Article reprinted from the Associated Press about the effectiveness of foot insole products.
$10 Foot Pads Stomp Heel Pain
By Malcolm Ritter, Science Writer, The Associated Press
NEW YORK- For millions of Americans who want relief from heel pain, over-the-counter pads that sell for $10 or so work better than custom-made shoe inserts that cost hundreds of dollars, a study found.
Heel pain is the most common reason people go to a foot doctor, and many doctors start treatment with the custom-made device. But the new work suggests that most sufferers may not have to see a doctor at all.
Starting treatment with over-the-counter pads could save more than $200 million a year in health care costs, said study director Dr. Glen Pfeffer, head of the San Francisco Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Center.
The results were described recently by Dr. Carol Frey, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Southern California and a study co-author, at a presentation sponsored by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
The study was financed by companies that make the three over-the-counter pads used in the study by the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society.
The researchers emphasized that the study dealt only with pain relief gained during the first eight weeks of a treatment that can take a year. Longer studies will be needed to see if the results hold up, they said.
The study focused on plantar fasciitis, the major cause of heel pain. It causes a dull or stabbing pain similar to walking with a stone under the heel.
Pfeffer said perhaps 2 million or so cases get treated every year in the United States, while several million others with the disorder don't go to a doctor.
After eight weeks:
- 72 percent of patients who just did the exercises reported at least some pain relief.
- those who also used the custom-made inserts did no better.
- 95 percent of silicone pad users, 88 percent of those using the heel cup and 81 percent of patients using the felt arch support said they had gotten at least some relief.