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Custom or Over-the-Counter Shoe Inserts: Which are Right for You?

If you’re considering shoe inserts, or orthotics, then you are more than likely experiencing foot pain. Your current shoes must not be offering the support you need in order to live pain free. Think about it – your feet support your entire body and with continuous stress, it’s important to recognize that having the extra support can help provide comfort and even alleviate symptoms from a variety of foot conditions and back pain.

However, before you make a quick decision, it’s essential you understand the differences between over-the-counter and custom orthotics. You will also want to talk to the podiatrists at Dallas Podiatry Works about which options are right for you. You want to make the best informed decision about your foot health.


Many over-the-counter shoe inserts can be purchased in retail, or shoe stores, and do not have to be prescribed by a doctor. They are inserted in the appropriate shoe, or shoes, and help support and relieve foot pain. Some common foot ailments over-the-counter shoe inserts help with include simple foot and leg pain. The types of over-the-counter shoe inserts you can get include arch supports, insoles, heel liners and foot cushions. Sure, over-the-counter shoe inserts can provide comfort and support, but they are not a long-term fix.

The good about over-the-counter shoe inserts:

  • They are fitted by shoe size
  • It’s a lower cost for materials to make the inserts
  • They can be replaced easily


The not-so-good about over-the-counter shoe inserts:

  • They are fitted by shoe size, which may be problem for people that don’t have correctly fitted shoes.
  • They are harder to modify to truly support and stabilize your foot and ankle

Custom Orthotics

Custom or Over-the-Counter: Shoe InsertsCustom orthotics are specifically made for your feet and can provide support, stabilization and comfort. They are made so they match the contours of your feet and are designed for the way you move. Some common foot ailments custom orthotics helps with include plantar fasciitis, bursitis, tendonitis, diabetic foot ulcers, foot and ankle, and heel pain. There are two types of custom orthotics you can get, which include functional and accommodative. Functional orthotics control abnormal motion and can be used to treat conditions such as shin splints or tendonitis. They are made from plastic or graphite. Accommodative orthotics provides additional cushioning and support, and are used to treat diabetic foot ulcers and calluses. Custom orthotics can only be made or prescribed by a podiatrist after they have conducted an evaluation.

The good about custom-made orthotics:

  • They are custom made for your feet only
  • They are individualized for your biomechanical faults
  • They will help with foot pain
  • They will help with ankle stabilization
  • They can stop lower back pain
  • The can help with balance issues

The not-so-good about custom-made orthotics:

  • They have to be fitted by a professional – but you receive the correct product for your feet – no guesswork while you stand in the aisle.
  • It’s time consuming to make them as they have to be made by a professional – we recommend more than one pair of orthotics so that you never have to wait for them.
  • They are more expensive to make than over-the-counter inserts, but they last longer.


If you have any questions about over-the-counter shoe inserts, or custom-made orthotics, please set up an appointment with Dallas Podiatry Works. They will listen to your concerns, examine your feet and shoes, and also provide any additional information you may need.

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