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The effectiveness of shoe insoles for the prevention and treatment of low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

PainSci » bibliography » Chuter et al 2014
Tags: treatment, orthotics, back pain, foot, bad news, leg, limbs, pain problems, biomechanics, etiology, pro, self-treatment, devices, spine

Five articles on PainSci cite Chuter 2014: 1. The Complete Guide to IT Band Syndrome2. The Complete Guide to Low Back Pain3. The Complete Guide to Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome4. Shin Splints Treatment, The Complete Guide5. Are Orthotics Worth It?

PainSci commentary on Chuter 2014: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

The evidence available on this topic — so far, such as it is, just a few small trials — suggests that insoles or foot orthoses do not prevent or treat back pain, which is hardly a surprise. Technically the evidence is just inadequate and inconclusive, but the absence of any benefit in the small trials done so far is damning.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

BACKGROUND: Low back pain (LBP) is a significant public health problem in Western industrialised countries and has been reported to affect up to 80% of adults at some stage in their lives. It is associated with high health care utilisation costs, disability, work loss and restriction of social activities. An intervention of foot orthoses or insoles has been suggested to reduce the risk of developing LBP and be an effective treatment strategy for people suffering from LBP. However, despite the common usage of orthoses and insoles, there is a lack of clear guidelines for their use in relation to LBP. The aim of this review is to investigate the effectiveness of foot orthoses and insoles in the prevention and treatment of non specific LBP.

METHODS: A systematic search of MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE and The Cochrane Library was conducted in May 2013. Two authors independently reviewed and selected relevant randomised controlled trials. Quality was evaluated using the Cochrane Collaboration Risk of Bias Tool and the Downs and Black Checklist. Meta-analysis of study data were conducted where possible.

RESULTS: Eleven trials were included: five trials investigated the treatment of LBP (n=293) and six trials examined the prevention of LBP (n=2379) through the use of foot orthoses or insoles. Meta-analysis showed no significant effect in favour of the foot orthoses or insoles for either the treatment trials (standardised mean difference (SMD) -0.74, CI 95%: -1.5 to 0.03) or the prevention trials (relative risk (RR) 0.78, CI 95%: 0.50 to 1.23).

CONCLUSIONS: There is insufficient evidence to support the use of insoles or foot orthoses as either a treatment for LBP or in the prevention of LBP. The small number, moderate methodological quality and the high heterogeneity of the available trials reduce the strength of current findings. Future research should concentrate on identification of LBP patients most suited to foot orthoses or insole treatment, as there is some evidence that trials structured along these lines have a greater effect on reducing LBP.

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