What Do Custom Foot Orthotics Help With?

What Do Custom Foot Orthotics Help With?

Custom foot orthotics are widely used by our Hong Kong podiatrists to help with managing a range of foot and leg pains and problems. Each pair of orthotic insoles is prescribed using decades of knowledge and experience in the field, making them as unique and beneficial for your feet as prescription glasses are for your eyes.

What Are Foot Orthotics?

Also known as insoles and shoe inserts, foot orthotics replace your regular shoe liner to give you optimum control and support for your lower limbs, depending on the goal of your orthotics. We refer to them as custom foot orthotics because each pair is prescribed specifically for you by your podiatrist, after a comprehensive assessment. This assessment will determine the best features for your orthotics that will work to help manage your foot and leg problems, as well as optimise your day-to-day movement. Some people also get custom foot orthotics to optimise their sports performance and give them a competitive edge.

What Can Foot Orthotics Help With?

As orthotics are prescribed with a wide range of features based on the problems you’re experiencing and unique foot characteristics, orthotics can be made to help with a wide range of conditions and injuries, including:

Morton’s Neuroma

A Morton’s neuroma is the painful, palpable mass produced when part of the tissue that surrounds a nerve in the foot becomes inflamed. As our nerves are responsible for our ability to feel, a neuroma can have a range of symptoms in the area, including tingling, burning and numbness. A Morton’s neuroma most commonly occurs between the long bones (metatarsals) of the 3rd and 4th toes in the foot but can occur between any of the toes. Orthotics can help by offloading the area of the neuroma, allowing the pressure to be alleviated away from the neuroma during walking so you can stay comfortable on your feet throughout the day.


Metatarsalgia is the general term used to describe pain present beneath the ball of the foot, with the most common cause of this pain being overloading the area. Orthotics can be prescribed to alter the weight and pressure distribution throughout the feet with every step, preventing the painful area from continually being overloaded. This means that your injury is best supported for healing and repair, and ultimately a full recovery from your symptoms.

Heel And Arch Pain

One of the most common causes of heel pain that our podiatrists see and treat is plantar fasciitis, which causes pain on the bottom and inside of the heel that can radiate into the arch. This pain tends to be worse in the first few steps in the morning (or when standing after rest), and eases as you continue to walk and “warm up” the feet. Custom foot orthotics are a first line treatment for plantar fasciitis heel pain, as they help adequately support the arch and align the heel to offload and reduce strain off the plantar fascia. This not only helps to relieve symptoms but also supports an optimal recovery while you’re active on your feet.

Ankle Pain

Ankle pain can have a variety of causes, from simple ankle sprains to ongoing ankle instability or impingement syndromes around the ankle joint. Orthotics can be designed to support each of these causes (and many more) by helping stabilise the heel, widen joint spaces to prevent the compression and irritation of anatomical structures within that joint space - and various other supportive features that your podiatrist can prescribe.


Arthritis can cause much pain and discomfort through the joints of the feet, regardless of whether it’s from a wear and tear type arthritis like osteoarthritis, or from an inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis or gout. This is where orthotics can also be designed to accommodate any stiff or prominent joints, or any other changes caused by arthritis to keep you as mobile, stable and confident on your feet as possible.

Interestingly, studies have shown that incorporating special features and specific heel angling into foot orthotics can also help alleviate the discomfort associated with knee osteoarthritis of the inner knee.

Turf Toe

Being the common term for spraining your big toe, turf toe typically occurs when your big toe is suddenly thrust upwards, causing damage to the ligaments surrounding the big toe. Just like how we prescribe the orthotic features around the heel and arch, our podiatrists have full control over how the forefoot area of the orthotic will function and design your orthotics to best support the forefoot in healing, repair and your long-term comfort on your feet. As a side note, turf toe gets its nickname from its higher occurrence rate on artificial turf.

How Do Custom Foot Orthotics Work?

Given that custom orthotics are used in the management of a wide range of conditions and problems, and for children, older adults and sportsmen and women alike, it’s common to wonder how they can work to help everyone. The simple answer is that every pair of orthotics can have a very different function depending on the prescription features that your podiatrist selects. The orthotics alter the way your foot sits and the way certain joints and bones move to help bring you in line with your goals - whether that’s to optimise your performance on the running track, to finally walk the dog pain-free, to alleviate growing pains, or something different. Orthotics can be designed to:

  • Support tired muscles, joints and ligaments as you stand and walk, thereby helping to reduce your overall comfort on your feet throughout the day and reduce your end-of-day fatigue
  • Improve your performance, whether in sports or daily life
  • Improve your balance and stability
  • Best support the resolution of both acute and chronic injuries
  • Help prevent or help heal diabetic foot ulcers by offloading high pressure areas
  • Address any leg length differences you may have
  • Provide shock absorbing and cushioning abilities that your feet may no longer have (such as from the natural ageing process)
  • Alleviate pressure away from a painful joint
  • Reduce the strain on a tendon or ligament
  • Change the way that your feet move during gait (alter their biomechanics)
  • Provide the structures through your arch more support


  • The power and benefits of custom foot orthotics is in their unique prescription that is matched to your foot health needs by an experienced podiatrist. This is why standard gel-like insoles purchased from a pharmacy with the only goal of offering some cushioning are a very different product, and cannot be compared.
  • Custom foot orthotics don’t just treat injuries, they are extensively used to help with sports performance and daily foot comfort, too. If you’re unsure if orthotics are right for you, please speak to your podiatrist.
  • As orthotics are unique to your lower limb needs and goals, you should not share orthotics with others.
  • Much like prescription glasses, orthotics only work while you’re wearing them. This means we generally recommend wearing orthotics any time you’re being physically active or spending prolonged periods of time on your feet.