By: Alexandra (Dax) Hooper CPed(c)
When weighting the option between Custom Orthoses vs a pair of Store Bought Insoles there are many avenues to consider.
Firstly is knowing how each device is defined is important. Store Bought Insoles or Over the Counter Foot Orthoses, are defined as mass-produced devices that are not unique to the patient. PAC Website, Pedorthic Terminology 2011. Where as The Pedorthic Association of Canada defines a custom foot orthoses as “an internal foot appliance which is manufactured from a three dimensional image of the foot, and made from raw materials. A custom foot orthoses can accommodate bony deformities, and/or modify the movement pattern of the foot and lower limb.” (Pedorthic Association of Canada, Pedorthic Terminology, 2003)
It is very important to note that although SBOI’s can be heat-moldable and modifications can be applied to the existing insole is possible, i.e., additions of metatarsal pads and posting, a SBI can never be classified as a “Custom Device” because the device is not made from a negative cast capturing the exact 3 dimensional shape of the patient’s foot. Therefore most insurance companies do not cover SBI’s.
There are many basic differences between Store Bought Insoles (SBI) and Custom Fit Orthoses (CFO) with advantages and disadvantages that go along with that!
STORE BOUGHT INSOLES:
SBI products tend to be made with more cushioned materials
SBI products can provide some biomechanical or motion control (see point 4 in summary for definition) but due to their material cushioned properties the support is minimal. What the patients needs are will determine if Store Bought Insoles will have sufficient control.
SBIs are usually shaped for a “general” or “average” foot shape, though some are heat moldable.
Tend to be less expensive
CUSTOM FOOT ORTHOSES:
CFOs provide more material options for rigid or semi rigid shells, top covers, etc.
CFOs provide more biomechanical or motion control (see point 4 in summary for definition). A more functional and supportive orthoses can be made for the patient depending what the patient needs.
CFO products are made from a direct 3D cast of a patient’s foot using either a foam box cast, plaster cast, or computerized casting methods. By directly casting the patients foot it allows the provider to capture the most desired position of the patients foot, reflect the anatomy of the foot, and establish a good starting point for the fabrication of the CFO.
Tend to be more expensive
Lifespan 1-2 years depending on amount of daily use. Although the cost of an orthotic appears substantially more than store bought orthoses the replacement needs are much less in the run of a year or two.
In Summary Key Factors to Consider SBI vs CFO