Services and Specialties


The term orthotics, also known as orthoses, refers to any device inserted into a shoe that corrects abnormal or irregular walking patterns. Sometimes called arch supports, and ranging from felt pads to custom-made inserts, orthotics allow people to stand, walk and run more efficiently and comfortably. While over-the-counter orthotics are available and may help people who have mild symptoms, they cannot correct the wide range of symptoms that prescription foot orthoses can, since they are not custom made to fit an individual’s unique foot structure.

SEFA podiatrists have extensive experience in determining when a patient can benefit from an orthotic device, and in making an appropriate, custom-fitting aid to return the foot to full function.

Orthotic devices come in many shapes, sizes and materials and fall into three main categories: those designed to alter foot function, those that are primarily protective in nature and those that combine functional control and protection.

Rigid orthotics

Rigid orthotic devices are designed to control function and are primarily for walking or dress shoes. They are often composed of firm materials, such as plastic or carbon fiber, and are molded from a plaster cast the podiatrist makes of the patient’s foot. Rigid orthotics control motion and may improve or eliminate strains, aches and pain in the feet, legs, thighs and low back.

Soft orthotics

Soft orthotics are generally used to absorb shock, improve balance and alleviate pressure from painful areas. They are usually effective for diabetic, arthritic and deformed feet. Like rigid orthotics, soft orthotics are made from a mold based on a plaster cast of the patients foot, but they are fabricated softer, cushioning materials.

Semi-rigid orthotics

Semi-rigid orthotics provide foot balance for walking or participating in sports. The typical model is made up of layers of soft materials reinforced with more rigid materials. These devices can help athletes alleviate pain while they train and compete. Semi-rigid orthotics are also often prescribed for children to treat flat feet as well as in-toeing and out-toeing disorders.

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