The terms orthotics and arch supports are sometimes used interchangeably, but in fact there are significant differences between the two.
An arch support is something that can be purchased of the shelf, made in bulk and is made to fit a generic foot type. There are a number of conditions that can be successfully treated with arch supports. In fact, I often recommend that patients try an arch support from their local shoe store or pharmacy to treat conditions such as heel and arch pain before we proceed on to other treatment options. Because they are made in bulk, they are much more affordable. Typically, they function to provide some arch support, as well as cushioning for the bottom of the foot.
On the other hand, orthotics are fabricated by hand in a complex process that requires a highly skilled technician. Each one is made individually to satisfy the doctor's orders. In addition, the doctor will spend considerable time with you evaluating your feet - indeed your whole body to determine what type of orthotic would best be suited for you and the activities you engage in. Rather than just supporting the arch, a well-made orthotic will help the foot function in its optimal position and alignment to facilitate healing and prevent injury and further deformities of the feet.
If your doctor has prescribed custom foot orthotics, you can be sure that he feels that the orthotics are the best treatment for your condition. More information regarding orthotics can be found by clicking here.