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The Role of Foot Orthoses in Anterior Knee Pain

Do you have pain in the front of your knee? Does it ache when you sit too long? Is it getting harder and harder to get up from a chair, or to go down stairs? Have you stopped walking or hiking on hills or reduced your distances? Have you started bending over to get things off the floor because your knee hurts too much? If so, it’s definitely time to take a closer look at what might be causing your knee pain.

Upon visiting your physical therapist for an initial evaluation, you will be examined from the tip of your toes up to your hips and back to help determine the cause of your knee pain. I know...but it’s your knee that hurts! There are many causes of anterior knee pain, which can only be determined by a skilled medical provider. Your pain could be caused by hip arthritis, muscle imbalances, weakness of hip stabilizers and core muscles, inflammation of the patellar tendon (tendinitis), patellofemoral tracking dysfunction, sudden growth spurts, or overpronation of the foot. The job of your physical therapist is to identify all of the contributing factors and address each of them through your rehabilitation program.

One particular component of a comprehensive treatment approach has shown increasing scientific evidence of immediate improvements in function (walking, standing from a chair, etc.): the use of a foot orthoses, inserted into your shoe. Several peer reviewed journals have published articles demonstrating that there is a treatment effect in providing certain patients with anterior knee pain with a custom prefabricated orthotic insert. They have been shown to perceive a decrease in their knee pain during functional activities which cannot be attributed to the “wait and see” approach to treatment. The best news, is that in many cases, there is an immediate response to the improved foot posture, leading to functional changes in ability to perform a single leg squat (like going down stairs), or standing from a chair.

If you are currently experiencing anterior knee pain or know someone who is, let them know that they can be helped by their physical therapist. An evaluation will help determine the appropriate plan of care, and don’t forget to ask whether a customized foot orthotic device would be helpful in treating your condition.

Coal Creek Physical Therapy has several physical therapists who love to treat patients with knee pain and also do fittings with custom orthoses. Give us a call at 303 666 4151 or email us at We’d love to help you feel better and live a life you love!

Happy Healing!

Chantal McDonald PT, MS, OCS, MTC


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