What are hip orthotics?

If you have hip pain, you may want to wear custom orthotics in your footwear or on your body. Orthotics are devices that slip into your shoe to align your body. They also include braces that strap onto your legs. When your foot, ankle or knee is not moving properly, it may cause pain in your hip. When your leg bones aren't aligned or your weight is unevenly distributed, it can stress your hip joints. When you wear orthotics, your body will begin to realign itself. Once your lower legs move better, your hip may move better and your pain may subside.

What are hip orthotics used for? 

Orthotics can change the way your body moves. They help to realign your body when it's upright. This results in less strain, especially to your hips. Orthotics can also help when you're involved in activities in the upright position, such as:

  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Walking
  • Team sports

Stress on your feet, ankles and knees may cause you to walk improperly. As a result, the cushioning hip bursa, or fluid-filled sacs in your joints, may swell up and hurt. Your hip joints may also wear down. Your doctor or physical therapist will see if correcting the way you walk can help your hip pain.

What to expect from using hip orthotics

Orthotics help manage your hip pain sometimes, but not always. They provide a non-surgical treatment to see how your hip pain responds. Orthotics may be one part of your treatment. In addition, your medical professional may ice, heat or offer exercises and other adjustments as part of your pain-management plan. 

Making a custom orthotic is more complex than buying an insert in a store. You may need to visit a podiatrist. This is a foot doctor. They'll examine your walk and assess your movement. They may take measurements and a digital image of your feet to pinpoint the best shape of orthotics for your condition. Your physician will also tell you how often to wear your orthotics for maximum benefits.

Common conditions requiring hip orthotics

Conditions with your ankle, feet and knees may impact your hips. That's because these issues may cause limping and poor posture that your hips have to compensate for. Some of those problems include: 

  • Bursitis
  • Sciatica
  • Bunions
  • Arthritis
  • Nerve pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Misaligned kneecap
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis (chronic heel pain)
  • Repetitive stress (walking/running) 
  • Pronation/supination (excessive foot rolling)

Custom inserts for shoes can last a few years. You'll need to get them replaced as they wear out. Good hip health starts from the ground up thanks to orthotics.

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