Track and Field

       Southern California 

Medical Support Group


(310) 471-7401

Dr. Paul R. Copeskey, DC, CCFC

Sports Injury Specialist

The Orthotic Doctor


Over-the-counter orthotics come in all shapes, colors and sizes these days; some with misleading claims of being custom or even custom-fitted orthotics.  These are not considered to be Durable Medical Devices.  The most common over-the-counter (OTC) orthotics or insoles are: Dr Scholl's, Superfeet, Sole, and CurrexSoles.  Even the shoe manufacturers are getting into the orthotic business with New Balance now selling their own.  The reality is they are all "accommodative" devices, compared to "corrective" custom fabricated orthotics.  This means they don't correct foot deformities, but just accommodate them and help keep them from getting worse.  Also, they have limited longevity (usually a few months), as they are not constructed out of the typical strong plastic material (Polypropylene) found in custom orthotics.  This means every time you purchase new shoes, you'll probably need to buy a new pair of OTC inserts because they are made of  softer and more flexible materials which deteriorate and weaken with time and usage.  


Currently, Medicare defines orthotics in one of three types to meet HCFA standards and all must  be accompanied with a prescription and/or a certificate of medical necessity from a signed physician. 


  • Custom Fitted - Requires substantial adjustments to the prefabricated item by a specially trained professional to meet the needs and or unique shape of an individual patient.  
    • There are few important words here:
      • Specially trained professional - licensed in orthotic care
      • Patient - A person receiving medical treatment 


  • Custom Molded - Requires a cast, mold or mapping of a specific body part and is used to create an orthotic devise by a specially trained professional to meet the needs and/or unique shape of an individual patient.  
    • There are few important words here:
      • Create an orthotic device, not choose a prefabricated device
      • Specially trained professional - licensed in orthotic care
      • Patient - A person receiving medical treatment 


  • Custom Fabricated -  Requires a mold, whereby a cast is made of the specific body part for a specific patient for his or her individualized measurements and by a specially trained professional to meet the needs and/or unique shape of an individual patient.  
    • There are few important words here:
      • Create an orthotic device, not choose a prefabricated device
      • Specially trained professional - licensed in orthotic care
      • Patient - A person receiving medical treatment 

The  OTC orthotic from a pharmacy kiosk or taken off a shelf by a shoe store sales clerk is a NOT a corrective orthotic.  OTC orthotics are better than the 1 cent insoles that come in $100 running shoes, but custom orthotics are 2-4 times better than the OTC ones.

Over-The-Counter Orthotics