Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Lower Spine News

Can a Shoe Insert Reduce Back Pain?

Even a mild difference in leg length from one leg to the other can lead to low back pain (LBP). Can a shoe insert make a difference? This is the question posed and answered in this study.

LBP patients with a 10 mm (about one-third of an inch) or less leg length difference were divided into two groups. The first group received a shoe insert made just for them. The insert was put inside the shoe of the shorter leg. Leg length difference was not corrected in the second (control) group.

Pain levels decreased in the group wearing the inserts. There was no change in the control group. The greater the difference in leg length, the more pain relief was obtained.

The authors point out that mildly shorter legs are rarely treated. Most people don't realize it's the cause of their back pain. Anyone with low back pain should be checked for leg length differences. Even one-quarter inch to one-third inch differences should be treated with a shoe insert for back pain relief.


Ruth Defrin, PhD, et al. Conservative Correction of Leg-Length Discrepancies of 10mm or Less for the Relief of Chronic Low Back Pain. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. November 2005. Vol. 86. No. 11. Pp. 2075-2080.

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