With news surrounding Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning and his chronic plantar fasciitis in recent weeks, I wanted to discuss orthotics and their role in sports medicine.
They are used quite frequently in shoes of runners and other athletes to treat foot and ankle problems due to overuse, as well as knee, hip and even back issues. There are 3 types: off the shelf, semi-permanent and permanent orthotics.
This week, I spoke with 1590 WAKR morning show host Ray Horner about this treatment. Because they’re still growing, younger athletes tend to do better with off-the-shelf or semi-permanent orthotics to get them back on their feet.
Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion.
DR. CONGENI: Couple things I wanted to talk about today. First of all, I heard you guys this week, and with a lot of foot and knee and other injuries, talking a little bit about … Peyton Manning (quarterback for the Denver Broncos) still struggling with the foot and other things. …
Um, there is a treatment that, uh, is used a lot in sports medicine and I just wanted to clear that up called orthotics, [which] are used in shoes of runners and other athletes to help with foot and ankle problems, knee problems, uh, hip problems, even back problems. And so, I kinda wanted to describe a little bit about [what] I talk to patients in my office about orthotics.
There are really 3 kinds of orthotics. Uh, off-the-shelf orthotics, which you just go out and buy on your own, are just shock absorbers. Some are better than others. Some are really not much at all and they’re kinda a waste of money. So, you probably ought to ask your doc about those if you’re gonna get an off-the-shelf [type] on your own.
Um, the second type is called semi-permanent, and they’re made in offices — a lot of times like sports medicine offices — more specifically for the movement pattern, the foot type. The running gait analysis is used to make these semi-permanent orthotics.
They have a lot more give to them. … Athletes feel a lot more comfortable in them, especially young athletes that are gonna grow. They [don’t have] a significant amount of cost to them. Many times, they’re actually a part of your evaluation for physical therapy.
And the 3rd type is permanent orthotics, and permanent orthotics are, um, made from a cast of the foot usually, much more expensive, [for] somebody that is going to need these forever as an athlete, as a runner.
So, they’re more expensive and not as useful in the younger athletes. The younger athletes I see do better with off-the-shelf [ones] or moving up that step to, um, semi-permanent, uh, which are a good orthotic that really is a nice tool in our sports medicine tool kit that can help us very frequently get athletes better.
HORNER: Joe, when we talk about the foot injuries, plantar fasciitis and some of the other ones, is that basically overuse?
DR. CONGENI: Most of those are overuse. I mean, there are some traumatic ones that occur. Like say for instance, if you’re looking at quarterbacks, you have Peyton Manning or many runners that wake up every day with Achilles tendinitis or plantar fasciitis or runner’s knee. Those are all really benefitted by orthotics.
In the meantime, think of like Ben Roethlisberger (quarterback for Pittsburgh Steelers) when somebody fell and rolled up his ankle. He had a traumatic event instead of an overuse-type injury. However, he had an insert in his shoe and [it was] beneficial to him to keep him out of a certain position so that he could play for a few weeks.
So, I just wanted people to be aware that it’s another tool that really helps us in sports medicine circles.
HORNER: That is very good. Alright, Joe, sounds good. I’ll talk to you next week.
DR. CONGENI: Okay, Ray. Have a great week. Thanks.
HORNER: You too. Dr. Joe Congeni, Sports Medicine Center, Akron Children’s Hospital.