved to be a bit more comfortable, but unfortunately, I developed a second condition called Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome-a bummer. My current orthopedic surgeon suspects that the rigid orthotics could have contributed to the cause of the TTS. Of note, my current orthopod does not believe in orthotics at all, unless of course, one has a true alignment deformity-which I was misdiagnosed as having one. But now that I've been wearing the leather type, I cannot walk without them. (sorry this is so long, I'm 'venting')
Please, make certain that your pod has all the info about your condition. Pods make a hefty profit on orthotics, and there is not much research which proves them to be extremely effective. You may want to try the over the counter inserts before investing in the orthotics. But I am also an advocate that if something is working for you then go with it. I hope things work out for you.(Sorry about the long windedness!)-dfeet

Re: Orthotics - leather or hard plastic??

Ruth M on 4/08/00 at 00:00 (018473)

Posted above this is a description of ART and Dr. Joe Leahy, who I will refer to in this post.

After Joe fixed my foot, my podiatrist made me a pair of hard dress orthotics and took back my regular ones to have them re-covered. She told me to just wear the dress orthotics. Within 2 weeks something funny started happening to my foot and the PF started coming back. I went to see Joe Leahy and he said the calcaneous bone (the heel bone) had frozen in place. He knocked it lose and did ART on the PF. I asked him why it happened and he said he thought it was the result of the hard orthotics because the foot is locked into position and can't move I told this to my podiatrist and she replaced them with soft orthotics. Since then I have had no problems.


Re: Orthotics - leather or hard plastic??

Nancy S. on 4/08/00 at 00:00 (018475)

Very interesting, Ruth. I got the hard, rigid orthotics last September, and they relieved some of the pain in my PF foot but i could wear them for only about 2 hours at a time. Bought Birks in December, and I can wear them all day. On cold days I have at times gone back to the orthotics, but recently I noticed that I began to feel heel pain in my non-PF foot with the orthotics! Oh No! So I am giving them up completely. (The pain in my non-PF foot has not taken off -- I mean I don't feel it since stopping the orthotics.) The leather orthotics that I have seen other people wearing (I always ask for a look at other people's orthotics!) seem too flimsy to me, but if I were going to try others, it wouldn't be rigid ones anymore. Never heard of that 'locked' event -- but it doesn't sound good. --Nancy S.

Re: Orthotics - leather or hard plastic??

john h on 4/08/00 at 00:00 (018481)

just a personal opinion! when i first had foot problems my poditrist fitted me with $300 plastic orthotics , 3/4 length. it took some getting used to but i continued to run in them. after a year or so my feet developed full blown PF. i do not know if there is any correlation or not. another doctor recommended soft orthortics. i am now of the opinion to go to your local shoe stort (just for feet) and try some of there under $50 types. they have some htat are somewhat rigid with flexable graphite and some that are soft. you might even try to 2 piece birkenstock orthotic. in any event give those a try before going for the $300 babies.

Re: Orthotics - leather or hard plastic??

BJC on 4/08/00 at 00:00 (018487)

This has been an interesting subject, so I did an experiment yesterday. I've been wearing hard plastic orthotics for over a year without difficulty. Yesterday I decided to try the softer Spenco orthotics again. I had no difficulty with the right surgically repaired foot, but did have great difficulty with the left. I had more heel pain than ever, which did finally resolve somewhat after a few hours back in the hard orthotics. The theory behind the hard custom orthotics is that it positions your foot better while walking so the fascia is better protected/not torn. The softer orthotic will conform more to your foot and not provide that protection. What I found effective is using the hard orthotics in a well cushioned shoe (I wear Reebok DMX air sole walkers), which balances the hardness of the orthotics. As for 'freezing' the foot, I have full range of motion for walking and most activities. It would take a disease process or an ankle/foot orthosis (AFO) worn over an extended period of time to restrict motion to cause immobility. In the long run I would go with custom...everyone's foot is different, and in this case I do not believe one style fits all.

Re: Orthotics - leather or hard plastic??(long)

dfeet on 4/10/00 at 00:00 (018563)

I can only tell of my experience with the hard or rigid type of orthoics. My former Pod Rx'd the hard/rigid ones within five minutes of my initial exam. I was told that I had an alignment problem with overpronation, and he was surprised that I hadn't developed PF sooner, especially wwith how active I was at that time. I was told that they would require a 'break-in' period of about two weeks. Well, after four days of progressive,ie, a few hours a day and build up to all day, wear I began to develop a terrible burning, tingling in both of my ankles radiating into my arches and balls of my feet. I also developed a feeling that my toes would want to curl involuntarily and severe nig httime cramping which would wake me out of sleep. I called the office, and the pod's secretary stated she would speak to him. I called back after no response and got to speak with his assistant-she said that the type of orthotics required a 'break -in ' period, and despite my symptoms, to continue to wear them. She reassured me that it would get better. Things did not get better. Day five, I had bruising on my arches, and the other symptoms were even more pronounced ,and I was developing sciatic pain from my back.Day six, I went to the office, the pod injected me with cortisone, and re-impressed me for the semi-rigid/leather type. These proved to be a bit more comfortable, but unfortunately, I developed a second condition called Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome-a bummer. My current orthopedic surgeon suspects that the rigid orthotics could have contributed to the cause of the TTS. Of note, my current orthopod does not believe in orthotics at all, unless of course, one has a true alignment deformity-which I was misdiagnosed as having one. But now that I've been wearing the leather type, I cannot walk without them. (sorry this is so long, I'm 'venting')
Please, make certain that your pod has all the info about your condition. Pods make a hefty profit on orthotics, and there is not much research which proves them to be extremely effective. You may want to try the over the counter inserts before investing in the orthotics. But I am also an advocate that if something is working for you then go with it. I hope things work out for you.(Sorry about the long windedness!)-dfeet