If you have problems with foot pain, you may benefit from wearing orthotics or shoe inserts. There are different types to choose from depending on what's causing your pain. You can buy them off the shelf or have a pair custom-made by a podiatrist. Here's what you should know before you buy a pair.

Types of Orthotics

You may need to wear a heel cup or an insole. You may need arch supports or support for your toes. Orthotics come in a variety of shapes, and they are made from different materials such as plastic, foam, and gel. However, all orthotics fall into two general categories: functional and accommodative. Functional inserts offer support, and they are usually made of stiff material such as plastic. They help correct abnormal foot movement that contributes to your foot pain. Accommodative orthotics are designed to offer comfort and padding to sore areas of your feet.

Over-The-Counter Orthotics

If your foot pain is caused by standing on your feet all day at work, then you can probably get relief from shoe inserts you buy at the pharmacy. Gel or foam insoles provide cushioning and absorb shock, so your feet don't get as tired and sore. You may also get by with buying orthotics off the shelf if you have a condition that causes fairly mild pain, and you know what's causing your pain.

Be sure to read the label on the shoe insert to make sure it is designed to treat the foot condition you have. If you're uncertain about what's causing your foot pain, it's best to see a podiatrist for an examination first because wearing the wrong kind of shoe insert can make your pain worse.

Custom Orthotics

If you have severe or chronic foot pain, then getting custom orthotics from a podiatrist is probably the best choice. The doctor examines your condition and analyzes your gait to create an insert that perfectly fits the shape of your foot and provides support in the precise area you need it. You may need to buy orthopedic shoes for further stabilization of your feet and to provide adequate room for the inserts to fit in your shoes. Getting a good fit in your shoes is just as important as getting a good fit on your feet.

You may only need treatment for one foot or you may need it for both. If you have poor circulation and diminished feeling in your feet due to diabetes or another medical condition, it is even more important to work with a podiatrist to find inserts and shoes that support your feet and don't create sore spots.

Custom orthotics cost more than the kind you buy at a drugstore, but they are more effective, so they are usually worth the expense. Plus, if they are prescribed by your podiatrist to treat a medical condition, your insurance may help pay for them. For more information, check out http://www.footfirstpodiatrycl.com.