Frequently Asked Prosthetic & Orthotic Questions

What is an orthotic?

Ann orthotic is an orthopedic device designed to correct abnormal alignment of the foot in order to improve gait, balance and overall function.  By correctly aligning your skeletal frame they also help to alleviate pain that was caused by the misalignment. Orthotics are also commonly referred to as orthotic insoles, shoe inserts or orthoses.

Who needs orthotics?

Since the majority of the public suffers from some degree of structural misalignment of the foot and/or leg almost anyone can benefit from a properly fitted orthoses. If you are currently experiencing pain in your foot, leg, knee, hip, or back after being on your feet then you may benefit from an orthotic.  People with lower leg tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, ilio-tibial band syndrome and runners knee have all found relief with orthotics.

When I get my new orthotics can I wear them all the time?

It’s a good idea to start with shorter spans of time and gradually increase.  The orthotic will properly align your foot and leg, since your body has been compensating for the misalignment for some time correcting it will place pressure and cause exertion on new areas of your muscles and they will need some time to adjust.   A good rule of thumb is to start by wearing your new orthotics for one hour on the first day and then increase the time by one hour per day until you can wear them all day.  This allows your body to adjust gradually and greatly reduces the likelihood of muscle aches during the transition period.

Do I need to wear different orthotics for regular activities and exercising?

Most orthotics are suitable for a variety of activities with the exception of high impact sports.  Sports like aerobics, tennis, running and basketball exert a lot of pressure on your frame making a specialized orthotic that is designed for high impact activities more appropriate.  You may speak with one of our specialists at a Michigan location to determine if a general sports orthotic or specialized orthotic would be more appropriate for you.

Will wearing orthotics improve my athletic performance?

Orthotics can improve your performance in sports by alleviating aches and pains and making your body more efficient by allowing it to function optimally and removing the need to compensate for structural misalignment.

How long do I have to wear the orthotic before I start to benefit from it?
Do to the proper alignment of you foot and gait you will begin to benefit from the orthotic immediately, but because you muscles may need to be “retrained” to support your frame properly you may experience some aches for a couple of weeks before you begin to feel a marked improvement.

When should I wear my orthotics?

Anytime you are “on your feet” you can benefit from the proper structural alignment.  Of course if you are on your feet for long periods or participating in high impact activities like playing tennis then orthotics become even more important.  Sports orthotics can be worn during normal daily activities as well but they do tend to be stiffer and bulkier because they are designed to absorb additional impact. For best results you can invest in a thinner “daily” foot orthoses that will easily fit in a variety of shoes and then get a sports orthotic as well so that you are not placing unnecessary stress on your body at any time.

Do you have an office where I can receive a consultation?

Yes, Teter Orthotics and Prosthetics has several Michigan locations including Traverse City, Petoskey, Grand Rapids, Big Rapids, Alpena, Cadillac, Alma, Cheboygan, Fremont, Gaylord, Grayling, Greenville, Houghton Lake, Kalamazoo, Ludington, Manistee, Sault St. Marie, St. Ignace

Will they fit in all of my shoes?

This depends on your specific custom orthotic and the shoes you currently wear.  Depending on your needs your orthotic may vary in size and flexibility. During your consultation ask your orthotist what shoes you will be able to wear with your foot orthoses or simply bring the shoes you would like to wear to your consultation appointment.

Will my insurance cover orthotics?

Many insurance policies are now paying for custom foot orthotics, since policies vary it is best that you check with your insurance carrier or this can be done at your consultation with any Teter Orthotics & Prosthetics office.  Most insurance carriers will require a referral or a prescription with diagnosis from your doctor.

Are prescription and over the counter orthotics the same?

No, prescription orthotics are created from a mold or impression of your feet. You cannot wear someone else’s prescription orthotic even if you have the same size foot.  On the other hand over the counter shoe insoles are a prefabricated arch support that is designed to fit what is considered an average foot.

Will orthotics “fix” my problem over time?

Orthotics will usually correct the misalignment of your foot and/or leg immediately when worn. Any permanent changes to the alignment of your foot and or skeleton will happen over time.  For the optimal results it is better to begin treatment of biomechanical problems earlier than later. If the problems with your feet are not caught in time results will vary or be of limited success.

What’s the difference between orthotics and regular insoles?

The standard insole that came with your shoes are only designed to provide cushion to the ball and heel of your foot, orthotics are designed to cushion as well as correct and support the arch(s) and the alignment of the foot and or leg.

What’s the difference between an orthosis and a prosthetic?

An orthotic is meant to work with the existing part of the body to correct a deformity, while a prosthetic replaces a missing body part.

If you have additional questions about orthotics please feel free to contact one of our specialists at a Michigan Teter Orthotics and Prosthetics location near you.

Will the prosthesis let me do everything I was able to before?

Your prosthesis will not be as capable as a natural limb but they will allow you to regain much of the function you have lost.  The limitations of you prosthesis depend on the type of prosthesis you receive and your personal health and abilities. Your doctor, physical therapist and prosthetist will all work to ensure you get the most from your prosthesis.

How will the limb stay on?

There are different methods for attaching prosthetics, some use suction with a suspension sleeve, while others use straps or a pin mechanism attached to a roll-on liner.  You can discuss the options in detail with your prosthetist.

How can I prepare for my first prosthesis?

Exercise is a very important part of preparing for your first prosthesis.  The stronger and more flexible you are the easier it will be to maneuver your new prosthetic when you receive it.  Your physical therapist can help you by teaching you some exercises designed to address your unique needs. You can even begin isometric strength training while you are on bed rest and then graduate to a wide variety of exercises as you heal.
After your sutures have been removed and primary wound healing has occurred you can also begin making efforts to desensitize your residual limb to prepare it for continual contact with the prosthetic.  Gently massaging the stump of your residual limb is a great way to do this. For other recommendations on how to desensitize your residual limb consult your physician.

Will it hurt to walk using a prosthetic leg?

Once your stump, or residual limb as it is often referred to, has healed, and as long as your residual limb was properly wrapped and shrunken you should be able to use your prosthetic leg with little to no pain. You may feel some pressure but pain should be at a minimum. Your prosthetist will create a schedule for using your new prosthetic leg that will allow your residual limb to adjust gradually, avoiding any pain.  If you do feel pain while wearing your prosthetic leg you should notify your prosthetist right away.

How long will it take to get my prosthetic limb after the amputation?

You will be fit for your first temporary prosthetic limb after your surgical wounds have healed and the swelling in your residual limb has been minimized.  Most people are fit for their first  “ temporary prosthesis” or “test socket” by 6-8 weeks post surgery, but it could be sooner or later depending on how quickly you heal.

Will my prosthesis be covered by insurance?

Most insurance policies will cover prosthetic limbs when you receive a prescription from your doctor.  Check your policy to be sure.

How long will the prosthesis last?

Depending on the specific limb and use, the lifetime will vary, but it’s typically 3-5 years. However, during your first year of recovery after amputation it is not uncommon to have parts of your  “temporary prosthesis” replaced from time to time, namely the portion of the prosthetic limb that surrounds your residual limb, commonly referred to as the “socket”.  As your limb changes during the first year the socket may be replaced several times. This is a normal part of the healing process and commonly referred to as  “limb maturation”.

Can I swim or shower with my prosthesis?

Not unless your prosthesis was specifically designed to be used in water. Most standard prosthesis cannot be worn swimming or in the shower.  However there are prosthetic limbs that can be worn in the water.  Make sure to discuss this with your Teter prosthetist as these types of requests are commonly accommodated.