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[Paramedicals] Orthotics – Are they really beneficial?

That depends.  Have you ever wondered why just about every practitioner who dispenses orthotics will recommend it to you, even when you haven’t requested it?

Firstly evaluate if you really need Orthotics.  There are many people who report that purchasing Orthotics actually made their condition worse, did nothing for their problem or created another problem.  The fact is that Orthotics affects your gait.  So while you are using Orthotics to correct a certain ailment, you are now changing your gait and that may alter your body mechanics in such a way as to cause a new set of ailments.

For common conditions such as plantar fasciitis (pain felt in heel by an inflamed ligament that connects your heel bone to toes) you could first try stretching the calve muscles and applying ice, twice daily.  A rapid way or reducing the inflammation and thus the pain is to freeze a plastic water bottle, and roll your painful heel over the bottle for 20 minutes, twice daily.  The ice aids in reducing the inflammation and the rolling action helps to loosen the fascia.  There are also supplements that you can take to reduce the inflammation naturally.  If you are a member of Beneplan, you can contact me for free for more information about supplements.

Orthotics is big business.  Service providers can purchase Orthotics at wholesale price for around $30.00 to $100.00, but what do they charge you?  That depends on whether you have a benefit plan or not.  We have seen invoices for custom-made orthotics as low as $100.00 and as high as $1,000.00 for the exact same product.  Sometimes consumers are misled to believe that they purchased custom-made orthotics when in fact they are a stock item, but at a high price.

Over the counter Orthotics work quite well for many people.  For example, Costco offers two pairs of over the counter Dr. Scholl’s orthotics for $59.99.  Costco provides a platform wherein you step onto the unit and follow the instructions noted thereon to ascertain the appropriate orthotics for your condition.  Several shoes stores now offer quality orthotics that you can purchase over the counter for a fraction of the price.

 

Our advice is that if Orthotics is recommended for medical reasons, you should negotiate the price with your service provider.  Some will not negotiate, and in that case take your business elsewhere.  Usually this will result in an affordable reduced price that is covered under your plan without you dipping into your own pocket for the balance.  It also drives the market price down for those who don’t have insurance plan coverage.

 

By Evelyne Mitskopoulos, CNP, Director of Wellness