What are Orthotics?

What are Orthotics?
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Orthotics is a branch of medicine dealing with the manufacture and use of orthoses or orthotics, devices to correct a patient's physical posture and function. Orthotics helps patients with a number of conditions, from stroke to congenital deformity. The field serves to maximize function and mobility, minimize pain, and prevent the progression of a physical abnormality. A simple example of orthotics with which many people are familiar is the insole, placed in a shoe to support and cushion the foot, preventing foot and leg pain.
Orthotics may be customized to the patient or prefabricated. Many prefabricated orthotics are available in drug stores. In addition to insoles, these may include knee, ankle, or wrist braces used to support compromised joints. It is important to wear only orthotics that fit comfortably, as they may otherwise cause more problems than they solve. Orthotics may also be custom fit; one example is a cast used to support and immobilize a broken limb while the bone heals. Other custom orthotics may be more similar to a store-bought brace, but made to fit the patient perfectly. Orthotics may be used to address a specific malformation or other medical problem, or they may simply be used to support the body and promote comfort in one's everyday activities. Those who engage regularly in sports activities or who have a physically rigorous job can benefit from orthotics. Insoles may be perfect for those who spend a lot of time on their feet, while a person who does heavy lifting for his or her job may benefit from an elastic back brace.
Orthotics span a wide range of prices, functions, and sophistication. They can be made of elastic fabric and plastic, or leather and metal. The level of support a patient needs depends upon his or her specific concerns or condition. If you simply wish to give yourself a little added everyday support, your local drug store can be the perfect place to shop for orthotics, but for more serious pain and posture issues, a medical professional should be consulted.