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Are Orthotics Bad For You?

are orthotics bad for you

If you or a loved one have ever had any issue with foot pain, it's possible that either you were recommended to buy orthotics, or possibly purchased a pair in your local pharmacy or shoe store. Medicine is always an ever-evolving science and art. One of the more common questions that have been brought up more and more in the last couple of years when the discussion or orthotics are brought up in regards to certain foot pain issues is, "Are orthotics bad for you?"

  • Orthotics are an important tool in fighting foot pain, but for certain causes of foot pain, they should not be used forever. The doctor you seek on treating your foot pain must have the knowledge and experience to know if orthotics are a temporary vs long-term term-or lifelong solution to your foot problems. Also if it is decided that your wearing orthotics is a temporary treatment, muscle strengthing exercises be prescribed by your clinician to safely transition you away from your orthotics, to prevent pain from returning.

Are Orthotics Bad For You?

What Is An Orthotic?

First, let's look into the definition of orthotics or the definition of an orthotic from the Oxford Dictionary.




  1. the branch of medicine that deals with the provision and use of artificial devices such as splints and braces. This answer is nuanced and will be different from person to person.

are orthotics bad for you
An AFO or Ankle Foot Orthosis, technically also an orthotic




plural noun: orthotics

  1. an artificial support or brace for the limbs or spine.

So, in simpler terms, an orthotic is a type of splint or brace. Splints or braces, limit or stop movement of a body part to ideally prevent pain.

For the discussion in this blog post, when the word "orthotic" is mentioned, we will be discussing specifically shoe inserts, or insoles, used to treat foot pain.

How Are Orthotics Used?

Orthotics are commonly prescribed and used for many types of foot pain like heel pain, or pain in the ball of the foot, which can have many causes like plantar fasciitis, arthritis, or Morton's neuroma.

Orthotics are also used in patients with diabetes, neuropathy, or poor circulation to provide protection and additional padding to the sole of their foot, to lower the risk of developing a foot ulcer, and possible life-threatening infection or amputation.

Orthotics have the ability to remove or redirect pressure or forces to certain areas of the foot, allowing those tissues to begin the healing process.

Potential Issues with Orthotics

are orthotics bad for you

Orthotics, like many other treatment options or modalities in medicine, come when they are prescribed incorrectly.

For example, for someone who has been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, an orthotic is used to direct forces away from the heel, specifically the insertion of plantar fascia to lower pain and inflammation. An orthotic can be used to place the foot in proper alignment, which can allow structures like the plantar fascia in this example to receive less tension, and therefore less inflammation and pain.

The issue with orthotics in the above example case of plantar fasciitis, or with other specific types of foot pain, is that the patient can and should slowly be weaned off, or transitioned away from the orthotic, once the pain and inflammation quiets down. This is done through a step-wise approach in several ways including tailored strength training, and correcting any causes of chronic inflammation so that these structures can finally heal and become pain-free.

For many types of foot pain, it's much better to wear the orthotic until your symptoms get better, then under the guidance of a foot doctor or clinician, slowly transition away from the orthotic.

Key Takeaways: Are Orthotics Bad For You?

So in keeping all of this in mind, an orthotic is a type of splint or brace. Ideally, you do not want to splint or brace your foot forever, except in certain cases like diabetes, neuropathy, peripheral vascular disease, Charcot foot, or tarsal coalition to name a few of the conditions that yes an orthotic should be used indefinitely. If you have questions about your orthotics, or whether orthotics are right for you, speak to a knowledgeable foot doctor in your area.

Schedule Your Appointment At Direct Podiatry Arizona

Are you in the Phoenix area and wondering if orthotics are right for you? My name is Dr. Tarr, and I am the owner of Direct Podiatry Arizona in Tempe. To view my available appointment times for a free consultation, click here.

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