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Can Orthotics Cause Knee Pain

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Orthotics, custom-made or over-the-counter shoe inserts, are often prescribed to address various foot and lower limb issues. While they can be incredibly helpful for many people, there is a question that arises: “Can Orthotics Cause Knee Pain?” In this article, we explore the potential link between orthotics and knee pain, as well as the factors that might contribute to this issue.

Understanding Orthotics

Before we delve into the potential connection between orthotics and knee pain, let’s first understand what orthotics are and what purpose they serve:

Orthotics are specially designed inserts or devices that can be custom-made or bought over the counter. Their primary role is to provide support and alleviate various foot and lower limb problems. Orthotics aim to improve comfort, reduce pain, and enhance mobility by addressing conditions such as flat feet, high arches, or gait abnormalities.

Orthotics and Knee Pain

Orthotics are primarily intended to improve foot and lower limb function, but they can indirectly affect other areas of the body, including the knees. Knee pain associated with orthotics is not a common occurrence, but it can happen. The relationship between orthotics and knee pain can be attributed to various factors, including:

Possible Causes of Knee Pain from Orthotics

Several factors may contribute to knee pain when using orthotics:

1. Improper Alignment and Knee Stress: If orthotics are not aligned correctly with your feet and lower limbs, they can lead to altered biomechanics, which may result in knee pain.

2. Overuse and Transition Period: The sudden introduction of orthotics or overuse without allowing the body to adapt can lead to stress on the knees.

3. Gait Changes and Knee Pain: Orthotics can modify your walking or running gait, and if not correctly managed, this change may lead to knee discomfort due to altered knee mechanics.

Improper Alignment and Knee Stress

One of the potential causes of knee pain related to orthotics is improper alignment. Here are some key considerations:

1. Consult a Specialist: To ensure that your orthotics are correctly aligned with your feet and lower limbs, consult with a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist. They can assess your foot structure and gait to recommend the right type of orthotic for you.

2. Regular Check-ups: Periodically visit your healthcare provider to review the alignment and effectiveness of your orthotics. Adjustments may be necessary to ensure they are providing the intended support.

Overuse and Transition Period

Another potential cause of knee pain related to orthotics is overuse, especially during the initial transition period. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Gradual Introduction: When you start using orthotics, your body needs time to adapt to the changes in foot support and gait. It’s essential to allow for a gradual adjustment period, especially if you are transitioning from non-supportive footwear.

2. Monitoring Activity Level: Engaging in excessive physical activity or extended periods of standing or walking with orthotics in the early stages can lead to overuse and knee discomfort. Pay attention to your activity level and make adjustments as needed.

Gait Changes and Knee Pain

Orthotics can impact your gait, which is your unique walking or running pattern. Changes in your gait can influence knee mechanics and potentially lead to discomfort. Here’s what to be aware of:

1. Gait Analysis: Consider undergoing a gait analysis with a qualified professional. This analysis can identify any gait abnormalities and help tailor your orthotics to your specific needs.

2. Muscle Strengthening: To prevent knee pain due to altered mechanics, engage in exercises that strengthen the muscles around your knees. This can help maintain proper knee alignment.

Seeking Professional Guidance

If you experience knee pain related to your orthotics, it’s vital to seek professional guidance. Here are some steps to consider:

1. Consult a Healthcare Provider: If you’re experiencing knee pain, consult with a healthcare provider, such as a podiatrist, orthopedic specialist, or physical therapist. They can assess the issue and recommend appropriate solutions.

2. Orthotic Evaluation: Have your orthotics evaluated to ensure they are correctly aligned and providing the necessary support. Adjustments may be necessary to address the issue.

Preventing Knee Pain from Orthotics

Preventing knee pain associated with orthotics involves taking proactive steps to ensure a positive experience. Here’s what you can do:

1. Properly Fit Orthotics: Work with a healthcare provider to ensure your orthotics are well-fitted and tailored to your specific needs.

2. Gradual Use: Introduce orthotics gradually and allow your body to adjust over time. Avoid overuse in the initial stages.

3. Monitor Knee Comfort: Pay attention to any discomfort or pain in your knees when using orthotics. If you experience knee pain, seek professional guidance promptly.

Exploring Alternatives

If knee pain persists despite efforts to address the issue, you may need to explore alternative solutions, such as:

1. Orthotic Adjustments: If you have custom orthotics, they can often be adjusted to better suit your needs and alleviate knee discomfort.

2. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help address muscle imbalances and gait issues that may be contributing to knee pain.


Orthotics are valuable tools for addressing various foot and lower limb issues, but their use may sometimes lead to knee pain due to factors like improper alignment, overuse, and gait changes. If you experience knee discomfort while using orthotics, it’s crucial to seek professional guidance to address the issue effectively. With the right support and adjustments, you can enjoy the benefits of orthotics without knee pain.

Key Takeaways

Understanding the potential causes of knee pain related to orthotics and taking steps to prevent and address the issue is essential for a positive orthotic experience. Keep these key takeaways in mind:

1. Gradual adjustment to orthotics is important to prevent overuse and discomfort.

2. Ensure that your orthotics are properly aligned with your feet and lower limbs by consulting with a healthcare provider.

3. Be aware of gait changes that may occur and consider a gait analysis if necessary.

4. Seek professional guidance if you experience knee pain while using orthotics.

Expert Advice on Orthotics and Knee Pain

We reached out to Dr. Emily Turner, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, for her insights on the relationship between orthotics and knee pain:

“Orthotics can be incredibly beneficial, but it’s crucial to ensure that they are properly fitted and aligned. Knee pain can occur if the alignment is off or if the transition period is not managed well. Consult with a healthcare provider if you experience knee discomfort while using orthotics, as adjustments or alternative solutions may be necessary.”

About the Author

Dr. Zac Cartun

After graduating medical school from the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Zac Cartun consulted for health-tech companies expanding medical care. Since earning his M.B.A from Wharton X INSEAD, he is now bringing orthopedic and podiatric care to the home.