About Podiatric Medicine
A Podiatrist, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), is the only health care professional whose total training focuses on the foot, ankle and related body systems.
Podiatrists are defined as physicians by the federal government but the extent of privileges is dependent on provincial mandate.
Within the field of Podiatry, practitioners may focus on different specialities including surgery, sports medicine, biomechanics and orthotic therapy, paediatrics or general podiatry. Podiatrists can order all diagnostic tests and prescribe medications required to treat the foot and leg. This includes the diagnosis of general medical problems and surgical management of foot diseases, deformities, and trauma of the foot, ankle and related structures.
The podiatric physician cares for people of all ages. Common disorders of feet include bunions, heel pain/spurs, hammertoes, neuromas, ingrown toenails, warts, corns, calluses, sprains, fractures, infections, and injuries.
Custom foot orthotics are prescription medical devices made from non-weight bearing casts of your feet. They are designed to realign the foot and correct abnormal or irregular walking patterns. Orthotics accomplish this by making alterations in how the foot strikes the ground and supporting the foot through each step.
Custom orthotics are made and prescribed specifically for the individual based on podiatric examination of the feet, taking into account things such as foot type, mechanics, joint range of motion, muscle balance, deformity, and the use they are intended for. A cast is taken of the feet in the correct position and this cast is sent to a lab for fabrication with a prescription. The prescription is for type of orthotics, type of material, modification to accommodate and protect from deformity, and necessary corrections to the cast to facilitate efficient foot function and reduce stress on the feet while standing, walking, or running. Custom foot orthoses are not arch supports.
How do Custom Foot Orthotics work?
Many musculoskeletal issues are due to a misalignment between joints and their components: bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and fasciae. If one recognizes the foot as the foundation of the body then its dysfunction can result not only in foot problems such as bunions, hammer toes, arch and heel pain, corns but also in ankle, knee, hip or even back pain. Orthotics realign the structures of the foot and leg to reduce or prevent joint mal-alignment and relieve undue stress and fatigue on the related muscles, tendons, and ligaments. With improved function, pain is relieved, and the progression of deformities is stopped or slowed.
Production of Custom Orthotics
Proper production of custom orthotics is an exacting process and determines whether or not you receive quality devices that will best treat your condition. The ability of an orthotic device to eliminate your pain is dependent on the quality of the orthotics. The quality of the orthotics is dependent on five primary steps:
- The examination (including joint alignments and range of motions, deformities, stance and gait analysis but most importantly diagnosis)
- The cast of your feet
- The doctor’s prescription
- The work of the orthotic lab in producing your orthotic
- Follow –up: If you have a problem with orthotic fit, function, comfort, shoe fit or any other issue, your doctor must be able to diagnose and correct these concerns. We routinely follow up one month after dispensing the devices.