What IS a Credentialed Pedorthist? And Why Should I See One?

A credentialed pedorthist is a specialist in using footwear - which includes shoes, shoe modifications, foot orthoses and other pedorthic devices - to solve problems in, or related to, the foot and lower limb.

When a foot requires medical attention, footwear becomes a factor in the patient's treatment, recovery or rehabilitation. It's a team approach: While the doctor treats your foot, the credentialed pedorthist addresses your footwear needs.

Where can I find a credentialed pedorthist?

The Pedorthic Footcare Association's website (www.pedorthics.org) maintains a searchable directory of members.  The members in your area will be able to help you find a credentialed pedorthist. Many of them are in private practice; others work at hospitals, clinics, shoe stores or other facilities. If you don't have a computer at your home or office, check with your local library for web site assistance.

What is "pedorthics"?

Pedorthics (peh-DOR-thiks) is the management and treatment of conditions of the foot, ankle, and lower extremities requiring fitting, fabricating, and adjusting of pedorthic devices.

How does the team approach work?

When appropriate, doctors refer patients to specialists - and credentialed pedorthists are specialists in using footwear to address lower-limb-related problems and pathologies. Credentialed pedorthists understand the properties of footwear, and the interaction between the patient's foot and shoe. Credentialed pedorthists are also skilled at evaluating feet and fitting footwear. After your physician has determined what kind of assistance your footwear should provide for you, a credentialed pedorthist can fill the prescription.

What do credentialed pedorthists actually do?

They select and modify footwear (or make it, if necessary) to help people maintain or regain as much mobility as possible. When your ability to walk is affected, everything that surrounds or touches your foot - whether it's foot orthoses, shoes, boots, slippers, sandals, socks, hosiery, night splints, bandages, braces, partial-foot prosthetics or other devices - interacts with your foot. That makes footwear a crucial part of your recommended treatment plan. Footwear adjustments can be made inside or outside a shoe.

Foot orthoses, also called orthotics, are an important component of footwear that can accommodate, support or relieve specific conditions, as well as improve the foot's function. In addition to designing and fabricating an appropriate orthotic, a credentialed pedorthist can provide you personalized attention in selecting, fitting and modifying shoes so that you can wear the orthotic effectively. Credentialed pedorthists follow up to make sure the footwear functions as your doctor prescribed. A footwear prescription, like any other prescription, takes into account your medical history, activities of daily living, and treatment goals.

What kinds of problems does a footwear prescription address?

Pedorthics gives physicians a whole range of conservative - or non-surgical - treatment options. Increasingly, doctors and other qualified prescribers write footwear prescriptions to relieve pressure, redistribute weight, accommodate or support conditions, prevent injuries, compensate for imbalances or overuse, and preclude the worsening of damage to the foot. In addition to addressing lower limb problems, footwear prescriptions can address foot-related problems, such as lower back pain, pelvic imbalances, or other limits to your physical ability to perform. Footwear prescriptions can even help athletes return to their sports faster from some minor injuries.

What qualifies someone to be a credentialed pedorthist?

People coming into pedorthics study foot and lower limb anatomy; pathology; biomechanics, which involves human locomotion; gait analysis; footwear fitting; lower extremity orthotic design, fabrication and materials; shoe construction and modification; and patient/practice management. In addition, most seek non-academic experience under the supervision of a credentialed pedorthist to familiarize themselves with pedorthic approaches, terminology and techniques. After studying and being mentored, they attend specific pedorthic courses which are prerequisites for their certification examination. Credentialed pedorthists maintain their certification by following continuing education and renewal requirements.

My feet sometimes bother me, but I don't need a doctor, I just need more comfort in my shoes. Can a credentialed pedorthist help with that?

Yes. Many people can benefit from pedorthic devices or footwear modifications to make their shoes more comfortable. Sometimes they just need a shoe that has been properly fit. You can see a credentialed pedorthist without a footwear prescription, but some credentialed pedorthists prefer to work by appointment, to assure they can give your feet the attention you deserve. Keep in mind that if you have a medical condition, you will need a footwear prescription before the credentialed pedorthist can help you.

Where can I find a credentialed pedorthist?

The Pedorthic Footcare Association's website (www.pedorthics.org) maintains a searchable directory of members.  The members in your area will be able to help you find a credentialed pedorthist. Many of them are in private practice; others work at hospitals, clinics, shoe stores or other facilities. If you don't have a computer at your home or office, check with your local library for web site assistance.

Patients may be eligible through health insurance for partial or full reimbursement for footwear prescribed to accommodate or alleviate medical conditions.

 

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