5 Shocking Side Effects of Wearing Orthotics

Side effects of wearing orthotics differ depending on where and how you wear them.

Have you been feeling back, hip, knee, or foot pain? And how have you been managing the pain? Ice application, pain reliever, or relaxing your muscles?

While the pain management method may provide relief, it is only temporary. Because of technological advancement, orthotics, a more permanent solution, have become more popular.

However, many people still opt for traditional pain relieving methods for fear of the side effects of wearing orthotics.

Keep reading more of this article to understand the side effects of wearing orthotics.


What are Orthotics?

Orthotics are devices used to correct or improve the function of the skeletal system. They can treat conditions such as scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis, flat feet, back pain, arthritis, and overpronation.

Orthotics are also used to improve posture and relieve pain by reducing tension in the ailing area. 

They come in three types: soft, rigid, and semi-rigid.

Soft orthotics provide extra cushioning when the foot is planted on the ground.

Semi-rigid orthotics are used mainly by flat-footed people. They provide cushioning and stability.

Moreover, rigid orthotics stabilize users and prevent movements that lead to pain.

You can buy them over the counter, while others are prescription-based.

Over-the-counter orthotics can be worn with any shoe. However, custom orthotics are your best option.

Additionally, they can help manage pain from chronic illnesses and conditions that make it difficult to walk, stand or run. Conditions such as diabetes, plantar fasciitis, arthritis, and bursitis.

The Side Effects of Wearing Orthotics

Here are some side effects depending on the type of orthotics you choose.

1. Weakening of the Trunk Muscles

Weakening of the trunk flexor and trunk extensor muscles, which support the lumbar section of the body, is one of the significant side effects of wearing orthotics.

Trunk extensor muscles hold the spine in an extended posture to counter the gravitational force pulling the spine into flexion.

Wearing lumbosacral orthosis (LSO) for longer holds the lumber section while relaxing the muscles.

The result is the general weakness of the muscle and curvature of the spinal cord. According to a National Library of Medicine study, people should reduce use time and work more on lumbar strengthening exercises.

2. Orthotics Can Affect Balance

Have you ever been tied on your joint or hurt your leg so that you couldn’t bend your knee or ankle? How did you move around? It’s difficult, right? 

This is because joints and muscles are the core of maintaining body balance. Many people avoid using orthotics for fear of mobility challenges, a significant side effect of wearing orthotics.

The interference with the balance is because of the non-articulated ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) restriction on movability and input from the muscles, tendons, and tissues around the joint.

Unlike the articulated AFO, which has a mechanical joint to allow ankle movement, the non-articulated AFO does not have a joint.

So, when using the non-articulated AFO, it is difficult to move the ankle. PubMed Central states that loss of balance may cause falls.

Injuries sustained from falls can cause injury or death. As a result, this can lead to financial strains, dependence, and social challenges.

3. Orthotics Use May Cause Pain 

Orthotics come in different shapes, sizes, and qualities to cover the diverse needs of users. To avoid the side effects of wearing orthotics, one needs to understand their needs and what is available in the market.

If the device is not designed correctly to meet your special needs, you will eventually feel pain. Most people realize the ineffectiveness of their orthotics after experiencing pain, heat, or soreness.

4. May Cause Brain Damage

A cervical collar, or C collar, is an orthotic designed to support the neck, head, and spinal cord. These devices restrict the neck from turning.

The C collar comes in different sizes and qualities, and it is paramount to choose the right one. This helps reduce or avoid possible side effects of wearing the orthosis.

A study published in the National Library of Medicine concluded that one main side effect of wearing orthotics on the neck (cervical collars) is that they immobilize the cervical spine variably.

As a result, it may influence venous compression, which causes increased pressure inside your skull. High pressure can injure your brain or the spinal cord.

In recent years, many experts are advising against using c-collar because of safety concerns.

5. Immobilizing Head and Neck Motion

Many studies have been done on the side effect of wearing orthotics on the neck.

One study by the National Library of Medicine in 2017 showed that the cervical collar causes whiplash injury, which causes a lot of pain in the neck.

C collars are divided into soft and hard collars, but the hard ones provide the most immobilization making them have dangerous effects on neck muscles.

How long Should I Wear Orthotics?

Many experts recommend that you start by wearing them for only two hours during the day.

Furthermore, you can increase your wear time by an hour each day until you get used to them.

It takes at least three weeks to get used to them.

The orthotics cause almost immediate changes in the bones. However, your muscles require more time to rebalance and gain strength in their new alignment.

Will I Wear Orthotics Forever?

You will wear orthotics indefinitely. Many people are weary of the side effects of wearing orthotics and the duration involved.

Orthotics reduce the ground force that hits the muscles as one performs routine duties. They reduce leg, neck, and back muscle and ligament pains.

If you remove them before full recovery, the discomfort reverses to its original state, making healing take longer. Hence, the period they are used is determined by how long it takes to achieve their purpose.

How Do You Know if Orthotics Are Working?

To know this, you should not feel pain, hotness, numbness, or strains since orthotics are custom-made for that particular problem.

So if you experience any of these side effects of wearing orthotics, there’s a higher chance that you have the wrong device.

However, it’s good to note that the pain does not disappear immediately. Your body may take some time to get accustomed to the orthotics, roughly up to six weeks. 

The National Library of Medicine’s study on “Why and When functional orthotics?” states that a podiatrist’s first step is understanding how your feet move.

They must determine the mechanism of an injury to decide on an appropriate treatment plan for the patient. This ensures that the right orthotics are recommended.

Do Orthotics Work Right Away?

No. The bad news is that the pain will not disappear immediately after you wear your orthotics.

However, if the orthotics are right for you, you will start noticing improvements sooner. Furthermore, there’s no exact time you can take to heal since the healing process is not the same for everyone.


Orthotics support the body’s muscles, ligaments, and joints and counter pain and deformities.

While their advantages are more pronounced, some side effects of wearing orthotics must be considered before one uses them.

Overusing orthotics leads to muscle weakness and stiffness. Over or undersized orthotics and low quality may harm the affected area and balance.

Recent research recommends avoiding orthotics unless necessary because of the magnitude of the underlying side effect. 

[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="4"]