Public Caution: Podiatrists Caution Public about Store-Bought Orthotics

Podiatrists in the Monroe Division of the New York State Podiatric Medical Association (NYSPMA) are taking aim at shoe stores that are advertising orthotics for a variety of health problems.


“The continuing barrage of advertising from shoe stores has many people convinced that over-the-counter arch supports may be the cure to the common, as well as the uncommon, foot problem,” said Suzanne Schimenti, DPM, president of the Monroe Division, said in press release disseminated in New York state. “We are urging the public to be wary and to realize that anything that goes in a shoe can affect not only the foot, but also the ankle, knee hips and back as well.”


According to Schimenti, problems like heel pain, plantar fascitis, bunions and hammertoes should be treated by a doctor. “These are medical conditions can be serious,” she stressed.” What’s more, they may be signaling the presence of more serious systemic medical problems that only a doctor can diagnose.”


The Monroe Division is responding to ads from shoe stores that target people with specific medical conditions, such as diabetes. Schimenti pointed out, “That’s especially alarming to podiatrists who are often the first to diagnose diabetes and whose treatment of the disorder can reduce the need for a lower extremity amputation in patients by as much as 80%. These conditions belong in a doctor’s office, not in the aisle of a shoe outlet.”


Robert Russo, DPM, a trustee of the NYSPMA who practices in Rochester , New York, said that podiatrists aren’t in business to sell orthotics. “When a podiatrist recommends orthotic devices, first and foremost, they will be necessary,” Russo said. “When orthotics are included in a treatment plan, they will by properly fitted” custom made and fabricated not only for the particular problem but for each individual foot. No two feet are generic, so there’s no reason to settle for generic, store-bought arch supports. In the long run, it pays to check with a podiatrist before buying anything that treats the foot.”