Feet Can't Tell Difference Between Orthotics

Off-the-shelf brands as good as custom-made ones, study finds

FRIDAY, July 30, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Off-the-shelf orthotic devices -- orthoses -- may be as effective as custom-made orthoses, says a study in the July issue of Foot and Ankle International.

The study included more than 870 Israeli army recruits who were given either customized or off-the-shelf orthtoses to wear during their 14 weeks of basic training. They were monitored for symptoms related to problems with their feet, including sprains and stress fractures.

The study found no significant difference in the incidence of stress fractures, ankle sprains or any other foot problems between the recruits who used the expensive custom-made orthoses and those who used the cheaper off-the-shelf ones.

"The findings of this study suggest that if an orthoses is being dispensed as prophylaxis in a physically active population, and not designed to treat a specific biomechanical abnormality, then there is little economic justification for prescribing semi-rigid biomechanical orthoses," study chief investigator Dr. Charles Milgrom said in a prepared statement.

"Their cost is high without advantages in comfort, patient acceptance and reduction in the incidence of stress fractures, ankle sprains and foot problems," Milgrom said.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about orthotic devices.

SOURCE: American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, news release, July 25, 2004
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