What are Orthopedic Inserts?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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Orthopedic inserts are removable pieces that may be placed inside shoes to improve muscle and joint movement. These devices may be prescribed by a doctor or purchased in general sizes at local shopping centers. They are frequently used to alleviate joint and muscle pain related to the way in which an individual walks.

Some of the most common foot problems addressed by orthopedic inserts are plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, heel spurs, and fallen arches. Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are two different conditions that can create pain in the heels, one from tension in the tendons and the other from malformations of the bone. Achilles tendinitis usually causes extreme pain in the ankles, and fallen arches are typically accompanied by overall foot and back pain. Doctors may require patients to wear several different types of inserts to discover which works best to heal the specific pain a sufferer is experiencing.


Orthopedic inserts can be made from plastic, foam, or gel, among other common materials. Gel inserts allow the wearer's foot to sink slightly into this malleable substance, creating a specific fit for any individual without making adjustments to the product. This type of insert is frequently used to treat plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Foam inserts are similarly comfortable, but provide slightly more resistance than gel, as well as a higher degree of support. This material is often used as a support cushion for individuals with pain located primarily in the ball of the foot.

Plastic orthopedic inserts may also be used to correct certain foot problems and abnormalities. These may be custom-designed for individual wearers to provide maximum support and correction. Plastic is a durable material and will not alter with the shape of the foot, forcing the wearer to adjust to the insert. These adjustments typically, over time, can correct posture, alleviate back pain, and raise fallen arches.

Such inserts are available in different shapes and sizes to suit the needs of the wearer, and can fit into virtually any type of shoe. Heel inserts are normally rounded to fit in the backs of shoes and can elevate the heel of the foot to various heights. Arch supports often cover the entire sole of the shoe and provide raised support through the center portion of the insert.

Orthopedic inserts are also frequently used to correct certain types of joint pain in the knees, hips, and back. This type of insert is generally designed to support the entire foot, rather than only one portion of it. The support allows the wearer to reduce impact on the knee and hip joints used in walking, while simultaneously elevating the lower portion of the spine. Wearers may experience greater comfort overall while walking due to a redistribution of weight. Individuals interested in purchasing orthopedic inserts may wish to consult a podiatrist or search online, by types of foot or join pain, through the wide selection of corrective footwear available.


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Post 3

I have flat feet and I experience chronic foot pain if I don't use orthopedic inserts. I know that gel inserts are very comfortable but I'm afraid they don't work too well for flat feet. Since my pain is caused by the natural shape of my feet, I need a firmer orthopedic insert that creates an arch in my foot. So I either use firm foam inserts or plastic inserts covered with cushion.

These create that arch in my feet and balance out how my body weight is distributed which relieves pain. The other thing about orthopedic inserts for flat feet is that they have to be warn all the time. I stopped wearing them for a while and the foot pain returned.

Post 2

@bear78-- Yes, they certainly can. Especially if the calluses are caused by wearing the wrong kind of shoes that cause friction on the heels. This is the cause of calluses and they can be extremely painful.

When I had a painful heel callus, I actually used half orthopedic inserts. These were made of gel material and meant for just the heel part of the foot. I wore them actually for a few years, even after the callus healed, to prevent new ones from forming.

Post 1

Will orthopedic inserts help with heel pain caused by calluses? Has anyone used them for this purpose?

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