A colleague of mine, Dr. Andrew Schneider, recently reported how a patient of his spent over $200 at a “Foot Specialty Store” for an off-the-shelf arch support. Such arch supports should cost no more than $60 at best. More stores are getting into the “Foot Business” preying on people who have foot pain. I frequently see patients who say they’d pay anything to get rid of their foot pain. This must be why MBT shoes, at over $200 a pair, are so popular. They have to be some of the ugliest shoes on the planet, but with salespeople pitching the health and pain-relieving benefits, they’re flying off the shelf. What I can’t understand is why so many people fall for this! Adding a rocker to the bottom of a shoe, the essence of the MBT products, has been around for ages and is commonly used as a prescription shoe modification for orthopaedic shoes. As a foot and ankle specialist and owner of a fashion comfort shoe store, I can’t understand how these specialty stores can recommend this type of shoe without first consulting a podiatrist or other medical professional.
I had a patient yesterday tell me that while at one of these “Foot Specialty Stores” he stood on a pressure mat and the salesperson diagnosed him with plantar fasciitis. Let me repeat…the salesperson diagnosed him with plantar fasciitis when he stepped on a pressure mat. Seriously! I can understand the salesperson looking at the foot and saying “you have a bunion” as this can be fairly obvious, but plantar fasciitis, a localized inflammation of the soft tissues in the heel, cannot be seen on an x-ray let alone a pressure mat. In fact, at 1Foot 2Foot we often use diagnostic ultrasound to directly visualize the plantar fascia in order to make this diagnosis. But I guess if the salesperson really wanted to sell an insert or shoe at $200, making a medical diagnosis isn’t too hard.
The bottom line is this. Buyer Beware! If you or someone you know has foot pain, see a podiatrist, get a real diagnosis and stop wasting your money at these so-called ‘specialty’ stores! In many cases, a visit to your friendly neighborhood podiatrist can cost less than your trips to the shoe store.
For the record, I have noticed at least some improvement in the styling of the MBT shoes. I may not agree with their cost or overall benefit, but at least I wouldn’t have to look like a fool wearing them anymore 🙂
Dr. Dairman is Director of 1Foot 2Foot Centre for Foot and Ankle Care and owner of The Shoe Fits in Suffolk, VA. (757) 934-0768.