The Use of Foot Orthotics in the Treatment of Chronic Low-Back Pain

This study sought to determine the effectiveness of orthotic intervention in the alleviation of low-back pain, specifically sagittal plane blockage, in 32 subjects with a long history of back pain.

The Quebec Back Pain Disability Scale questionnaire was used to assess the level of functional disability in each patient; with patients being asked to complete it in three stages - before treatment (Time 1), after wearing orthotics for a month (Time 2) and after wearing orthotics for at least six months (Time 3).

Considered as an accurate measurement tool for studies, the questionnaire asked subjects to rate 20 daily activities on a scale from 0 to 5, with 0 being the easiest and 5 being the most difficult.

The scores were converted into a mean pain score which was compared at different times in order to measure the increase or decrease in the subject’s back pain.

The initial phase of the study recorded 27 of the patients experiencing a statistically significant improvement in alleviation of pain, with a mean reduction of 0.66 and a standard deviation of 0.78 in the disability score.

Subjects in the follow-up phase also reported an improvement, with a mean reduction of 0.66 and a standard deviation of 0.92.

Within this subset of participants, the mean reduction after the initial phase of the study was recorded as 0.66 and the standard deviation was 0.72.

Compared to a previous study conducted by Kopec et al., using the same questionnaire for patients undergoing standard back-pain treatments, improvement was found to be nearly two times greater and over a time period that was more than twice as long.

Hence, custom-made orthotics were proven to be more effective in improving symptoms related to low-back pain compared to standard care methods.


  1. Howard J. Dananberg, Michelle Guiliano (1999) Chronic Low-Back Pain and Its Response to Custom-Made Foot Orthoses. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association: March 1999, Vol. 89, No. 3, pp. 109-117

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