Foot orthoses is comprised of a specially fitted insert or footbed to a shoe. Also commonly referred to as “Orthotics” these orthoses provide support for the foot by distributing pressure or realigning foot joints while standing, walking or running. As such they are often used by athletes to relieve symptoms of a variety of soft tissue inflammatory conditions like plantar fasciitis. They may also be used in conjunction with properly fitted orthopedic footwear in the prevention of foot ulcers in the at risk diabetic foot. Prescription foot orthoses also help prevent future problems from occurring in the foot and lower extremity by reducing abnormal or pathological forces acting on the foot and lower extremity. Doctors prescribe two main types of prescription foot orthoses for their patients, accommodative orthoses and functional foot orthoses. Both types of prescription foot orthoses are used to correct the foot position of the patient so that the pain in their foot or lower extremity will improve so that normal activities can be resumed without pain.
An ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) is an orthosis or brace (usually plastic) that surrounds the ankle and at least part of the foot. AFOs are externally applied and intended to control position and motion of the ankle, compensate for weakness, or correct deformities. They control the ankle directly, and can be designed to control the knee joint indirectly as well. AFOs are commonly used in the treatment of disorders affecting muscle function such as stroke, spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, polio, multiple sclerosis and peripheral neuropathy. They are also used to immobilize the ankle and lower leg in the presence of arthritis or fracture, and to correct foot drop.