Glossary Of Terms Relating To Custom Orthotics

Table of Contents

Custom orthotics are devices that can be prescribed by a doctor to help with various health problems. Custom orthotics can also be purchased over-the-counter and used as an alternative treatment for injuries and tight muscles. Custom orthotic design is based on the unique anatomy of the patient, which allows it to provide better support than off-the-shelf products. There are many terms related to custom orthotics that you may not know, so this glossary includes definitions for all these terms in one place!


ABC certification is the highest standard of excellence for professionals providing orthotic, prosthetic and pedorthic patient care and technical services.

Achilles Tendon

The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord that connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone. If you overstretch your Achilles tendon, it can tear (rupture). Achilles tendon rupture is an injury that affects the back of your lower leg.

Achilles tendon rupture

An injury that affects the back of your lower leg.


The tasks of everyday life. Basic ADLs include eating, dressing, getting into or out of a bed or chair, taking a bath or shower, and using the toilet.

Achilles tendinitis

An overuse injury of the Achilles tendon, the band of tissue that connects calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel bone. 


The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the key ligaments that help stabilize your knee joint. The ACL connects your thigh bone (femur) to your shinbone (tibia). 


AFO stands for ankle foot orthosis. This kind of brace is usually made of plastic. Orthoses are named for the parts of the body they control.

Ankle Block

A combination of 5 injections around the foot and ankle. Before the performance of the block, you will receive medicine to sedate you.


Nearer the front, especially situated in the front of the body or nearer to the head.


Arthrodesis refers to the fusion of two or more bones in a joint.


The progressive degeneration or shrinkage of muscle or nerve tissue.


Below Elbow


Below Knee


Board Of Certification Orthotics

Brachial Plexus

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves in the shoulder that carries movement and sensory signals from the spinal cord to the arms and hands.


The calcaneus is the large bone at the heel of the foot.

Casting Procedure

Casting processes involve the use of molten material, usually metal.

Cervical Vertebrae

The cervical spine, comprising seven cervical vertebrae referred to as C1 to C7, is divided into two major segments: the craniocervical junction (CCJ) and the subaxial spine.

Charcot Joint

Defined as bone and joint changes that occur secondary to loss of sensation and is most often associated with diabetes, syphilis, syringomyelia, spina bifida, traumatic spinal cord injury, and leprosy.

Check Socket

A socket in a relatively rigid material molded directly over the modified model of the amputation stump.


The orderly combination of shoulder movements so that the hand traces a circle and the arm traces a cone.


Also called talipes equinovarus, is a birth defect that affects the foot and ankle.


Certified Orthotist. A health care professional specifically educated and trained to manage comprehensive orthotic and/or prosthetic patient care.


A permanent tightening of the muscles, tendons, skin, and nearby tissues that causes the joints to shorten and become very stiff.

CROW Walker

The Charcot Restraint Orthotic Walker or CROW for short is a type of custom-made brace that is designed to reduce pressure on the foot and the ankle for people who have a neuropathic ulcer and/or a Charcot Joint.

Custom Designed

They’re made just for you to help improve, support or correct.

Custom Fitted

Provision to fit the item to the individual beneficiary.

Custom Molded Orthotics

These are the closest to true custom orthotics because you can pick out size and shape, but they still won’t be perfect. The “donut” that goes under your foot will fit into a socket shaped to match your arch and heel dimensions, however it does not take into account the entire breadth of the foot. 


Made of lightweight, custom-molded plastic to provide support and help maintain proper positioning of the ankle and foot.


The action of raising the foot upwards towards the shin.

Drop Foot

A muscular weakness or paralysis that makes it difficult to lift the front part of your foot and toes.


When your foot collapses inward, usually with your feet also flattening.


A human hand or foot.


Foot Orthotics are specially designed shoe inserts that help support the feet and improve foot posture.

Gait Training

A physical therapy that can help improve your ability to stand and walk.

Heel Strike

If your heel hits the ground first followed by the rest of your foot.


A surgical procedure that may be performed to address certain bone and soft tissue tumors that developed in or spread to the pelvis.


HIPAA protects the privacy of patients by prohibiting certain uses and disclosures of health information.


A custom-molded plastic shell with contoured metal uprights and a pelvic band that provides support and correction to the hip, knee, ankle and foot.


the tilting of the sole towards the midline of the body during movement.


Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis


Knee Orthosis


Metal Ankle Foot Orthosis


The bones of the forefoot that connect the distal aspects of the cuneiform (medial, intermediate and lateral) bones and cuboid bone to the base of the five phalanges of the foot. 


A type of paralysis that impacts one limb, most often an arm, but it can also affect one of your legs.

Multiaxial Foot

It features articulated joints which allow a rocking motion of the foot from heel to toe (dorsiflexion/plantarflexion) as well as from side to side (inversion and eversion).


It is one of the seven bones which make up the tarsus of the Ankle and Foot


Specialists who treat diseases of the brain and spinal cord, peripheral nerves and muscles.


All the muscles in the body and the nerves serving them.


A medical specialty that focuses on the diagnosis, correction, prevention, and treatment of patients with skeletal deformities – disorders of the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves and skin. The physicians who specialize in this area are called orthopedic surgeons or orthopedists.


An externally applied device that is designed and fitted to the body to achieve one or more of the following goals: Control biomechanical alignment. Correct or accommodate deformity. Protect and support an injury.


They are prescription medical devices that you wear inside your shoes to correct biomechanical foot issues such as problems with how you walk, stand, or run. They can also help with foot pain caused by medical conditions such as diabetes, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, and arthritis.

Orthotic Arch Supports

This type of product is orthotic but it is not truly a custom orthotic. It will only have the shape of an arch support, which does nothing to address biomechanics. There are no guarantees in regards to size or shape and won’t be able to provide the support you need for overuse injuries.


A healthcare professional who makes and fits braces and splints (orthoses) for people who need added support for body parts that have been weakened by injury, disease, or disorders of the nerves, muscles, or bones.


A self-aligning goniometer measured ankle angle as the subject walked, and a gait event marker system recorded occurrences of gait events.


The loss of the ability to move some or all of your body. It can have lots of different causes, some of which can be serious. Depending on the cause, it may be temporary or permanent.


A term used to describe the inability to voluntarily move the lower parts of the body.

Partial Foot

Removal of any portion of the foot. 


Science and practice of evaluating, fabricating, and delivering footwear and foot orthoses to prevent, ease, or treat painful or disabling conditions of the foot and ankle caused by disease, congenital defect, overuse, or injury. … Alleviating painful or debilitating conditions of the lower limb.


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.

Pes Calcaneus

One of the most severe types of foot deformities and is characterized by the presence of a fixed position of foot extension without active flexion.

Pes Cavus

A deformity that is typically characterized by cavus (elevation of the longitudinal plantar arch of the foot), plantar flexion of the first ray, forefoot pronation, and valgus, hindfoot varus, and forefoot adduction.

Pes Equinus

The inability to dorsiflex the ankle enough to allow the heel to contact the supporting surface without some form of biomechanical compensation.


An abnormal foot due to a flattened arch, a rolled-in appearance of the ankle, and a heel that appears to be rolled-out from under the ankle.

Pes Valgus

A deformity involving the foot that is usually combined with a breaking down of the plantar arch.

Pes varus

A developmental condition that results in a limb deformity and is seen most commonly in dachshunds. In Latin pes means foot and varus means inward.


Medical doctors who have gone through medical school and have completed training in the specialty field of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Plantar Flexion

The extension of the ankle so that the foot points down and away from the leg.

Plantar Surface

In humans the sole of the foot is anatomically referred to as the plantar aspect.


The back or direction toward the back of the body. 


Pressure Relief Ankle Foot Orthosis


Term used to describe the up or down orientation of your hand, arm, or foot.

Rocker Bottom Soles

A shoe which has a thicker-than-normal sole with rounded heel. Such shoes ensure the wearer does not have flat footing along the proximal-distal axis of the foot.


The phase of gait begins when the foot first touches the ground and ends when the same foot leaves the ground.


The phase of gait begins when the foot first leaves the ground and ends when the same foot touches the ground again.

Symes Amputation

An amputation at the level of the ankle joint in which the heel pad is preserved. It is performed for a number of indications in a pediatric population.

Talipes Equinovarus

A specific and common type of what is sometimes called “clubfoot”, a term that encompasses a range of anomalies of the ankle or foot present at birth

Terminal Device

The component of the prosthesis that replaces a person’s hand or foot.

True Custom Orthotics

These are typically sold by a medical supply store. They aren’t custom devices because the user doesn’t get to pick out the size or shape, and there is no guarantee of a perfect fit. The size will be one-size-fits-all so it may not work for your feet, especially if you have wide feet.


The angulation (or bowing) within the shaft of a bone or at a joint in the coronal plane.


A deformity in which an anatomical part is turned inward toward the midline of the body to an abnormal degree a varus heel.

There are so many terms related to custom orthotics, it can be hard to keep up with them all. We’ve compiled a glossary of the most important ones for you below. With this list, you should have no problem understanding what we mean when we talk about our products or services!  Call us today and let us help improve your quality of life with one-on-one customer service that is tailored specifically to your needs.

Remember, The 3 Arches of Your Feet Still Need Support!

Maybe you have already felt the first symptoms of balance disorders or you want to prevent them from appearing in the first place. Consider getting a foot orthotic device or simply take care of your feet. Start by washing them thoroughly with a gentle soap whenever you take a shower. Being a very complex support system, your feet are your first line of defense against balance-related issues, since their arches provide you with the stability you need in your daily life. It’s time to put your foot down and push back against balance issues. With both feet on the ground, dedicate yourself to keeping them comfortable and healthy. Give us a call and we will scan your feet to make you custom orthotic inserts.

The Shoe Doctor has specialized in providing custom orthotics for 20 years. The right orthotic insoles can greatly reduce foot, knee and hip pain while increasing performance and comfort. Russell at The Shoe Doctor will help educate and assist you in finding the perfect solution for your particular situation. We will create a 3D map of your feet and make custom orthotics for your hiking boots, everyday shoes, and everything else in between. These orthotics, along with our expert advice, will get you using orthotics like a pro, and have you performing at the peak of your abilities in no time!  If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, give The Shoe Doctor a call to get the best custom orthotics in the area! We are here to assist you, schedule your free consultation here!


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Russell Pate

Russell Pate

Russell has been a Certified Pedorthist for over 28 years.

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