When you think of the knee, it is the middle of the “Kinetic chain” consisting of the foot, ankle, knee, and hip. When you affect one joint in this chain, you effect the function of the joints above and below the aberrant function.
Foot orthotics is a term that describes any devise, arch support or insole that changes the biomechanics of the foot. They can often improve knee pain in a number of ways.
1) They can change the distribution of force through the foot ant ankle which then changes the forces placed upon the knee.
2) They also act as cushions that reduce the overall forces passed through the foot and ankle through the attenuation of impact in our normal gait.
3) They also alter the alignment of the foot and ankle that then alters the alignment of the knee. Improving the alignment and function of the foot often translates into a reduction of knee pain through this improved overall function of the lower kinetic chain.
Orthotics come in a wide variety. From the custom variety to the over the counter models that you can get at drugstores and sporting goods stores.
The choices also include three varieties, soft, semi rigid and rigid. Soft orthotics are the best for cushioning and counter to their name they provide ample support and stability in most situations. The argument against them is they wear out faster but the cost is half of the cost of rigid so it seems a good trade. I chose to make only the soft ones due to their positive impact on gait and comfort. There are some who argue that semi-rigid provide more stability but I haven’t seen any research that says this is true. The rigid orthotics are for “Maximal support” but there are so many pairs collecting dust bunnies on the floors of closets across America that I have never seen any value in them. They are very uncomfortable and hence patient compliance is low.
The drawbacks of orthotics are: They won’t fit in all your shoes. Some people say there is a break in period of getting used to them. If they are uncomfortable there are adjustments that can be made in some instances to improve on the comfort level. They do not help all types of knee pain but due to their non-invasive nature, in many cases they should be considered prior to surgery as part of a knee pain rehabilitation plan.
You can read more about orthotics at: https://www.facebook.com/notes/10151560460427321/
And even more at: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/114175175942519801192/+Edcampchiropractic/posts