Shoe Insoles Don't Appear to Prevent Back Pain

Review finds strong evidence against insoles for prevention; insufficient evidence on treatment
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- Shoe insoles do not appear to be effective for preventing back pain, and limited evidence neither supports nor discourages their use for treating low back pain, according to research published April 20 in Spine.

Tali Sahar, M.D., of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of six randomized controlled trials. Three of these focused on preventing back pain, with 2,061 participants, and another three trials involved 256 subjects with and without back pain at baseline. It was unclear if these latter three were intended for primary or secondary prevention or treatment.

In the prevention trials, which lasted five to 14 weeks and included almost solely men, the authors found no overall significant differences in rates of back pain prevention in those who used insoles compared to those who didn't. The authors couldn't pool data from the other three studies due to clinical heterogeneity, and they suggest that data is insufficient to allow any conclusions on insoles for treatment of low back pain.

"There is strong evidence that insoles are not useful for prevention of back pain. This evidence is stronger for men in military settings. There is limited evidence that insoles might decrease back pain. A proposed adverse event, with limited evidence to support it, is a shift of pain from the back to the lower extremities after insole use," the authors write.

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