Foot orthotics are generally safe, although the wrong orthotic may aggravate foot pain. Fortunately, the solution is relatively simple: remove the orthotic!
Several studies have indicated that both prefabricated and custom orthotics reduce foot and heel pain in patients with PF. One study suggested prefabricated orthotics were more effective than custom ones, but both provided clinically significant relief of foot pain. Another study found that about 85% of patients were happy with their results, while 15 % were dissatisfied or neutral.
Jordan A, Stanek J. Effect of Foot Orthoses as Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis or Heel Pain Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, 2013, 22, 130-136
Pfeffer G, Bacchetti P, Deland J, Lewis A, Anderson R, Davis W, Alvarez R, Brodsky J, Cooper P, Frey C, Herrick R, Myerson M, Sammarco J, Janecki C, Ross S, Bowman M, Smith R. Comparison of custom and prefabricated orthoses in the initial treatment of proximal plantar fasciitis. Foot Ankle Int. 1999 Apr;20(4):214-21.
Taheri A, Jafarian FS, Sadeghi-Demneh E, Bahmani F (2015) The effects of Foot Orthoses on Pain Management of People with Plantar Fasciitis. Clin Res Foot Ankle 3:174. doi:10.4172/2329- 910X.1000174
Schwartz EN, Su J. Plantar Fasciitis: A Concise Review. The Permanente Journal. 2014;18(1):e105-e107. doi:10.7812/TPP/13-113.
Wheeler P, Boyd K, Shipton M. Surgery for Patients With Recalcitrant Plantar Fasciitis
Good Results at Short-, Medium-, and Long-term Follow-up. Ortho J Sports Med 2014, 2:3.
SELF CARE: 5/5
Surgery for plantar fasciitis can only be performed by a surgeon.
Prefabricated orthotics can be purchased for $20-15 dollars and custom orthotics can range from $200-$600 per pair.
USEFULNESS (overall rating): 4/5
Orthotics are often seen as a front-line treatment for plantar fasciitis. They have evidence of effectiveness and few if any negative side effects. Costs can vary but are generally reasonable. Our take it that most patients with plantar fasciitis should try orthotics. If you begin with inexpensive prefabricated orthotics and note little improvement, see your health care provide and ask about custom orthotics.