Shoe Inserts for Foot Pain

Foot pain is quite common and can be the result of several underlying problems. Treatment of foot pain, regardless of the cause, often begins with more accommodating footwear. Shoe inserts are often helpful as well. Here are a few products that don't cost too much, but often help relieve different types of foot pain.

Gel Heel Cups

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Gel heel cups are great at alleviating symptoms of plantar fasciitis and heel pain. Different patients prefer different products in the treatment of plantar fasciitis, but overall, I find most patients like the heel cups the best. The gel heel cups provide padding directly over the area of most pain. By slightly elevating the hindfoot they also help reduce pressure on the plantar fascia. Be sure to wear them in all of your shoes (work and exercise). The cushioning of the gel inserts do provide most patients with relief when standing and walking.

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Arch Supports

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Arch supports can be helpful in the treatment of a variety of foot problems, including overpronation and flatfoot. In some cases, a custom orthotic may be needed, but for most patients, an "off the shelf" arch support is appropriate. Arch supports probably don't alter foot mechanics (as some sellers may claim), but they can alleviate symptoms in some patients. Spenco has a good product line and are reasonably priced--custom orthotics can cost hundreds of dollars and may not be much better. While some patients may decide to have custom made inserts, it is certainly reasonable to try a standard over-the-counter size first to see if that help. If so, it will save you a lot of money.

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Heel Wedges

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Heel wedges are inserts that are set in the back of your shoe. The wedge slightly elevates your heel and can take pressure off the hindfoot. I like to use heel wedges for the treatment of Achilles tendonitis. Some patients also find these useful for the treatment of plantar fasciitis, but I think the heel cups (above) are better for plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Start with a small wedge and build up if necessary.

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Metatarsal Pads

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Metatarsal pads help to decrease pressure under the ball of the foot. When a patient has foot pain under the ball of the foot, also called metatarsalgia, the metatarsal pads can be helpful at relieving these symptoms. These pads alter the distribution of force on the midfoot and take pressure off the most irritated locations in the foot.

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