When Orthotics Are Indicated And Why They Are Overused

Over the last five years, the use of orthotics has exponentially increased and with this increase, you’ll see a great deal of criticism about the overuse of orthotics.

Websites cite oversupination and overpronation (your feet 


roll outwardly or inwardly as you walk) as a reason for using orthotics. What they do not explain is that oversupination and overpronation are merely observations. The question is; why do feet behave in this manner?  What is the diagnosis (the cause) that forces your feet to roll outwardly or inwardly?  It’s not appropriate to use orthotics without knowing why your feet are moving in this abnormal manner, as doing so can create more harm than good.

An analogy is the often criticized overuse of antibiotics. When your child has a throat infection and you take them to the doctor, frequently they prescribe antibiotics without first running the appropriate tests to find out the cause of the sore throat. The child’s sore throat can be due to a bacterial infection, viral infection or simply an allergic reaction to something they ate or breathed in.

Antibiotics are useful for a bacterial infection but totally ineffective for a viral infection or allergy. This indiscriminate use of antibiotics not only exposes your child to a possible side reaction to the drugs but also, using them indiscriminately for every little problem, ends up with pathogens gaining immunity to the drugs and making them ineffective.

The same thing can be said about the indiscriminate use of orthotics.   There are many conditions that can force your feet to roll inwards, outwards or even flatten as you walk, such as; weak arches due to a torn or ruptured arch ligament, ligamentous injuries to your ankle, certain systemic diseases (i.e., Cerebral Palsy and Polio) and/or infectious diseases, or an abnormal foot structure, such as the Rothbarts Foot or PreClinical Clubfoot Deformity.


When Orthotics Are Indicated And When They Are Not

Orthotics are indicated when you need to support a flattening of the arch resulting from ligamentous instability. Orthotics may be indicated for certain systemic and/or infectious diseases, in order to help you walk. 


Orthotics are never indicated to treat chronic muscle and joint pain caused by the Rothbarts Foot or PreClinical Clubfoot Deformity.

The bottom line is that orthotics are being overused without regard to due diligence. The cause of your problem must first be determined and then, if orthotics are indicated; specific orthotics must be prescribed by a competent physician for your specific problem.