Difference Between Over-the-Counter and Customized Orthotics

Difference Between Over-the-Counter and Customized Orthotics

An orthotic is an insert that fits inside a shoe and is designed to decrease abnormal foot motion, realign the foot, restore balance and eliminate or reduce foot pain. Orthotics generally come two ways, customized by an orthopedist or podiatrist to fit your foot and meet your physical needs or, over-the counter, trim to fit. Which is the best option? Continue reading to find out!

The Challenge

Orthotic devices may be recommended for several reasons, including:

  • Aligning and supporting the foot or ankle
  • Preventing, correcting or accommodating foot deformities
  • Improving the overall function of the foot or ankle

Over-the-Counter Devices

Basic over-the-counter devices are mass produced and sold through pharmacies, grocery stores and other retail stores.


  • Over-the-counter devices have the added benefits of convenience and affordability, usually costing $30 compared to $400 for customized orthotics
  • Many over-the-counter devices bring satisfactory results in treating common foot conditions resulting from minor abnormalities.


  • They do not fit all foot types.
  • They only support moderate abnormalities. More significant issues will require a custom-made device.
  • They typically have a shorter life span than a custom-made foot orthotic.
  • They could end up doing more harm then good

People risk worsening their symptoms when choosing an over-the-counter orthotic because it may address something unrelated to the cause of their problem. If they select the wrong type of device, they could change the mechanics of their gait and cause problems instead of curing them.

Custom-Made Orthotics

Unlike over-the-counter devices, a custom-made foot orthotic is made specifically for the patient following an assessment of their feet and legs by an expert, such as a Goodyear Chiropractic and Health Center certified Pedorthist.

A custom-made foot orthotic is made from a three-dimensional model of the patient’s foot and is fabricated from raw materials. It is designed to meet the patient’s unique and specific needs. A custom-made foot orthotic can be:

  • “Accommodative” – where the primary goal is to deflect pressure away from ulcers, callosities and painful pressure points
  • “Functional” – a device primarily designed to control foot and lower leg biomechanical function


  • Custom-made foot orthotics provide accurate assistance.
  • There is an ongoing ability to modify the device to create perfect fit and function.
  • A vast variety of materials can be used to provide specific support and cushioning for increased function and comfort.
  • Custom-made orthotics have a longer lifespan that may off-set the greater initial cost.


  • Although many insurance programs cover orthotics, a custom-made orthotic costs significantly more than an over-the-counter device.

Why Choose Goodyear Chiropractic Health Center

At Goodyear Chiropractic Health Center, our team of specialists will work with you to develop a treatment plan specific to your needs! For more information, schedule a free consultation today!