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Orthotics Unraveled: The Benefits for Musculoskeletal Conditions

Orthotics are devices that are used to support, align, prevent, or correct deformities or improve the function of movable parts of the body, such as the hand, wrist, elbow, foot, ankle and knee. They can be prescribed by a doctor or a specialist such as an orthopaedic surgeon, musculoskeletal doctor or a physiotherapist to help alleviate pain, improve mobility, and prevent further injury.


There are several types of orthotics that can be used to treat different conditions of the hand, wrist, elbow, foot, ankle, and knee. The most common types include:


  • Hand orthotics: These are devices that are worn on the hand to provide support and stability for the fingers, thumb and the wrist. They can be used to treat conditions such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendonitis. For example, an orthotic splint can be worn to keep fingers in a straight position to help alleviate pain and stiffness associated with arthritis in the fingers.



  • Wrist orthotics: These are devices that are worn on the wrist to provide support and stability for the wrist joint. They can be used to treat conditions such as wrist sprains, wrist fractures, and arthritis. For example, a wrist brace can be worn to provide support and stability to the wrist joint and restrict movement to help alleviate pain associated with a wrist sprain or wrist fracture.



  • Elbow orthotics: These are devices that are worn on the elbow to provide support and stability for the elbow joint. They can be used to treat conditions such as tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, and osteoarthritis. For example, an elbow brace can be worn to provide support and stability to the elbow joint and restrict movement to help alleviate pain associated with tennis elbow or golfer's elbow.



  • Foot orthotics: These are inserts that are placed inside shoes to provide support and cushioning for the feet. They can be used to treat conditions such as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and overpronation (when the foot rolls inward too much when walking or running). For example, custom-made orthotic inserts can be placed inside the shoe to provide arch support and cushioning to alleviate pain associated with plantar fasciitis and heel spurs.



  • Ankle-foot orthotics (AFOs): These are devices that are worn around the ankle and foot to provide support and stability for the ankle and foot. They can be used to treat conditions such as ankle sprains, foot drop, and clubfoot. For example, an AFO can be worn to provide support and stability to the ankle and foot and restrict movement to help alleviate pain associated with an ankle sprain or foot drop.


  • Knee orthotics: These are devices that are worn around the knee to provide support and stability for the knee joint. They can be used to treat conditions such as knee osteoarthritis, ligament injuries, and patellofemoral pain syndrome. For example, a knee brace can be worn to provide support and stability to the knee joint and restrict movement to help alleviate pain associated with knee osteoarthritis or ligament injuries.


It's important to note that orthotics should be prescribed by a doctor or specialist who will take into account the patient's condition, symptoms, and needs before making a recommendation. They will perform a detailed clinical assessment, review of patient's medical history and will also look at imaging like x-ray, ultrasound scans and MRI scans to make an accurate diagnosis before deciding on the type of orthotic that would be most beneficial for the patient.

ACTIVATE Musculoskeletal Clinic in Kent offers a comprehensive range of non-surgical treatments for bone and joint problems, including orthotics. If you feel you may benefit from wearing an orthotic for your musculoskeletal condition, we encourage you to contact us. You don't need a referral and clinic appointments are available in less than one week.

At ACTIVATE, we are committed to providing the necessary support and care to help you achieve your goals.

Don't let pain hold you back any longer, contact us today and let us help you regain your mobility and independence.


About the Author: Dr. Mustafa Alnaib MBChB, MRCS, MSc, FEBOT is an orthopaedic surgeon, musculoskeletal doctor and Clinic Director at ACTIVATE Musculoskeletal Clinic in Kent.



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