The role of foot orthoses as an intervention for patellofemoral pain

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2003 Nov;33(11):661-70. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2003.33.11.661.


Foot orthoses often are prescribed for patients with patellofemoral pain. The purpose of this clinical commentary is to review the theoretical and research basis that might support this intervention and to provide our own clinical experience in providing foot orthoses for these patients. Literature is reviewed regarding (1) the effects of foot orthoses on pain and function, (2) the relationship between foot and lower-extremity/patellofemoral joint mechanics, (3) the effects of foot orthoses on lower-extremity mechanics, and (4) the effects of foot orthoses on patellofemoral joint position. The literature and our own clinical experience suggest that patients with patellofemoral pain may benefit from foot orthoses if they also demonstrate signs of excessive foot pronation and/or a lower-extremity alignment profile that includes excessive lower-extremity internal rotation during weight bearing and increased Q angle. The mechanism for foot orthoses having a positive effect on pain and function for these patients may include (1) a reduction in internal rotation of the lower extremity; (2) a reduction in Q angle; (3) reduced laterally-directed soft tissue forces from the patellar tendon, the quadriceps tendon, and the iliotibial band; and (4) reduced patellofemoral contact pressures and altered patellofemoral contact pressure mapping. Foot orthoses may be a valuable adjunct to other intervention strategies for patients who present with the previously stated structural alignment profile.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Femur / physiopathology
  • Foot*
  • Gait / physiology
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / physiopathology
  • Joint Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology*
  • Orthotic Devices*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Patella / physiopathology