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Pain After Wearing Orthotics: Reasons and How to Stop It

Babafemi Adebajo
By Babafemi Adebajo
Joel Taylor
Reviewed by Joel Taylor

Published December 31, 2021.

Woman removing insoles from shoes

Orthotics are prescribed to bring pain relief by providing comfort, support, or cushioning as the case or condition may require. Sometimes, however, instead of relieving pain, the use of orthotics causes more pain. This article looks at why this might happen, as well as what you can do to relieve this pain.

Why You May Feel Pain after Wearing Orthotics

While some level of discomfort is expected when you use orthotics (especially with newly fitted orthotics), you shouldn’t feel pain. However, sometimes this is not the case. If you do feel pain after wearing orthotics, it is likely due to one of the following reasons:

1. Orthotic was not properly designed or fitted

A custom orthotic is ideal for the best effect. When you use improperly fitting orthotics, it is usually because you have chosen store-bought orthotics or that the orthotic wasn’t made with the right process. A comprehensive biomechanical assessment is required along with your foot impression by a foot-care specialist or a podiatrist before your orthotic can be made.

2. Improper footwear

When you use your orthotic with improper footwear, it can cause pain and even make the initial problem worse.

3. Not breaking in your orthotic properly

When you newly purchase an orthotic, you must be careful not to use it for too long too soon. If you use your orthotics for too long before your body adjusts to it, you will likely feel pain.

How Long Does It Take to Adjust to Custom Orthotics?

Used properly, a custom orthotic will not cause pain. However, there is a break-in period during which your body needs to adjust to them. The length of this period will vary from person to person, though it generally takes about 2-4 weeks.

During this period, you should plan to wear them regularly but not for too long. You should start by wearing the orthotics for only one hour daily and progressively increase the time until you can wear them all day without incidence or pain.

Typical Side Effects from Orthotic Use

While nothing is ever absolutely risk-free, high-quality orthotics come with lesser instances of side effects. However, side effects from the use of orthotics can include the following:

  • Increased soreness Orthotics may cause muscle soreness by making your muscles work harder than usual. This is usually the case when the orthotic does not conform to your natural body stride.
  • Altered mechanics Again, orthotics can alter the mechanics of the body. This is particularly true of orthotics that only provide minimal support, which can lead to postural changes and increase the risk of injury.
  • Compensatory injuries To balance body mechanics, sometimes, there may be compensations in ipsilateral or contralateral limbs. This increases pressure on that area and can lead to compensatory injuries.
  • Loss of sensation With tight-fitting orthotics, there may be a loss of sensation at high-pressure areas. Ensure that you check pressure areas often and be careful with orthotics that fit too tightly.

How to Prevent Pain from Wearing Orthotics

Allow your body to adjust slowly to your new orthotics to avoid pain. No matter the type of orthotics, it will usually take 2-4 weeks. During this period, you should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Aim to wear them for up to one hour initially and then increase as it becomes less uncomfortable.
  • Do not use orthotics for strenuous physical activity until you’re comfortable enough to use them.
  • Give yourself some rest between the periods when you use the orthotics to allow your body to recover and adapt.
  • Consider adjusting the orthotics if, after a minimum of 3 weeks, your body isn’t adjusting. Get your orthotics adjusted. After 3 weeks, you should feel accustomed to your orthotics.
  • Maintain the orthotics properly. Over time, wear and tear will set in but maintenance can prolong their lifespan. Maintenance is also important because wear and tear of the orthotics can affect the body mechanics.

Are Custom Orthotics Worth It?

If your foot care specialist or podiatrist prescribes an orthotic, then you likely need one. And while you may be quick to consider an over-the-counter orthotic because it is less expensive, custom orthotics are worth every penny.

Not only can you get reimbursement from your health insurance, custom orthotics like Upstep’s are more cost-effective in the long term because of their high quality and durability. Upstep orthotics are not only cost-effective, but they are also very effective in dealing with any foot conditions that warrant their use. And by simply sending your foot impressions, you can have one custom-made and shipped to your location.

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