Unsure if you need orthotics? Schedule your free online evaluation.

Table of Contents


Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that affects the peripheral nerves, leading to symptoms such as tingling, numbness, and pain in the extremities, including the feet. Orthotics, specialized devices worn inside shoes, can play a crucial role in managing the symptoms and improving the quality of life for individuals with peripheral neuropathy. In this article, we will explore the benefits, types, effectiveness, considerations, and tips related to orthotics specifically designed for peripheral neuropathy.

Understanding Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage or dysfunction of the peripheral nerves, which are responsible for transmitting signals between the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the rest of the body, including the extremities. Common causes of peripheral neuropathy include diabetes, autoimmune diseases, infections, trauma, and exposure to toxins.

Benefits of Orthotics

Orthotics offer several benefits for individuals with peripheral neuropathy:

  • Pressure Redistribution: Orthotics can help distribute pressure more evenly across the feet, reducing the risk of developing pressure ulcers or sores.
  • Improved Stability: By providing support and alignment, orthotics can enhance stability and reduce the risk of falls, which is especially important for individuals with neuropathy-related balance issues.
  • Pain Relief: Cushioned orthotics can help reduce pain associated with peripheral neuropathy by providing shock absorption and cushioning for sensitive areas of the feet.
  • Prevention of Deformities: Orthotics can help prevent or slow down the progression of foot deformities that may occur due to neuropathy-related muscle weakness or altered gait patterns.

Types of Orthotics

There are various types of orthotics available for individuals with peripheral neuropathy:

  • Cushioned Insoles: These provide extra cushioning and shock absorption, reducing pressure on the feet and improving comfort.
  • Arch Support Orthotics: Designed to support the arches of the feet, these orthotics can improve foot alignment and reduce strain on the plantar fascia.
  • Custom-Made Orthotics: These are specially crafted based on a detailed assessment of the individual’s foot structure and gait pattern, providing tailored support and correction.
  • Ankle-Foot Orthoses (AFOs): AFOs are more substantial orthotic devices that extend from the ankle to the foot, providing support, stability, and alignment correction for individuals with more severe neuropathy-related foot and ankle issues.

How Orthotics Work

Orthotics work by altering the biomechanics of the feet and lower limbs, aiming to reduce stress and strain on specific areas. They provide support, cushioning, and alignment correction, which can improve overall foot function and reduce pain. For example, arch support orthotics can help distribute weight more evenly across the foot, reducing excessive pressure on certain areas.

Considerations When Using Orthotics

When using orthotics for peripheral neuropathy, it’s essential to consider the following factors:

  • Proper Fit: Ensure that the orthotics fit well inside your shoes and provide adequate support without causing discomfort or pressure points.
  • Gradual Adaptation: Allow your feet some time to adjust to wearing orthotics, especially if you are transitioning to a new type or design.
  • Footwear Selection: Choose shoes that are compatible with orthotics and provide enough room and support to accommodate them.
  • Regular Maintenance: Keep your orthotics clean and in good condition, and replace them as recommended by your healthcare provider or when they show signs of wear.

Effectiveness of Orthotics

Orthotics have been shown to be effective in managing symptoms and improving functional outcomes in individuals with peripheral neuropathy. Studies have demonstrated that properly fitted orthotics can reduce pain, improve stability, and enhance overall foot function. Custom-made orthotics, in particular, are tailored to individual needs and can provide optimal support and correction.

Research Findings and Studies

Research on orthotics for peripheral neuropathy has shown promising results. A study published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association found that custom orthotics significantly reduced foot pain and improved walking ability in individuals with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Another study in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development highlighted the benefits of AFOs in improving balance and reducing falls in neuropathic patients.

Tips for Using Orthotics

Here are some tips for using orthotics effectively:

  • Consistent Wear: Wear your orthotics consistently as recommended by your healthcare provider to maximize their benefits.
  • Monitor Foot Health: Regularly check your feet for any signs of irritation, blisters, or redness while using orthotics, and address any issues promptly.
  • Combine with Exercise: Incorporate foot and ankle exercises recommended by your healthcare provider to complement the benefits of orthotics and improve overall foot strength and flexibility.
  • Follow-up Appointments: Schedule regular follow-up appointments with your podiatrist or orthopedic specialist to assess the effectiveness of your orthotics and make any necessary adjustments.


Orthotics are valuable tools in managing peripheral neuropathy-related foot problems by providing support, cushioning, and alignment correction. Whether using cushioned insoles, arch support orthotics, custom-made devices, or ankle-foot orthoses, individuals with peripheral neuropathy can benefit from improved stability, reduced pain, and enhanced overall foot function. It’s essential to work closely with healthcare professionals to ensure proper fitting, usage, and maintenance of orthotics for optimal therapeutic outcomes.

Always seek professional advice and follow personalized recommendations based on your specific peripheral neuropathy condition and foot health needs.