When is it Time for New Orthotics? 4 Ways to Tell

Jan 21, 2021

Few pieces of technology are going to serve you forever. Just ask the VCR in your basement!

Custom orthotics are built for durability, but the pair you may have now will not be able to provide you the cushioning and corrective support you need for all eternity. Eventually the simple physics of wear and tear will get to them – and your needs might even change before then.

Although a good pair of orthotics might last you several years, we typically recommend regular custom orthotic check-ups at least once per year. (Our recommendations may vary depending on how active you are and how much daily stress your orthotics endure.) Even then, you should also be on the lookout yourself for signs that your orthotics need attention.

Here are a few things you should watch out for. Please never hesitate to reach out to us promptly anytime you have concerns about your orthotics or think they are not serving your needs as well as they should – even if you have a check-up appointment coming up soon. The best time to take care of any orthotics concerns is always as soon as possible!

custom orthotics

Pain is Starting to Return

This can mean pain in your feet and ankles, of course – but it can also mean pain in your legs, knees, hips, or lower back as well!

Your orthotics help restore balance and alignment to your bones and muscles. If persistent pain has started to re-emerge, it might mean that the balance is off once again. This could be due to wear and tear on your orthotics, but it is also possible that your foot structure and the way you walk and bear weight have changed enough that your orthotics can no longer fully accommodate them.

In either case, the solution could be as simple as making an adjustment to your current orthotics. Some cases might require them to be replaced, however.

You Notice Uneven Wear or Damage to Your Footwear

The same alignment adjustment that is supposed to keep the pain away should also, in most cases, keep your shoes from wearing down unevenly as well.

Take a look at the bottoms of your shoes. If the treads are not wearing out evenly between the shoes, it’s a sign that your orthotics may not be performing their job as well as they should.

Damage to the arches of the shoes can be another sign that they are experiencing too much stress, which may be related to your orthotics.

(Of course, if you’re looking at shoes you wore for quite a while before you started using orthotics, they likely won’t be giving you accurate information as to how your alignment is now. Also, you should really get new shoes.)

They Just Look Broken Down

You shouldn’t expect orthotics you have owned for a while to still look as fresh as a daisy, but you should be able to tell when they look broken or overly worn down. Periodically remove your orthotics from your shoes and look for:

  • Cracks
  • Broken off pieces 
  • A worn out top cover, where your foot meets the orthotic
  • Thinness in any areas

Any excessive wear or damage to your orthotics is capable of decreasing the effectiveness of your custom orthotics. In some cases, it can even make matters worse! 

Keep in mind that many insurance plans provide for a set of custom orthotics each year. Even if your current pair is still in good working order, getting new pairs to switch between will help prolong the lifespan of all your pairs. And if one of your pairs does break or become too worn out, you already have another pair to use instead!

YOU Have Significantly Changed

We mentioned earlier that your orthotics might eventually need to be adjusted to keep up with your needs. While we want our custom orthotics to remain steadfast, individual circumstances can nevertheless change.

Changes that might require a new examination of your orthotics include:

  • Changes in career or lifestyle that require a lot more action or time spent on your feet
  • Significant changes in weight over time (gaining or losing)
  • Pregnancy
  • Experiencing any foot or ankle injuries that have had a lasting impact on your foot and leg structure or gait
  • Experiencing significant progression of any foot deformities, such as bunions or hammertoes
  • Anything else you feel may be affecting your comfort on a daily basis

Again, some simple adjustments may be all you need, but a full refurbishment or replacement might be preferred for certain situations.

Keep Up to Date on Your Custom Orthotics

Custom orthotics are a long-term treatment. The more you use them without interruption, the better it will be for your overall comfort and foot function.

Don’t let wear and tear or other life changes keep your custom orthotics from providing the best performance they can for you. We will always be happy to keep in touch with you and make sure your orthotics are up to snuff.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Patel or Dr. Harpaz by calling either of our two offices:

We have telemedicine appointments available for patients who are able to and prefer to take advantage of them, so please don’t hesitate to ask for one if you would rather have your initial consultation conducted remotely.