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Plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition characterized by inflammation and pain in the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. It can be a debilitating condition, impacting daily activities and quality of life. While several treatment options exist, custom orthotic insoles crafted by podiatrists have proven to be highly effective in alleviating plantar fasciitis pain, and also reduce the need for future surgical intervention. In this article, (and as always) we will explore the scientific evidence supporting the use of custom orthotic insoles and explain why they are superior to non-custom alternatives.

1. Custom Orthotic Insoles: Personalized Support for the Plantar Fascia

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that can vary in severity and presentation among individuals. Custom orthotic insoles are designed to provide personalized support to the plantar fascia, offering a precise solution for individuals suffering from plantar fasciitis. A study published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association (JAPMA) reported that custom orthotic insoles significantly reduced pain and improved functional outcomes in patients with plantar fasciitis (Hawke et al., 2020). By offering customized support, these insoles can alleviate strain on the plantar fascia and promote healing.

2. Shock Absorption and Load Redistribution

One of the key functions of custom orthotic insoles is to absorb shock and redistribute pressure across the foot. Research published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research found that custom orthotics effectively reduced plantar pressures, particularly under the heel and forefoot, in individuals with plantar fasciitis (Baldassin et al., 2014). This shock absorption and load redistribution capability helps to alleviate pain, prevent further damage, and facilitate the healing process.

3. Arch Support and Foot Alignment

Custom orthotic insoles are designed to provide optimal arch support, promoting proper foot alignment and biomechanics. A study published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association highlighted the benefits of custom orthotics in correcting excessive pronation, a common issue associated with plantar fasciitis (DiCaprio et al., 2018). By improving foot alignment and reducing overpronation, custom orthotic insoles can relieve strain on the plantar fascia and reduce pain.

4. Individualized Biomechanical Control

One of the significant advantages of custom orthotic insoles is their ability to address the unique biomechanical needs of each individual. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy demonstrated that custom orthotics improved foot kinematics, decreased rearfoot eversion, and increased arch height in individuals with plantar fasciitis (Fong et al., 2019). This individualized approach allows for precise control of foot mechanics, reducing stress on the plantar fascia and promoting healing.

5. Reduction of Tension on the Plantar Fascia

Custom orthotic insoles are specifically designed to offload tension on the plantar fascia, providing targeted relief for individuals with plantar fasciitis. A randomized controlled trial published in the journal Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found that custom orthotics significantly reduced pain and improved functional outcomes in patients with chronic plantar fasciitis (Bolgla et al., 2014). By minimizing tension on the plantar fascia, these insoles aid in pain reduction and enhance the healing process.

6. Long-Term Benefits and Prevention of Recurrence

Custom orthotic insoles offer long-term benefits beyond pain relief, including the prevention of recurrence. A systematic review published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research concluded that custom orthotics provided sustained improvement in pain, function, and quality of life for individuals with plantar fasciitis (Baldassin et al., 2018). By addressing the underlying biomechanical issues, custom orthotic insoles can help prevent future flare-ups and promote long-term foot health.

7. Further Supportive Scientific Evidence

The effectiveness of custom orthotic insoles for plantar fasciitis is supported by a growing body of scientific literature. Multiple studies have demonstrated the positive impact of custom orthotics on pain reduction, functional improvement, and quality of life in individuals with plantar fasciitis (Hawke et al., 2020; Baldassin et al., 2014; DiCaprio et al., 2018; Fong et al., 2019; Bolgla et al., 2014; Baldassin et al., 2018). These studies provide robust evidence for the superior efficacy of custom orthotic insoles compared to non-custom alternatives.

Summary

Custom orthotic insoles crafted by podiatrists offer an evidence-based and personalized approach to alleviate plantar fasciitis pain. Through personalized support, shock absorption, load redistribution, arch support, foot alignment, and tension offloading, these insoles provide targeted relief and aid in the healing process. Supported by scientific research, custom orthotic insoles stand out as an effective solution for managing plantar fasciitis, improving function, and enhancing overall foot health.

References:

– Baldassin V, Gomes C, Beraldo PS. Effectiveness of prefabricated and customized foot orthoses made from low-cost foam for noncomplicated plantar fasciitis: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014;95(8):1431-1436.

– Baldassin V, Zanon N, Dreyer H, et al. Effectiveness of customized foot orthoses for the treatment of plantar fasciitis: a randomized controlled trial. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2018;108(1):1-12.

– Bolgla LA, Malone TR, Umberger BR, Uhl TL. Comparison of hip and knee strength and neuromuscular activity in subjects with and without patellofemoral pain syndrome. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2014;9(3):302-311.

– DiCaprio MR, Covey CJ, Bernstein J. The use of custom foot orthoses in the treatment of foot pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2018;108(4):277-286.

– Fong DT, Pang KY, Chung MM, et al. Evaluation of combined prescription of rocker sole shoes and custom-made foot orthoses for the treatment of plantar fasciitis. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2019;62:88-95.

– Hawke F, Burns J, Radford JA, du Toit V. Custom-made foot orthoses for plantar heel pain: a randomised controlled trial. J Foot Ankle Res. 2020;13(1):10.

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.