Over-the-counter shoe insoles could be just as effective as custom-made ones for treating heel pain, according to new research.
The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found no difference between the cheaper products and is advising doctors to stop prescribing the custom models for patients with plantar heel pain.
The most commonly prescribed treatments for plantar pain include modified footwear, stretching exercises and anti-inflammatory agents, but there is still a lack of consensus on which treatments are most effective.
Dutch and Danish researchers set out to investigate the effects of orthoses on pain, function and recovery in patients with plantar heel pain and compared them with other treatments.
They analysed 20 existing studies which had investigated eight different types of foot orthoses, looking at 1,756 patients with plantar heel pain.
The researchers found no difference between prefabricated orthoses and simple insoles bought over-the-counter for pain in the short term.
Plantar heel pain accounts for between 11 and 15 per cent of all foot symptoms that require medical attention in adults and for eight to ten per cent of all running-related injuries.
Study author Dr Nadine Rasenberg, of Erasmus Medical Centre in The Netherlands, said:: "Foot orthoses are not superior for improving pain and function compared with sham or other orthoses, or other conservative interventions in patients with plantar heel pain."
She added: "We conclude that clinicians should be reserved in prescribing foot orthoses in all patients with PHP and take factors like patient preference and adherence into account."