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Orthotics Specialist

Joseph Stern, DPM

Podiatrist & Podiatric Surgeon located in San Francisco, CA

Custom orthotics can be used to manage many types of foot-, ankle- and gait-related problems in patients of all ages. At his San Francisco, CA, practice, Dr. Joseph Stern uses in-depth evaluations of each patient’s individual needs to create orthotics designed to provide long-term relief and improved mobility for adult and pediatric patients.

Orthotics Q&A

What are custom orthotics?

Custom orthotics are special shoe inserts designed specifically for an individual patient and used to treat an array of issues affecting the feet or ankles, as well as problems that affect balance or are caused by gait abnormalities.

What conditions can be treated with custom orthotics?

Orthotics are used to treat an array of conditions, including:

  • plantar fasciitis
  • bunions
  • hammer toes
  • fallen arches and flat feet
  • gait instability and balance issues
  • recurrent corns and calluses
  • diabetes-related foot problems
  • neuromas
  • congenital foot deformities

Custom orthotics are very carefully fitted using a series of measurements and gait evaluations, then created in a state-of-the-art lab using advanced materials for a very comfortable fit.

Are custom orthotics better than over-the-counter shoe inserts I can buy in the store?

Yes. Custom orthotics are designed specifically for the individual patient, taking many variables into account like foot shape, gait mechanics, the patient’s treatment objectives and overall health, and the specific condition that’s being treated. As a result, they’re much more effective in providing long-term, effective relief of symptoms, and in some cases, they can also be used to treat underlying conditions and improve them over time. Over-the-counter inserts are designed based on very broad concepts and designed for a mass audience rather than an individual patient. As a result, they cannot provide the same degree of long-term relief, and in many cases, they can cause or enable conditions to become worse by delaying professional care. Custom orthotics are also made of very durable materials and designed for long-term wear while mass-produced inserts purchased in a drugstore wear out very quickly, and over time, their cost can exceed any out-of-pocket costs associated with custom orthotics products. Plus, custom orthotics can even be designed to be worn in high heels and athletic shoes.

Will insurance cover the cost of my orthotics?

That depends on the specific insurance plan, but most major medical plans do provide coverage for orthotics prescribed by a podiatrist.


Please note that this is not a complete list of our contracted insurance carriers. If your provider is not listed, please contact us. We also encourage you to contact your insurance carrier to confirm coverage.

United Healthcare