Foot arthritis presents in different ways depending on the joints that are affected and the severity of the condition. You might find it painful to walk, wear shoes, or engage in sports. Your doctor may try different treatments to relieve your pain and postpone surgery. For instance, orthotics might be recommended. Here's how they work to help your foot arthritis.

Orthotics Help With Pain

There are different kinds of shoe inserts your doctor can recommend. Some are intended to help with pain. These are often cushioned to protect joints in your heel, toes, or ankle. Since your feet are under a lot of pressure when you walk, wearing cushioning in your shoes can help absorb some of the impact and reduce stress on your joints.

Orthotics Reposition Your Feet

Another purpose for orthotics is to hold your feet in the proper alignment. By wearing the inserts in your shoes, your feet are stabilized to reduce ankle rolling or to reposition a toe. When your feet and toes are aligned properly, the weight is distributed properly across the structures of your feet when you walk. This can reduce strain on your joints that increases foot pain. Wearing this type of shoe insert might even help with back or hip pain.

Some inserts are padded or have a gel interior for comfort, while others are made of stiff material that holds your feet in place. Inserts are also made in different shapes so your doctor can choose the best design for the location of your arthritis pain.

Orthotics Treat Your Unique Problems

If you have mild arthritis, your doctor might recommend buying specific types of over-the-counter shoe inserts or ankle braces. When your condition is more advanced, or if you have a long-standing gait problem, you could need custom shoe inserts.

Your doctor may first analyze your gait with computer imaging. Then, they can make a digital mold of your feet or make a physical impression of your feet to create a mold for the creation of your custom orthotics. While they cost more, the custom version fits your feet exactly for the best comfort and to provide precise pain relief and correction for joint and gait problems.

You may find that orthotics — along with other treatments, such as physical therapy and medications — manage your foot arthritis so you can slow down the damage to your joints, improve mobility, and control pain for a better quality of life. Surgery is sometimes needed for foot or ankle arthritis, but you might be able to delay or avoid it if less invasive treatments, such as wearing orthotics, helps your condition.

For more information on orthotics, contact your doctor.