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Orthopaedic Footwear

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What Are Orthopaedic Shoes?

Orthopaedic shoes are specially designed footwear that provide more support for the feet and ankles than basic footwear; they are essentially the gold standard of footwear.  Contrary to popular belief:

  1. Orthopaedic shoes are worn by people of all ages, not just the elderly (foot pain does not discriminate)
  2. You can find very stylish and fashionable orthopaedic shoes (check out our Products page for some great options)

Some private insurers cover the cost of orthopaedic footwear if it is prescribed by a medical doctor or chiropodist. For more information, see the “Insurance & Coverage” section below. Stock item orthopaedic footwear and modified orthopaedic footwear are available for purchase and special order at Feet First Clinic. We can also modify existing shoes purchased elsewhere. We do not offer custom orthopaedic footwear.

If you think you would benefit from getting a pair of orthopaedic shoes, start by booking an appointment with one of our chiropodists. At your appointment, a chiropodist will conduct a comprehensive biomechanical assessment and gait analysis and may write you a prescription for orthopaedic footwear depending on their findings.

After your appointment, you can browse our on-site footwear shop with our knowledgeable staff. We will size you and help you select the best shoes for you.  We can also order orthopaedic footwear on your behalf if we don’t have it in stock.

Once your shoes arrive, you can try them on at our foot clinic and our staff will make sure they fit properly.

Conditions Treated

Orthopaedic shoes are an important piece of the treatment puzzle for those suffering from functional or structural foot problems, such as:

The Process

How Can I Get Orthopedic Shoes?

A prescription from a foot specialist, such as a chiropodist, is required by most insurers to cover the cost of orthopaedic footwear. To get a prescription, you must book a footwear assessment with a chiropodist. You can book your assessment by calling us at 416-769-FEET (3338) or through our online booking form.

Before Your Footwear Assessment:

If you plan to claim your orthopaedic shoes through insurance, it is very important that you verify your coverage directly with your insurer, or obtain a policy breakdown, prior to your appointment.  Please get the exact terminology for your footwear coverage – specifically which type of orthopaedic footwear you are covered for – as this can affect what happens during your footwear assessment. Failure to do this may result in your claim being denied. Please read the “Insurance Coverage” section below for further information.

Footwear Assessment with a Chiropodist: 

During a footwear assessment, your chiropodist will assess your feet and biomechanics to determine your foot type, foot condition, and whether you would benefit from orthopaedic footwear. They will then make recommendations and – if orthopaedic footwear is recommended – write a prescription. Click here to learn more about what happens during a foot assessment.

If you require modified orthopaedic footwear, the chiropodist will also take a foam mold of your foot. Please advise us at your appointment if your insurance provider requires modifications.

If you require modified orthopaedic footwear, our chiropodists will take a foam mould of your foot in a foam box.

Selecting Your Shoes:

After your assessment, our staff can help you select the right shoes from our specially curated on-site footwear shop. If you don’t see something you like, don’t worry! There are additional styles available which we can order in for you. Simply browse the catalogues for the orthopaedic brands covered by your insurance and select the styles you like. We’ll then size you in that brand and order the style you want in your size.

Once you select your shoes, we will prepare a footwear quote for you to submit to your insurance company for pre-approval. We recommend picking a few options for your quote just in case your insurance company does not approve your first choice, or it is out of stock. Once you hear back from your insurance company, contact us; we will order your shoes once we receive confirmation from you that you are pre-approved.

When your shoes arrive, you can try them on at our foot clinic to make sure they fit properly.

If you already have a valid prescription for orthopaedic footwear, or do not plan to claim your footwear through insurance, you can drop by our clinic during office hours to select the footwear that best fits your needs.

Please note: not all shoes available at Feet First Clinic are covered by insurance. Please read below for further information.

Insurance Coverage

Are Orthopaedic Shoes By Insurance?

Orthopedic shoes are covered under some supplemental insurance plans. However, each insurance company has their own stipulations about the types and brands of orthopaedic footwear that they will cover.

If you intend to claim orthopaedic footwear through your insurance company, it is very important that you verify directly with your insurance company which type of orthopaedic shoes you are covered for  prior to your appointment.  When checking your policy, please get the exact terminology for your footwear coverage, as this can greatly alter the requirements and eligible footwear you are covered for. This can include:

  • Stock item orthopaedic footwear (available at Feet First Clinic)
  • Modified orthopaedic footwear (available at Feet First Clinic)
  • Custom-made orthopaedic footwear (not available at Feet First Clinic)

Insurance quotes for orthopedic footwear are recommended to ensure that specific makes and models are approved. We will prepare a quote for you to submit to your insurance company for pre-approval.

Feet First Clinic is not liable if your footwear claim is denied. If your footwear claim is denied after you purchase the shoes, you will not be able to return the shoes.

Please note: The footwear assessment fee is separate from the orthopaedic shoes. Footwear assessments are a chiropodist service and are covered by many private insurance plans. Chiropodist services are not covered by OHIP.

Understanding Your Footwear Coverage

There are three main types of orthopaedic footwear covered by insurance companies. Prior to your appointment, please check the exact terminology in your insurance policy to see which of the following types of orthopaedic footwear you are covered for:

  • Stock Item Orthopaedic Footwear: Also referred to “off-the-shelf” orthopaedic footwear, these are orthopaedic shoes that can be purchased from stock (or “off-the-shelf”). No modifications or customizations are made.
  • Modified Orthopaedic Footwear: This is stock item orthopaedic footwear with an added special modified insole. The chiropodist will take a foam mould of your foot and then list modifications to be made based on your foot condition. Once you select your shoe, we will send your shoe and the mold to the lab to make the modifications. We can also modify existing shoes purhased elsewhere. Some policies will only cover the modifications themselves; some will cover both the shoe and the modifications. Because the chiropodist needs to take a mold of your foot at your foot assessment, please let us know prior to or at your appointment if your policy requires modified footwear.
  • Custom Made Orthopaedic Footwear: This refers to a custom-made shoe. Feet First Clinic does not offer custom made orthopaedic footwear.

Once you obtain your policy breakdown, feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the terminology in your footwear coverage.

Brands and Styles Covered by Insurance

Every policy is unique and varies from plan to plan, and between insurance companies. Most insurance companies cover orthopaedic footwear from the following companies (if you have coverage):

Some insurance companies and employers will cover other brands too. Most insurance companies do not cover open toe sandals or winter boots; however this may vary. To ensure your choice of footwear is covered, we recommend selecting multiple models. We will then prepare a quote with these models for you to submit to your insurance company for preapproval. That way, if your first choice is not approved, you have a back-up option.

After your foot assessment, when selecting shoes, we will size you in the brands covered by your insurance company. Once we know your size, you can select the shoes you want from a catalogue. Provided the shoe is in stock, we can order it in for you. We will order your shoe once we receive confirmation from you that you are pre-approved.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Benefits Of Orthopaedic Shoes?

Orthopaedic shoes are good for the sole. After all, ‘ortho” means ‘correct’ and ‘pedic’ means ‘foot’. By definition, they are as good as shoes can get for your feet. Orthopaedic shoes are designed to fit correctly in order to properly support and accommodate the structure and mechanics of the feet and legs in all the right places (80% of foot problems are due to ill-fitting shoes).

How Are Orthopedic Shoes Different Than Basic Footwear?

Compared to basic off-the-shelf footwear, orthopaedic shoes usually have these key structural characteristics:

  • Extra firm heel counter:  Cradles the heel to anchor the foot and reduce overpronation
  • Wide toe box:  Extra room allows toes to move freely, reducing crowding, rubbing, and excess pressure on bunions and hammertoes
  • Stretchable upper:  Ensures your feet maintain the correct or natural shape when you wear them. In other words, an orthopaedic shoe conforms to the contours of your foot instead of your foot conforming to the shape of the shoe.
  • Extra sizing options:  Available in a range of widths such as wide, extra wide, and extra extra wide, to offer a more precise fit
  • Protective Interior:  Soft, smooth, and breathable interior fabric that provides gentle contact with the foot to prevent blisters, calluses, and corns, which can be especially important in individuals with diabetes.
  • Performance midsole:  Absorbs shock and promotes a natural gait
  • Removable insoles:  Many people who need orthopaedic shoes also need custom orthotics so this makes it easy to swap in custom devices or over-the-counter insoles that provide further comfort and support

What Styles Of Orthopaedic Shoes Are Available?

Feet First Clinic carries orthopaedic sneakers, shoes, boots, booties, loafers, sandals, slippers, and even pumps from designer brands including:

  • Birkenstock
  • Clarks
  • Asics
  • FitFlop
  • Ara
  • Anodyne
  • Apex
  • Mephisto
  • Portofino
  • Naot

You can view our shoe catalogs on our Products page, or check out our Bloor West foot clinic to view our in-store selection.

Please note: not all brands and styles are covered by insurance companies.

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