Foot Orthotics

Number: 0451

Policy

Note: Most Aetna plans exclude coverage of orthopedic shoes, foot orthotics or other supportive devices of the feet, except under the following conditions:

  1. This exclusion does not apply to such a shoe if it is an integral part of a leg brace and its expense is included as part of the cost of the brace.  See section below on therapeutic shoes as integral parts of a leg brace.  
  2. This exclusion does not apply to therapeutic shoes furnished to selected diabetic members in Aetna’s HMO plans and selected diabetic members of other Aetna plans where state diabetic mandates apply.  See section below on therapeutic shoes for diabetes for details.  
  3. This exclusion does not apply to rehabilitative foot orthotics that are prescribed as part of post-surgical or post-traumatic casting care.  
  4. This exclusion does not apply to prosthetic shoes.  See section below on prosthetic shoes for details.  

This policy is consistent with CMS guidelines.  Please check benefit plan descriptions for details.  For plans that do not exclude coverage of orthopedic shoes, foot orthotics, or other supportive devices of the feet, see section "Plans that do not exclude foot orthotics" below:

Therapeutic shoes as integral parts of a leg brace

Note: Even under plans that exclude coverage of foot orthotics, Aetna covers therapeutic shoes if they are an integral part of a covered leg brace and are medically necessary for the proper functioning of the brace.  Oxford shoes are usually covered in these situations.  Other shoes, e.g., high-top, depth inlay or custom-molded for non-diabetic, etc., may also be covered if they are an integral part of a covered leg brace.  Medically necessary heel replacements, sole replacements, and shoe transfers are also covered for therapeutic shoes that are an integral part of a covered leg brace.  Inserts and other shoe modifications of shoes that are an integral part of a leg brace are covered if they are medically necessary for the proper functioning of the brace.  Medically necessary shoe and related modifications, inserts, and heel/sole replacements, are covered when the shoe is an integral part of a leg brace.  A matching shoe, which is not attached to the brace and items related to that shoe, are also covered.

Shoes that are billed separately (i.e., not as part of a brace) will not be covered even if they are later incorporated into a brace.

Therapeutic shoes for diabetes

Note on Diabetic Shoe Benefit: Medically necessary foot orthotics may be covered for diabetic members of Aetna HMO plans with a diabetic shoe benefit, and for diabetic members of traditional plans without an exclusion for orthopedic shoes and supportive devices for the feet.

Aetna considers therapeutic shoes (depth or custom-molded) along with inserts medically necessary for members with diabetes mellitus and any of the following complications involving the foot:

  1. Foot deformity; or
  2. History of pre-ulcerative calluses; or 
  3. History of previous ulceration; or
  4. Peripheral neuropathy with evidence of callus formation; or
  5. Poor circulation; or
  6. Previous amputation of the foot or part of the foot.  

Therapeutic shoes and inserts for diabetes are considered experimental and investigational when these criteria are not met.  These criteria are consistent with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) guidelines.

One of the following per member per calendar year is considered medically necessary:

  1. No more than 1 pair of custom-molded shoes (including inserts provided with the shoes) and 2 additional pairs of inserts; or  
  2. No more than 1 pair of depth shoes and 3 pairs of inserts (not including the non-customized removable inserts provided with such shoes).

The following items are considered medically necessary for persons with diabetes who meet the criteria for diabetic shoes listed above:

  1. Depth shoes with the following characteristics are considered medically necessary when criteria are met:  

    • Are available in full and half sizes with a minimum of 3 widths so that the sole is graded to the size and width of the upper portions of the shoes according to the American standard sizing schedule or its equivalent.  (The American standard last sizing schedule is the numerical shoe sizing system used for shoes sold in the United States); and 
    • Are made of leather or other suitable material of equal quality; and  
    • Have a full-length, heel-to-toe filler that, when removed, provides a minimum of 3/16th inch of additional depth used to accommodate custom-molded or customized inserts; and 
    • Have some sort of shoe closure.
       

    This includes a shoe with or without an internally seamless toe.  Depth shoes without these characteristics have no proven value for diabetes.

  2. Custom-molded shoes with the following characteristics are considered medically necessary when the member has a foot deformity that can not be accommodated by a depth shoe:  

    • Constructed over a positive model of the member’s foot; and 
    • Have removable inserts that can be altered or replaced as the member’s condition warrants; and 
    • Have some sort of shoe closure; and 
    • Made from leather or other suitable material of equal quality.

    This includes a shoe with or without an internally seamless toe.  Custom-molded shoes without these characteristics have no proven value for diabetes.

  3. Modifications of custom-molded and depth shoes: An individual may substitute modifications of custom-molded or depth shoes instead of obtaining a pair of inserts in any combination.  (Note: Payment for the modifications may not exceed the limit set for the inserts for which the individual is entitled).  The following is a list of the most common shoe modifications available, but it is not meant as an exhaustive list of the modifications available for diabetic shoes:

    • Inserts Medically necessary inserts are those that are total contact, multiple densities, removable inlays that are directly molded to the member's foot or a model of the member's foot and are made of a material suitable for the member's condition.

    • Metatarsal bars These are exterior bars that are placed behind the metatarsal heads in order to remove pressure from the metatarsal heads.  The bars are of various shapes, heights, and construction depending on the exact purpose.

    • Offset heels This is a heel flanged at is base either in the middle, to the side, or a combination, that is then extended upward to the shoe in order to stabilize extreme positions of the hind foot.

    • Rigid rocker bottoms These are exterior elevations with apex positions for 51 % to 75 % distance measured from the back end of the heel.  The apex is a narrowed or pointed end of an anatomical structure.  The apex must be positioned behind the metatarsal heads and tapering off sharply to the front tip of the sole.  Apex height helps to eliminate pressure at the metatarsal heads.  The steel in the shoe ensures rigidity.  The heel of the shoe tapers off in the back in order to cause the heel to strike in the middle of the heel.  

    • Roller bottoms: (sole or bar): These are the same as rocker bottoms, but the heel is tapered from the apex to the front tip of the sole.    

    • Wedges (posting) Wedges are either of hind foot, fore foot, or both and may be in the middle or to the side.  The function is to shift or transfer weight upon standing or during ambulation to the opposite side for added support, stabilization, equalized weight distribution, or balance

  4. Other medically necessary modifications to diabetic shoes include, but are not limited to:  

    • Flared heels;  
    • Inserts for missing toes; and  
    • Velcro closures.

Deluxe features of therapeutic shoes have no proven value.  A deluxe feature is defined as a feature that does not contribute to the therapeutic function of the shoe.  It may include, but is not limited to style, color, or type of leather.

Note: Coverage is provided for a pair of diabetic shoes even if only 1 foot suffers from diabetic foot disease.

Prosthetic shoes

Aetna considers shoes that are an integral part of a prosthesis medically necessary for members with a partial foot.  Note: Aetna does not cover stock shoes that are put on over a partial foot or other lower extremity prosthesis.

A prosthetic shoe is a device used when all or a substantial portion of the front part of the foot is missing.  A prosthetic shoe can be considered as a terminal device; i.e., a structural supplement replacing a totally or substantially absent hand or foot.  Terminal devices such as hooks and prosthetic shoes may be considered prosthetics in place of an artificial hand or foot.

Note: Medically necessary prosthetic shoes are covered even under plans that exclude foot orthotics.  The function of a prosthetic shoe is quite distinct from that of excluded orthopedic shoes and supportive foot devices that are used by individuals whose feet, although impaired, are essentially intact.   Please check benefit plan descriptions for details.

Rehabilitative foot orthotics following surgery or trauma

Note: Even under plans that exclude coverage of foot orthotics, Aetna covers rehabilitative foot orthotics that are prescribed following foot surgery or trauma when the these rehabilitative foot orthotics are medically necessary as part of their post surgical or casting care.  In these instances, foot orthotics are considered an integral part of the covered surgical procedure or foot trauma repair.  For example, Aetna covers foot orthotics for infants and toddlers who have foot orthotics applied during the rehabilitative period immediately following surgery for congenital foot deformities and are receiving these foot orthotics as part of the post surgery or casting care.

Plans that do not exclude foot orthotics

Note: For plans that do not exclude coverage of foot orthotics, Aetna covers foot orthotics when the medical necessity criteria below are met.  Please check benefit plan descriptions.

Foot orthotics are considered medically necessary for members who meet all of the following selection criteria:

  1. Member has any of the following conditions:  

    1. Adults (skeletally mature feet): 

      • Acute or chronic plantar fasciitis
      • Acute sport-related injuries (including: diagnoses related to inflammatory problems; e.g., bursitis, tendonitis)
      • Calcaneal bursitis (acute or chronic)
      • Calcaneal spurs (heel spurs)  
      • Chronic ankle instability
      • Conditions related to diabetes (see section above on therapeutic shoes for diabetes for a complete list of medically necessary diagnoses)
      • Inflammatory conditions (i.e., sesamoiditis; submetatarsal bursitis; synovitis; tenosynovitis; synovial cyst; osteomyelitis; and plantar fascial fibromatosis)
      • Medial osteoarthritis of the knee (lateral wedge insoles)
      • Musculoskeletal/arthropathic deformities (including: deformities of the joint or skeleton that impairs walking in a normal shoe; e.g., bunions, hallux valgus, talipes deformities, pes deformities, hammertoes, anomalies of toes)
      • Neurologically impaired feet (including: neuroma; tarsal tunnel syndrome; ganglionic cyst; and neuropathies involving the feet, including those associated with peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, carcinoma, drugs, toxins, and chronic renal disease)
      • Vascular conditions (including: ulceration, poor circulation, peripheral vascular disease, Buerger's disease (thromboangiitis obliterans), chronic thrombophlebitis).

      Foot orthotics have no proven value for back pain, knee pain (other than medial osteoarthritis), pes planus (flat feet), pronation, corns and calluses, hip osteoarthritis, and lower leg injuries. 

    2. Children (skeletally immature feet):  

      • Hallux valgus deformities
      • In-toe or out-toe gait
      • Musculoskeletal weakness (e.g., pronation, pes planus)
      • Structural deformities (e.g., tarsal coalitions)
      • Torsional conditions (e.g., metatarsus adductus, tibial torsion, femoral torsion)

    and (for both adults and children)

  2. The member must have symptoms associated with the particular foot condition (foot orthotics are not considered medically necessary when the foot condition does not cause symptoms); and   

  3. The member has failed to respond to a course of appropriate conservative treatment (e.g., physical therapy, injections, strapping, anti-inflammatory medications).  (Orthotics should not be considered first line therapy.)  

Foot orthotics are considered experimental and investigational when these criteria are not met; and for treatment of joint hypermobility syndrome.

The following types of foot orthotics are considered medically necessary for the above listed indications:

  1. Shoe modifications to standard non-orthopedic shoes, e.g., rocker soles, shoe buildups, metatarsal bars, shoe stretching, Thomas heels, tongue pds, velcro closures, modified lacers, etc., may be considered medically necessary to compensate for minor foot deformities.  Shoe modifications are medically prescribed alterants to shoes to accommodate minor foot deformities, disabilities, or leg shortening of less than 1.5 inches.

  2. Over-the-counter standard orthopedic Oxford shoes are considered medically necessary when the foot can reasonably be accommodated in this type of shoe.  A standard orthopedic Oxford is a prefabricated shoe that can accommodate an inlay.

  3. Inlay shoes are considered medically necessary when shoe modifications will not accommodate the foot deformity and that an insole or additional space is needed. Depth inlay shoes are pre-fabricated shoes with a higher toe box to accommodate for hammer toes and other foot deformities.  These shoes are usually made of plastizote or other pressure absorbing material.  Medically necessary depth inlay shoes (depth shoes) should meet criteria set forth in section above on therapeutic shoes for diabetes.

  4. Healing or cast shoes are considered medically necessary when the foot can not be slipped into a standard shoe.  Replacement or repair of healing or cast shoes is usually not medically necessary since this shoe is normally needed for a short period of time.  Spare plastizole healing shoes are not considered medically necessary since these shoes are used for a short duration.

  5. Molded shoes are considered medically necessary if no other type or shoe or modification adequately accommodates the foot deformity of condition.

  6. Custom-made orthopedic shoes are considered medically necessary when the members needs can not be accommodated by other foot orthotics.  Custom-made orthopedic shoes are considered medically necessary when the severity of the foot condition is such that a lesser means, for example, inlay shoes, shoe modifications, etc., can not adequately compensate for the deformity or there is a leg discrepancy length of at least 1.5 inches or greater.  Custom-made orthopedic shoes are shoes fabricated over special modified lasts in accordance with prescriptions and specifications to accommodate gross or greater foot deformities or shortening of a leg of 1.5 inches or greater.  A last is a form which is shaped like a human foot over which a shoe is manufactured or repaired.  The severity of the foot deformity requires the physical presence of the member for casts, measurements, and trial fittings.

  7. Modifications of custom-made/-molded, and depth shoes: An individual may substitute modifications of custom-made/-molded or depth shoes instead of obtaining a pair of inserts in any combination.  (Note: Payment for the modifications may not exceed the limit set for the inserts for which the individual is entitled).  See section on therapeutic shoes for diabetes for description of modifications to custom-molded and depth shoes.

One of the following per member per calendar year is considered medically necessary:

  1. No more than 1 pair of custom-molded shoes (including inserts provided with the shoes) and 2 additional pairs of inserts; or 
  2. No more than 1 pair of depth shoes and 3 pairs of inserts (not including the non-customized removable inserts provided with such shoes).

Note: Custom molded shoes and shoe modifications are also covered for diabetic patients who meet the criteria set forth in the section "Therapeutic Shoes for Diabetes", above.  For plans that do not exclude coverage of foot orthotics, over the counter orthotics are covered as supplies when medically necessary and prescribed by a physician.  Over-the-counter orthotics are considered medically necessary for short-term use (e.g., for a few weeks to a couple of months) for acute conditions.  They are not considered medically necessary if used to replace custom made orthotics that are for chronic, long-term use, as they would need to be replaced frequently.  Over-the-counter orthotics are not appropriate for children.

Spinal Pelvic Stabilizers (Foot Levelers, Inc.) are specialized custom molded inserts designed to prevent foot injuries and improve foot alignment; these are considered experimental and investigational because their value in treatment of foot disease has not been proven.

Shoe modifications and replacements

Medical necessity criteria for replacements of or modifications to existing customized shoes is based on the same criteria noted for the shoe itself.  Replacement of a pair of shoes, or modifications, should be based on necessity (e.g., worn out, loss of effectiveness), not for convenience or style change.  Due to wear and tear with normal use, orthotics may need refurbishing periodically, every 1 or 2 years.  Replacement of orthotics is generally not necessary more often than every 2 years.

Other medical necessity limitations

Orthotic devices made on the same date as an open cutting surgical procedure (e.g., bunionectomy) are not considered medically necessary.  Only 1 orthotic per foot is considered medically necessary.  Separate orthotics for each pair of the member’s shoes are not considered medically necessary.

Background

The terms used to describe orthotics were very confusing; often, clinicians used different terms to describe even the most basic device.  Devices or parts of orthoses were given names that might describe their purpose, the body part to which they were applied, the inventor of the device, or where they were developed.

To minimize confusion, a system of standard terminology has been developed.  The system uses the first letter of each joint that the orthosis crosses in correct sequence, with the letter "O" for orthosis at the end.  Thus, the more common orthoses would be named AFO (ankle-foot orthosis), KAFO (knee-ankle-foot orthosis), and KO (knee orthosis).  A properly written orthotic prescription does not just state the name of the orthosis; it also is necessary to state the desired function to be obtained, the specific material from which the device is to be made, and the specific design and construction that is to be employed.

Foot orthotics may be accommodative or functional.  Accommodative foot orthoses are custom or non-custom inlays fabricated for the purpose of providing relief from callosities and pressure points, and maintaining the integrity of the longitudinal arch and/or the metatarsal heads.  Functional foot orthoses are foot plates fabricated from plaster molds of the feet or electronic (computer) imaging in a semi-weight bearing or non-weight bearing, neutral position, with corrections built in to prevent abnormal compensation during the gait cycle.

Orthopedic shoes are shoes used to prevent or correct disorders of the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and cartilage of the legs and feet. Custom-made orthopedic shoes are shoes fabricated over special modified lasts in accordance with prescriptions and specifications to accommodate gross or greater foot deformities or shortening of a leg at least 1 and 1/2 inches or greater.  Custom-made orthopedic shoes may be necessary when a physician or podiatrist determines that the severity of the foot condition is such that a lesser means (e.g., inlay shoes, shoe modifications, etc.) can not adequately compensate for the deformity or there is a leg discrepancy length at least of 1 and 1/2 inches in length or greater.  Initial custom-made orthopedic shoes, lasts, and patterns normally are obtained when the severity of the foot disability requires the physical presence of the member for casts, measurements, and possible trial fittings.

A shoe modification is a medically prescribed alteration(s) to a shoe(s) to accommodate minor foot deformities, disabilities, or leg shortening of less than 1 and 1/2 inches.  Shoe modifications (e.g., rocker soles, shoe buildups, metatarsal bars, shoe stretching, Thomas heels, tongue pads, velcro closures, modified lacers, etc.) may be applied to personally purchased shoes, upon medical determination of need, to compensate for minor foot deformities.

Depth inlay shoes are pre-fabricated shoes with a higher toe box to accommodate for hammer toes and other deformities.  This shoe may also accommodate the insertion of special inserts.  These shoes are traditionally made of plastizote or other pressure absorbent material.  Inlay shoes may be necessary after it has been determined that shoe modifications will not accommodate the foot deformity and that an insole or additional space is necessary.

Healing shoes are pre-fabricated shoes with a higher toe box to accommodate for hammer toes and other deformities.  This shoe may also accommodate the insertion of special inserts.  Healing and/or cast shoes may be necessary when the foot can not be slipped into a standard shoe.

Patterns are cardboard tracing (templates) comprising the shoe's upper and innersole components.

A last is a form which is shaped like the human foot over which a shoe is manufactured or repaired.

A standard orthopedic Oxford is a pre-fabricated shoes that can accommodate an inlay (e.g., dress, casual, and athletic shoes).  Over the counter (OTC) standard orthopedic Oxford (dress, casual, athletic) should be used when a foot can be reasonably accommodated in this type of shoe.

Orthotic shoes or orthopedic shoes

Special shoes for certain unusual or abnormal foot conditions, to improve comfort and function.  They are created mostly for recreational use and for pathologic foot conditions.  This definition includes high-quarter shoes, or chukka boots, which cover the medial malleoli.

Reese Orthopedic Shoe is a canvas and wooden sole shoe used post-operatively to reduce motion in joints of the foot.  This shoe is also known as a Darby Shoe.

Clawson Rocker Shoes serve as a walking aid for patients with multiple sclerosis.

Straight Last Shoes serve as a corrective splint for metatarsus adductus.

Modifications of stock shoes

Shoe modifications can be classified as internal (i.e., those that are inserted into the inner surface of the shoe or sandwiched between shoe components) or external (i.e., those that are attached to the sole or heel).

Internal shoe modifications

Inner shoe corrections include steel shanks, cookies (i.e., scaphoid and metatarsal pads), interior heel lifts and wedges, extended or reinforced heel counters, and protective metal toe boxes.

Steel shanks

Used to support a weak longitudinal arch.

Cookies

Includes scaphoid and metatarsal pads.  Made of firm materials such as leather or rubber, can also be used to support a weak longitudinal arch.

Scaphoid pads

Used to provide additional longitudinal arch support, but are made of compressible material, and are prescribed for people who can not tolerate the firmness of a cookie.

Long medial counters

Made of firm material, such as rigid leather, the insertion of a long medial counter can improve the longitudinal arch support of a cookie or scaphoid pad.

Metatarsal pads

Available commercially, the metatarsal pads may be positioned inside the shoe just proximally to the metatarsal heads to protect and reduce pressure on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th metatarsal heads.

Sesamoid (also known as a dancer's pad)

Is thicker and broader than a metatarsal pad, and extends medially to the proximal part of the 1st metatarsal head.  Thus, it provides greater support for more severe cases of metatarsalgia.

Interior heel wedges

Range in size from 0.0625 to 0.125 inch in height, and can be placed on either one-half of the interior heel.

Arch supports

Are orthotic devices that are individually molded for specific patient needs (i.e., torsional conditions, structural deformities, calcaneal spurs).

External shoe modifications

External shoe modifications include sole and heel wedges, flanges and elevations, metatarsal and rocker bars, and different types of heel designs.

Wedges

Are constructed of leather and positioned under the outer sole or heel.  Sole and heel wedges usually are placed medially but occasionally they are laterally placed to shift the body weight from that side of the foot to the other.

Shoe wedge is any device, generally constructed of leather that is placed on the side of the walking surface of a shoe or within the shoe construction itself, and not in direct contact with the foot.  The purpose of a shoe wedge is to re-distribute the flow of weight through the foot.

1st Metatarsal Head is a wedge that extends on the medial side of the shoe from the breast of the heel to the 1st metatarsal head.

Full Lateral is a wedge on the outer side of the shoe; extending from the heel to the tip of the shoe.

Full Medial is a wedge on the medial (inner) side of the shoe, extending from the heel to the tip of the shoe.

Lateral Dutchman is a wedge that is placed on the lateral (outside) margin of the sole of the shoe.

Medial Dutchman is a wedge that is placed on the medial (inner) side of the sole of the shoe.

Medial Tip is a wedge placed on the medial (inner) side of the tip of the sole of the shoe.

Flanges or flare outs are 0.25-inch wide medial or lateral extensions of the sole or heel that provide rotatory stability.  A lateral flange provides a lever-arm, which ensures a foot flat in the presence of excessive inversion or varus deformity.  Such small lateral flanges are seen on most commercially available runner' shoes.

Elevations (i.e., lifts) are elevations of the sole or heel prescribed for leg length discrepancies.  Elevations of greater than 0.25 inches are placed externally.

Bars are a build-up on the exterior of the sole of the shoe (usually made of leather or rubber) to control distribution of weight to the foot.

Metatarsal bar is made of leather or rubber, and may be attached transversely to the outer sole immediately proximal to the metatarsal heads to relieve pressure on them and to reduce pain.

Kidney is a kidney-shaped metatarsal bar.

Rocker bar is placed similarly to the metatarsal bar, but extends distally beyond the metatarsal heads.  It relieves pressure on the metatarsal heads, and also reduces metatarsal phalangeal flexion on push-off by providing a smooth plantar roll to toe-off.

Denver bar is placed under the metatarsal bones to support the transverse arch extending from the metatarsal heads anteriorly to the tarsal metatarsal joints posteriorly.

Anterior heel is a bar that is effective in providing a broad distribution of weight.  The device consists of a leather raise extending from the front part of the shank where it meets the sole backward to half the distance of the shank.

Comma is a bar put on a shoe behind the metatarsal heads; it has the shape of a comma.  The posterior and lateral side of the bar is thicker and is positioned under the middle of the shank of the shoe.

Mayo is a bar cemented to the sole of the shoe proximal to the forefoot treading surface.

Thomas is a metatarsal bar 3/4" wide by 2/8" to 3/8" thick; the bar is skived thin at the posterior end and applied on the exterior of the sole of the shoe behind the metatarsal heads.  This provides for the relief of pressure off of the metatarsal heads.

External heel modifications

See heel elevations, wedges, and flanges under internal shoe modifications.

The heel of a shoe may vary in size, shape, height and construction.

The Thomas heel or the orthopedic heel is similar in design and material to the regular flat heel but has an anteriomedial extension to provide additional longitudinal arch support.  This extension may be of variable length, depending on the extent of the support required, and its effect may be augmented further by a medial wedge or a Thomas heel wedge.

Reverse Thomas heel is an antero-lateral extension to support a weak lateral longitudinal arch.

Heel cushion (e.g., the solid ankle cushion (SACH) heel) is made of compressible resilient materials, usually in conjunction with a rocker bar for cushioning effect on heel strike.

Extended is a heel with an anterior extension on the medial side.

Flared is a heel flared on either the medial, lateral, or posterior sides, or any combination of sides, allowing for a wider base to the heel to control the distribution of body weight to the foot and its gravitational center.

Wedge is a wedge of leather or other material added as an exterior or interior modification at the heel; to assist in balance or stabilization of the foot.  See section on wedges above.

Splints (mechanical bars)

Splints are mechanical devices applied to special shoes, comprised of an attachment of a stationary or movable adjustable bar between the shoes to control the position and the motion of the feet while standing and walking for the purpose of correcting foot deformities.

Brachman Splint is a movable bar attached to the shoes that permits reciprocal motion of the feet.

Dennis-Brown Bar is a non-movable or stationary bar attached to the shoes.

Filauer Bar is similar to a Dennis-Brown bar; the difference is that it has an adjustment that allows for an internal or external rotational position of the foot.

Friedman Bar is a leather rectangular bar that is attached to the back of the heels of the shoes to control in-toeing or out-toeing.

Gottler Splint is a device applied to a special shoe to prevent the forefoot from in-toeing (adducting).

Night Splint is an established therapeutic option for plantar fasciitis.

Plates

Plates are rigid type foot orthotics used for correction, stabilization and gait training of the foot.

Whitman's is a rigid appliance, made of stainless steel or plastic that acts as an action brace.  The appliance has a medial flange and lateral clip; no heel seat.  It extends distally to the first metatarsal head only and then laterally to the base of the 5th metatarsal.

Reverse Whitman's are the same as Whitman's; the difference is that an extension of metal or plastic goes to the 5h metatarsal head, instead of the 1st metatarsal head.

Robert's is a rigid appliance, usually metal or plastic, with a medial flange and lateral clip and heel seat.  The plate extends distally to all metatarsal heads.  Shaeffer is a custom-made rigid orthotic to stabilize the foot.

Foot orthoses

Orthotics are mechanical devices which are placed in a shoe (shoe inserts) to assist in restoring or maintaining normal alignment of the foot, relieve stress from strained or injured soft tissues, bony prominences, deformed bones and joints, and inflamed or chronic bursae (e.g., arch supports).  Removable foot supports are placed inside the shoe to manage different foot symptoms and deformities.  The devices can be made of several different types of materials and are usually designed to the measurement, plaster models and patterns of the foot and leg.  They may be available commercially or may be custom-made.  The usual indications for foot orthoses are to relieve pressure on areas that are painful, ulcerated, scarred, or callused, to support weak or flat longitudinal or transverse foot arches, and to control foot positions and thus affect the alignment of other lower limb joints.  All are concerned with improving foot function, controlling foot motion, reducing shock absorption and minimizing stress forces that could ultimately cause foot deformity and pain.

Soft or flexible foot orthoses are made from soft compressible materials, such as leather, cork, rubber, soft plastics, or plastic foam (Spenco, PPT, Pelite).  Many of these are commercially available and used for simple problems.  Soft orthotics help to absorb shock, increase balance, and take pressure off uncomfortable or sore spots.  Soft foot orthoses are worn against the sole of the foot and are usually fabricated in full length from heel to toe with increased thickness where weight bearing is indicated and relief where no or little pressure should occur.  Plastic foam orthoses are available in different density and thickness and are commonly used for ischemic, insensitive, ulcerated, and arthritic feet.  The advantage of any soft orthotic is that it may be easily adjusted to changing weight-bearing forces.  The disadvantage is that it must be replaced more often than rigid orthotics.  A soft orthotic is particularly effective for diabetes, the arthritides and for grossly deformed feet where there is the loss of protective fatty tissue on the side of the foot. Soft orthotics are also widely used in the care of healing ulcers in the insensitive foot.

Semi-rigid and rigid orthoses come in a variety of materials such as leather, cork, and metals, but most commonly they are made of solid plastics, which allow minimal flexibility.  These orthoses generally extend from the posterior end of the heel to the metatarsal heads (i.e., 3/4 length), and may have medial or lateral flanges.  They are molded to provide support under the longitudinal arch and metatarsal area and to provide relief for painful or irritated areas.  The most rigid foot orthoses (e.g., Whitman, Mayer, and Shaffer plates; Boston arch supports) are made of metal, usually steel or duralumin, and are covered with leather.

Rigid orthotics are designed to control function.  They are made of a firm material such as plastic, leather, fiberglass or acrylic polymer.  The finished device normally extends along the sole of the heel to the ball or toes of the foot.  It is worn mostly in closed shoes with a heel height under 2 inches.  Rigid orthotics are chiefly designed to control motion in 2 major foot joints, which lie directly below the ankle joint.  These devices are long-lasting, do not change shape, and are usually unbreakable.  Strains, aches, and pains in the legs, thighs, and lower back may be due to abnormal function of the foot or a slight difference in the length of the legs.  In such cases, orthoses may improve or eliminate these symptoms which at first may seem only remotely connected to foot function.  Molded polypropylene orthoses (foot/ankle/leg) are used to manage spastic and flaccid paralysis due to neurodeformities (e.g., cerebral palsy).

Semi-rigid orthotics provide for dynamic balance of the foot while walking or participating in sports.  Each sport has its own demand and each orthotic needs to be constructed appropriately with the sport and the athlete taken into consideration.  The functional dynamic orthotic helps guide the foot through proper functions, allowing the muscles and tendons to perform more efficiently.  The classic, semi-rigid orthotics constructed using laminations of leather and cork, reinforced by a material called Silastic.  It may also be made of polymer composites.

Strappings, paddings, and appliances may be applied directly to the foot and toes to correct deformities and protect tender areas such as corns, calluses, ulcers, nails, and bony outgrowths from excessive friction or pressure.

Gelis et al (2008) developed clinical practice guidelines for the use of foot orthoses (FO) in the treatment of knee and hip osteoarthritis (OA).  The French Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Society's methodology, associating a systematic review of the literature, input from everyday clinical practice and external review by a multi-disciplinary expert committee, was employed.  The selected analysis criteria were pain, disability, medications used as well as X-ray evolution of OA.  Recommendations were classified according to the level of proof in grade A, B or C according to the French National Agency for Health Accreditation and Evaluation.  In medial knee OA, foot pronation orthotics -- when there are no contraindications -- can be proposed for their symptomatic impact, especially in the decrease of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs consumption (grade B).  To this day, there is no evidence of a structural or functional impact on OA (grade B).  Outside of this specific clinical framework, there is no validated indication for prescribing FO in the treatment of knee or hip OA (grade C).  The authors concluded that it is necessary to have further randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to better define the indication of FO (severity of knee OA, genu varum), test the efficacy of other orthoses such as cushioning FO.  The long-term side effects, mainly on the external femoro-tibial compartment could also be assessed.  A medical and economical assessment of FO prescriptions is also quite necessary.

Hume and associates (2008) reviewed the effectiveness of FO for treatment and prevention of lower limb injuries.  Qualifying studies were mainly controlled trials, but some uncontrolled clinical trials of patients with chronic injuries were analyzed separately.  Injuries included plantar fasciitis, tibial stress fractures and patello-femoral pain syndrome; these were included because of the large treatment costs for these frequent injuries in New Zealand.  Outcomes were pain, comfort, function and injury status.  Continuous measures were expressed as standardized differences using baseline between-subject standard deviations, and magnitudes were inferred from the intersection of 90 % confidence intervals (CIs) with thresholds of a modified Cohen scale.  Effects based on frequencies were expressed as hazard ratios and their magnitudes were inferred from intersection of CIs with a novel scale of thresholds.  The effects of FO for treatment of pain or injury prevention were mostly trivial.  Foot orthoses were not effective in treating or preventing patello-femoral pain syndrome.  Some studies showed moderate effects for treatment of plantar fasciitis.  Only a few studies showed moderate or large beneficial effects of FO in preventing injuries.  Customized semi-rigid FO have moderate to large beneficial effects in treating and preventing plantar fasciitis and posterior tibial stress fractures, and small to moderate effects in treating patello-femoral pain syndrome.  Given the limited RCTs or clinical controlled trials available for the injuries of interest, it may be that more or less benefit can be derived from the use of FO, but many studies did not provide enough information for the standardized effect sizes to be calculated.  The authors stated that further research with RCTs is needed to establish the clinical utility of a variety of FO for the treatment and prevention of various lower limb injuries.  In this regard, Vicenzino et al (2008) reported that a single-blinded RCT will be conducted to investigate the clinical efficacy and cost effectiveness of FO in the management of patello-femoral pain syndrome.

Foot Orthoses for the Treatment of Plantar Heel Pain:

In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Whittaker and associates (2018) examined the effectiveness of foot orthoses for pain and function in adults with plantar heel pain.  The primary outcome was pain or function categorized by duration of follow-up as short (0 to 6 weeks), medium (7 to 12 weeks) or longer term (13 to 52 weeks).  Data sources included Medline, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, Embase and the Cochrane Library from inception to June 2017.  Studies must have used a randomized parallel-group design and evaluated foot orthoses for plantar heel pain.  At least 1 outcome measure for pain or function must have been reported.  A total of 19 trials (1,660 participants) were included.  In the short-term, there was very low-quality evidence that foot orthoses did not reduce pain or improve function.  In the medium-term, there was moderate-quality evidence that foot orthoses were more effective than sham foot orthoses at reducing pain (standardized mean difference {SMD] -0.27 (95 % CI: -0.48 to -0.06)).  There was no improvement in function in the medium-term.  In the longer term, there was very low-quality evidence that foot orthoses did not reduce pain or improve function.  A comparison of customized and pre-fabricated foot orthoses showed no difference at any time-point.  The author concluded that this review found moderate-quality evidence that foot orthoses were more effective at reducing pain than sham foot orthoses in the medium-term (from 7 to 12 weeks).  However, the effect size was small, so it was uncertain whether this reduction in pain was clinically important for patients.  No evidence was found that foot orthoses were effective in the short-term or longer-term at reducing pain (including “first step” pain) or improving function.  In addition, this review found no difference between customized and pre-fabricated foot orthoses, or between soft and firm foot orthotic materials, for reducing pain or improving function.  Aside from the findings in the medium-term, the evidence that these conclusions were drawn from was of very low to low quality, so there is the possibility that future trials of a higher quality may change some of the findings of this review.

The authors noted that there were several limitations that need to be considered when interpreting the findings.  There was a lack of data relating to short-term or longer-term findings (time-points before 6 weeks and after 12 weeks).  Only 3 trials reported data that could be included in a meta-analysis in the short-term, and only 2 trials reported data in the longer-term.  In addition, incomplete reporting in the included trials resulted in down-graded evidence quality and also reduced the potential data available for meta-analyses.  GRADE has highlighted that the evidence for the effectiveness of foot orthoses for PHP ranged between very low and moderate quality for the most important outcomes reported in this review.  Furthermore, there was considerable intervention variability, as none of the included trials evaluated the same foot orthosis.  Because of this, a wide variety of materials, arch contours, methods of casting and prescription have been evaluated.  This may result in heterogeneity when comparing studies, leading to reduced effect sizes and limited evidence regarding which design characteristics of a foot orthosis are most effective.

In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Rasenberg and colleagues (2018) examined the effects of different orthoses on pain, function and self-reported recovery in patients with plantar heel pain (PHP) and compared them with other conservative interventions.  A systematic literature search was conducted in Medline, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science, CINAHL and Google Scholar up to January 2017; RCTs comparing foot orthoses with a control (defined as no intervention, sham or other type of conservative treatment) reporting on pain, function or self-reported recovery in patients with PHP were selected for analysis.  A total of 20 studies investigating 8 different types of foot orthoses were included in the review.  Most studies were of high quality.  Pooled data from 6 studies showed no difference between pre-fabricated orthoses and sham orthoses for pain at short-term (MD of 0.26 (95 % CI: -0.09 to 0.60)).  No difference was found between sham orthoses and custom orthoses for pain at short-term (MD 0.22 (95 % CI: -0.05 to 0.50)), nor was there a difference between pre-fabricated orthoses and custom orthoses for pain at short-term (MD 0.03 (95 % CI: -0.15 to 0.22)).  For the majority of other interventions, no significant differences were found.  The authors concluded that foot orthoses were not superior for improving pain and function compared with sham or other conservative treatment in patients with PHP.

Furthermore, an UpToDate review on “Plantar fasciitis” (Buchbinder, 2018) states that “The efficacy of foot orthoses remains controversial, and there are considerable variations in the prescribing habits of podiatrists, orthopedists, and prosthetists”.

Foot Orthotics for Joint Hypermobility Syndrome:

McDermott and colleagues (2018) stated that joint hypermobility syndrome (JHS) in children, presents with increased joint range of motion (ROM) and can lead to altered gait strategies and reduced dynamic balance.  Despite limited evidence foot orthoses are sometimes prescribed to patients with JHS with the aim to improve the stability of their gait pattern and theoretically reduce associated symptoms of fatigue and joint pain.  These researchers analyzed the immediate effects of “off the shelf'” orthoses on temporo-spatial parameters of gait and dynamic balance in this cohort.  A total of 21 patients were recruited for the study (13 female) with a median age of 10 years (IRQ = 4.12).  Each patient had their gait analyzed using the GAITRite walkway in their own footwear and immediately after being prescribed the orthoses.  Gait was tested at both the patients' preferred speed and when asked to walk slower to challenge their dynamic balance.  Gait appeared more synchronized, with a reduction in step length and width variability, when participants were provided with orthotics.  The variation was greatest when participants were asked to walk slower.  Double stance was significantly less at slower speeds when orthotics were added (1.61 %, 95 % CI: 0.34 to 2.89, p = 0.015). The authors concluded that the findings of this study indicated that orthotics had a definite immediate influence on gait patterns in patients with JHS.  Moreover, they stated that future studies should investigate the long-term effects of orthotics in this population and include outcome measures for symptoms such as pain.

Low Back Pain

Papuga and Cambron (2016) evaluated the literature on the use of foot orthotics for low back pain (LBP) and made specific recommendations for future research. Database searches were conducted using PubMed, EBSCO, GALE, Google Scholar, and clinicaltrials.gov.  The biomedical literature was reviewed to determine the current state of knowledge on the benefits of foot orthotics for LBP related to biomechanical mechanisms and clinical outcomes.  It may be argued that foot orthotics are experimental, investigational, or unproven for LBP due to lack of sufficient evidence for their clinical effectiveness.  This conclusion is based upon lack of high quality RCTs.  However, there is extensive research on biomechanical mechanisms underlying the benefits of orthotics that may be used to address this gap.  Additionally, promising pilot studies are beginning to emerge in the literature and ongoing large-scale RCTs are addressing effects of foot orthotics on chronic LBP.  The authors concluded that based upon the critical evaluation of the current research on foot orthotics related to biomechanical mechanisms and clinical outcomes, recommendations for future research to address the evidence-practice gaps on the use of foot orthotics for LBP were presented.

Chronic Ankle Instability

Gabriner and colleagues (2015) stated that chronic ankle instability (CAI) is a condition commonly experienced by physically active individuals. It has been suggested that foot orthotics may increase a CAI patient's postural control.  These investigators reviewed the evidence to examine if an orthotic intervention will help improve postural control.  The literature was searched for studies of level 2 evidence or higher that investigated the effects of foot orthotics on postural control in patients with CAI.  The search of the literature produced 5 possible studies for inclusion; 2 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included -- 1 RCT and 1 outcomes study were included.  Foot orthotics appeared to be effective at improving postural control in patients with CAI.  The authors concluded that there is moderate evidence to support the use of foot orthotics in the treatment of CAI to help improve postural control.  They noted that the Centre of Evidence Based Medicine recommended a grade of B for level 2 evidence with consistent findings.

Furthermore, an UpToDate review on “Ankle sprain” (Maughan, 2016) states that “Options for primary or secondary prevention of ankle injuries include external ankle supports (e.g., semi-rigid orthoses, lace up supports, and high-top shoes), taping, stretching, strengthening, and proprioceptive ankle training using a wobble board and other techniques”.

Ankle-Foot Orthoses

Ankle-foot orthoses are most commonly prescribed for muscle weakness affecting the ankle and subtalar joints, such as weakness of the dorsi and plantar flexors, invertors, and evertors.  Ankle-foot orthoses can also be prescribed for prevention or correction of deformities of the foot and ankle and reduction of weight-bearing forces.  In addition to having mechanical effects on the ankle, the AFOs may affect the stability of the knee by varying the degree of plantar or dorsiflexion at the ankle.  An ankle fixed in dorsiflexion will provide a flexion force at the knee and thus may help to prevent genu recurvatum; a fixed plantarflexion will provide an extension force that may help to support a weak knee during the stance phase of gait.  Although traditional metal orthoses still are prescribed, plastic ankle-foot orthoses are more common.  Inexpensive, ready to use AFOs are widely available and useful for minor or temporary deficits, but custom-made orthoses are indicated for more severe and permanent deficits.  Plastic AFOs are worn inside the shoe and consist of the footplate, an upright component, and a Velcro calf strap.  The upright components on plastic AFOs vary in design, depending on the desired function, but usually these extend from the footplate without a joint mechanism to the upper calf approximately 1 to 2 inches below the head of the fibula.

Metal AFOs usually have both medial and lateral uprights with an ankle joint mechanism.  The uprights are attached to the shoe by a stirrup and secured to the calf by a padded leather-covered calf band, leather strap, and a buckle.  Sturdy shoes, such as orthopedic shoes, are required for metal orthoses.  The stirrups usually are attached directly to the shoe between the sole and heel, although the footplate inside the shoe occasionally is used.  The upper end of the stirrup connects with the uprights at the ankle joint.  The solid stirrup is used most commonly and provides the most rigid and least bulky shoe attachment.  The split stirrup allows transfer of the orthosis to any shoe with a flat caliper insertion.  Knee-ankle-foot orthoses: Knee-ankle-foot orthoses are prescribed to provide knee stability for weight bearing in the presence of severe lower limb weakness due to upper or lower motor neuron disease.

Figueiredo et al (2008) performed a literature review evaluating the quality of current research on the influence of AFOs on gait in children with cerebral palsy (CP).  Two between-group and 18 within-group studies met the inclusion criteria indicating a low level of evidence.  Between-group studies each scored "4" on the PEDro Scale, and 17 within-group studies scored "3" and 1 scored "2", indicating low quality.  Standard terminology for AFOs was not used and only 6 studies described functional status using appropriate instruments.  The authors concluded that studies using high quality methods are still needed to support evidence-based decisions regarding the use of AFOs for this population.

Hip-Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthoses

Hip-knee-ankle-foot orthoses consist of the same components as described for the standard AFOs and KAFOs, with the addition of an attached lockable hip joint and a pelvic band to control movements at the anatomic hip joint.

Fracture Orthoses

These include rigid, plaster-of-Paris casts which are applied to a fractured limb to provide rigid immobilization while healing occurs, to fracture orthoses that permits mobilization of joints adjacent to the fracture.  These latter types of fracture orthoses have been used most often to treat fractures of the shafts of the tibia and femur when internal fixation is unnecessary, contraindicated, or refused by the patient, and when healing is significantly delayed or does not occur.  They allow functional ambulation with progressively increasing weight bearing.  The fracture orthoses include 3 main components:
  1. a cylinder that fits closely to the fractured limb;
  2. a footplate, which is worn inside the shoe; and
  3. a joint mechanism, which attaches the footplate to the cylindrical component. 
Similar joint mechanisms may be used for the knee, connecting the above- and below-knee pieces.

Latex Shield is a protective shield made to the plaster model of a patient's toe or part of the foot.  The materials used are latex, rubber paddings and nylon or chamois.  It is used to protect a deformity from pressure.

Lateral Wedge Insoles for Knee Osteoarthritis

In a randomized study, Toda and Tsukimura (2006) evaluated the effect of wearing a lateral wedged insole with a subtalar strap for 2 years in patients with OA varus deformity of the knee (knee OA).  A total of 61 female outpatients with knee OA who completed a prior 6-month study were asked to wear their respective insoles continuously as treatment during the course of the 2-year study.  The femoro-tibial angle (FTA) was assessed by standing radiographs obtained while the subjects were barefoot and the Lequesne index of the knee OA at 2 years was compared with those at baseline in each insole group.  A total of 13 patients (21.3 %) did not want to wear the insole continuously and 5 (8.2 %) withdrew for other reasons.  The 42 remaining patients who completed the 2-year study were evaluated.  At the 2-year assessment, participants wearing the subtalar strapped insole (n = 21) demonstrated significantly decreased FTA (p = 0.015), and significantly improved Lequesne index (p = 0.031) in comparison with their baseline assessments.  These significant differences were not found in the group with the traditional shoe inserted wedged insole (n = 21).  The authors concluded that only those subjects using the subtalar strapped insole demonstrated significant change in the FTA in comparison with the baseline assessments.  If the insole with a subtalar strap maintains FTA for more than 2 years, it may restrict the progression of degenerative articular cartilage lesions of knee OA.

Shimada et al (2006) examined the effects of lateral wedged insoles on knee kinetics and kinematics during walking, according to radiographic severity of medial compartment knee OA.  A total of 46 medial compartment knees with OA of 23 patients with bilateral disease and 38 knees of 19 age-matched healthy subjects as controls were included in this study.  These investigators measured the peak external adduction moment at the knee during the stance phase of gait and the first acceleration peak after heel strike at the lateral side of the femoral condyles.  Kellgren and Lawrence grading system was used for radiographical assessment of OA severity.  The mean value of peak external adduction moment of the knee was higher in OA knees than the control.  Application of lateral wedged insoles significantly reduced the peak external adduction moment in Kellgren-Lawrence grades I and II knee OA patients.  The first acceleration peak value after heel strike in these patients was relatively high compared with the control.  Application of lateral wedged insoles significantly reduced the first acceleration peak in Kellgren-Lawrence grades I and II knee OA patients.  The authors concluded that the kinetic and kinematic effects of wearing of lateral wedged insoles were significant in Kellgren-Lawrence grades I and II knee OA.  The results support the recommendation of use of lateral wedged insoles for patients with early and mild knee OA.

Kuroyanagi et al (2007) compared the use of 2 lateral wedged insoles (one with, and the other without subtalar strapping) in patients with medial knee OA.  A total of 21 patients (aged 58 to 83 years, mean 7of 2) with medial knee OA were enrolled.  Thirty-seven knees in the patients were divided into 3 groups based on the Kellgren and Lawrence OA grading system; grades 2 (n = 20), 3 (n = 11), and 4 (n = 6).  Subjects were tested during walking barefoot and during walking with a silicon rubber lateral wedged insole with elevation of 10 mm attached to a barefoot.  Gait analysis was performed on a 10-m walkway for each subject under 3 different walking conditions:
  1. barefoot,
  2. wearing a conventional insole, and
  3. a subtalar strapping insole. 
Peak knee varus moment during gait was measured under each condition, and compared between the 3 conditions and between the OA grades.  On the whole (n = 37), the peak varus moment was significantly reduced by wearing either of the insoles, compared to walking barefoot.  The reduction was more obvious with the strapping insole (-13 %, p < 0.01), compared with the conventional insole (-8 %, p < 0.05).  In moderate OA patients (grades 2 and 3), the moments were significantly lower with the strapping insole, compared with the conventional insole (p = 0.0048 and 0.005, respectively).  However, no significant difference was detected in severe OA patients (grade 4) between the 2 types of insoles (p = 0.4).  The authors concluded that both lateral wedged insoles significantly reduced the peak medial compartment load during gait.  The subtalar strapping insole had a greater effect than the conventional insole, particularly in patients with moderate medial knee OA.

A guideline on OA of the knee published by the Singapore Ministry of Health (2007) stated that lateral wedge insoles (tilt angle of 8.5 to 11 degrees) should be used to provide pain relief for patients with OA of the knee with medial OA symptoms.

Appendix

Table:Foot Orthitics Details
Pathology Shoe Type Insert Modification (as needed) Comments

Forefoot deformities:

Hallux abducto valgus, hallux varus, hallux rigidus

Standard orthopedic OxfordFootnotes*

Oxford style bootFootnotes**

Depth shoes

Custom molded shoes

Semi-rigid or rigid functional orthosis

Additional accommodative padding as needed

The type of shoe and orthotic must be determined based on the severity of the pathology.

Midfoot deformities:

Charcot foot

Depth shoe

Custom molded

Oxford style bootFootnotes**

Semi-rigid or rigid functional orthosis

Additional accommodative padding as needed

Ankle-foot orthosis or other stabilization and/or immobilization brace

The type of shoe and orthotic must be determined based on the severity of the pathology.

Rearfoot deformities:

a. Symptomatic pronation
b. Symptomatic supination
c. Symptomatic pes cavus
d. Heel pain
(1) Retrocalcaneal
(2) Inferior calcaneal
e. Symptomatic equines
f. Tarsel coalition
g. Ankle instability
h. Charcot foot

Standard orthopedic OxfordFootnotes*

Oxford style bootFootnotes**

Depth shoe

Custom molded

Semi-rigid or rigid functional orthosis

Additional accommodative padding as needed

Ankle-foot orthosis or other stabilization and/or immobilization brace

Heel cup

The type of shoe and orthotic must be determined based on the severity of the pathology.

Diabetic neuropathology with no concomitant deformities

Depth shoe

Over the Counter (OTC)

OTC Accommodation Orthoses

Semi-rigid or rigid functional orthosis

Additional accommodative padding as needed

As a preventive measure, this group of patients should be followed on a regular basis for the development of pathology to ensure quick interventions as needed.

Peripheral vascular disease with non- concomitant deformities (arterial or venous)

Depth shoe

OTC

OTC Accommodation Orthoses

Semi-rigid or rigid functional orthosis

Additional
accommodative padding as needed

As a preventive measure, this group of patients should be followed on a regular basis for the development of pathology.

Digital and midtarsal amputations

Depth shoe

Custom molded

Semi-rigid or rigid functional orthosis

Appropriate Filler

Additional accommodative padding as needed

As a preventive measure, this group of patients should be followed on a regular basis for the development of pathology.

Adapted from VHA, 2004.

Footnotes* Stock shoes include standard therapeutic Oxford dress, casual or walking/exercise shoes.

Footnotes** Certain conditions and circumstances may require the use of boots that add ankle support.

For limitations on medical necessity frequency of replacement of orthotics, see Medi-Cal. Orthotics and prosthetics. Frequency limits on orthotics. Ortho cd fre 1. Provider Manual. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Health Care Services; August 2010. Available at: Provider Manuals. Accessed August 15, 2012.

Table: CPT Codes / HCPCS Codes / ICD-10 Codes
Code Code Description

Information in the [brackets] below has been added for clarification purposes.   Codes requiring a 7th character are represented by "+":

HCPCS codes covered if selection criteria are met:

A5500 - A5507, A5510 - A5514 Diabetic shoes, fitting, and modifications
A9283 Foot pressure off loading/supportive device, any type, each
L3000 - L3031 Foot inserts, removable
L3040 - L3100 Foot arch supports, removable or nonremovable
L3140 - L3170 Foot abduction and rotation bars
L3201 - L3265 Orthopedic footwear (shoes, boots, depth inlays)
L3300 - L3485 Shoe modifications (lifts, wedges, heels)
L3500 - L3649 Miscellaneous shoe additions, transfers, or replacements

HCPCS codes not covered for indications listed in the CPB:

A5508 For diabetics only, deluxe feature of off-the-shelf depth-inlay shoe or custom-molded shoe, per shoe

ICD-10 codes covered if selection criteria are met (not all-inclusive):

C40.30 - C40.32 Malignant neoplasm of short bones of lower limb
C47.20 - C47.22, C49.20 - C49.22 Malignant neoplasm of peripheral nerves and connective and soft tissue of lower limb, including hip
C79.51 - C79.52 Secondary malignant neoplasm of bone and bone marrow
D21.20 - D21.22, D36.13 Benign neoplasm of peripheral nerves and connective and other soft tissue, lower limb, including hip [neuroma]
E08.00 - E08.9 Diabetes mellitus due to underlying condition
E10.21 - E10.29, E11.21 - E11.29, E13.21 - E13.29 Diabetes with kidney complications
E10.40 - E10.49, E11.40 - E11.49, E13.40 - E13.49 Diabetes with neurological complications
E10.51 - E10.59, E11.51 - E11.59, E13.51 - E13.59 Diabetes with circulatory complications
E10.610 - E10.618, E11.610 - E11.618, E13.610 - E13.618 Diabetes with other specified complications
E64.3 Sequelae of rickets
G57.00 - G57.93 Mononeuropathies of lower limb
G60.0 Hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy
G60.1 Refsum's disease
G60.3 Idiopathic progressive neuropathy
G60.8 Other hereditary and idiopathic neuropathies
G61.0 - G61.9 Inflammatory polyneuropathy
G62.0 - G62.9 Other and unspecified polyneuropathies
I70.201 - I70.299 Atherosclerosis of native arteries of the extremities
I73.00 - I73.01 Raynaud's syndrome
I73.1 Thromboangiitis obliterans [Buerger's disease]
I73.81 Erythromelalgia
I73.89 Other specified peripheral vascular diseases (e.g., acrocyanosis, acroparesthesia, erythrocyanosis)
I73.9 Peripheral vascular diseases, unspecified
I74.3 Embolism and thrombosis of arteries of the lower extremities
I75.021 - I75.029 Atheroembolism of lower extremity
I80.00 - I80.03 Phlebitis and thrombophlebitis of superficial vessels of lower extremities
I80.10 - I80.13 Phlebitis and thrombophlebitis of femoral vein [deep and superficial]
I80.201 - I80.299 Phlebitis and thrombophlebitis of other and unspecified deep vessels of lower extremities [e.g., femoropopliteal vein, popliteal vein, tibial vein]
I80.3 Phlebitis and thrombophlebitis of lower extremities, unspecified
I82.401 - I82.409 Acute embolism and thrombosis of unspecified deep veins of lower extremity
I83.001 - I83.029 Varicose veins of lower extremities with ulcer
I83.10 - I83.12 Varicose veins of lower extremities with inflammation
I83.201 - I83.229 Varicose veins of lower extremities with both ulcer and inflammation
I83.891 - I83.899 Varicose veins of lower extremities with other complications
L97.101 - L97.929 Non-pressure chronic ulcer of lower limbs, not elsewhere classified
M10.00 - M10.09 Idiopathic gout
M12.271 - M12.279 Villonodular synovitis (pigmented), ankle and foot
M12.571 - M12.579 Traumatic arthropathy, ankle and foot
M12.871 - M12.879 Other specific arthropathies, not elsewhere classified, ankle and foot [contrature of joint]
M17.0 - M17.12 Primary osteoarthritis of knee
M17.2 - M17.5 Post-traumatic osteoarthritis of knee
M17.9 Osteoarthritis of knee, unspecified
M19.071 - M19.072 Primary osteoarthritis ankle and foot
M19.271 - M19.279 Secondary osteoarthritis, ankle and foot
M19.90 - M19.92 Osteoarthritis, unspecified site [ankle and foot]
M20.10 - M20.12 Hallux valgus (acquired)
M20.20 - M20.22 Hallux rigidus
M20.30 - M20.32 Hallux varus (acquired)
M20.40 - M20.42 Other hammer toe(s) (acquired)
M20.5x1 - M20.5x9 Other deformities of toe(s) (acquired)
M20.60 - M20.62 Acquired deformity of toe(s), unspecified
M21.251 - M21.279 Flexion deformity [hip, knee, ankle and toes]
M21.40 - M21.42 Flat foot [pes planus] (acquired), [covered for children only]
M21.611 - M21.629 Other acquired deformities of foot [pronation covered for children only]
M21.751 - M21.769 Unequal leg length (acquired)
M21.861 - M21.869 Other specified acquired deformities of thigh and lower leg
M24.571 - M24.576 Contracture, ankle and foot
M25.371 - M25.373 Other instability, ankle and foot
M25.771 - M25.776 Osteoophyte, ankle and foot
M65.80 Other synovitis and tenosynovitis, unspecified site
M65.871 - M65.879 Other synovitis and tenosynovitis, ankle and foot
M65.9 Synovitis and tenosynovitis, unspecified
M67.471 - M67.479, M71.371 - M71.379 Ganglion and other bursal cyst [ankle and foot]
M72.2 - M72.4 Plantar fascial and pseudosarcomatous fibromatosis
M76.60 - M76.9, M77.9 Enthesopathy of lower limb, excluding foot
M86.071 - M86.079, M86.171 - M86.179, M86.271 - M86.279, M86.371 - M86.379, M86.471 - M86.479, M86.571 - M86.579, M86.9, M90.871 - M90.879 Osteomyelitis, periostitis, and other infections of ankle and foot
N18.1 - N18.9 Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
Numerous options Other disorders of bone and cartilage [sesamoiditis]
O22.20 - O22.23 Superficial thrombophlebitis in pregnancy
O22.30 - O22.33 Deep phlebothrombosis in pregnancy
O87.1 Deep phlebothrombosis in the puerperium [postpartum]
Q66.3 Other congenital varus deformities of feet
Q66.50 - Q66.52 Congenital pes planus
Q66.6 Other congenital valgus deformities of feet
Q66.80 - Q66.89 Other congenital deformities of feet
Q69.2 Accessory toe(s)
Q70.20 - Q70.23 Fused toes
Q70.30 - Q70.33 Webbed toes
Q74.2 Other congenital malformations of lower limb(s), including pelvic girdle

ICD-10 codes not covered for indications listed in the CPB:

L84 Corns and callosities
M16.0 - M16.12 Osteoarthritis of hip
M16.2 - M16.7 Osteoarthritis, secondary, hip
M16.9 Osteoarthritis of hip, unspecified
M23.00 - M23.92 Internal derangement of knee
M23.8x1 - M23.8x9
M25.261 - M25.269
M25.361 - M25.369
Other internal derangement lower leg
M24.361 - M24.369 Pathological dislocation of knee, not elsewhere classified
M24.461 - M24.469 Recurrent dislocation, knee
M35.7 Hypermobility syndrome
S82.001+ - S82.099+ Fracture of patella
S82.101+ - S82.499+ Fracture of tibia and fibula
S82.51x+ - S82.66+ Fracture medial and lateral malleolus
S82.811+ - S82.92x+ Other fractures of lower leg
S83.101+ - S83.106+ Unspecified subluxation and dislocation of knee
S83.401+ - S83.92x+ Sprains of ligaments of knee
S87.00x+ - S87.82x+
S97.00x+ - S97.82x+
Crushing injury of knee and lower leg, ankle and foot, or toe
S93.01x+ - S93.06x+ Subluxation and dislocation of ankle joint
T24.001+ - T25.799+ Burn and corrosion of lower limb

The above policy is based on the following references:

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA). Prosthetic shoe. Medicare Coverage Issues Manual §70-3. Baltimore, MD: HCFA; 1999.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA). Therapeutic shoes for individuals with diabetes. Medicare Carriers Manual §2134. Baltimore, MD: HCFA; 1999.
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA). Foot care and supportive devices for the feet. Medicare Carriers Manual §2323. Baltimore, MD: HCFA; 1999.
  4. HealthNow, NY, Inc, DMERC Region A. Orthopedic footwear. Medical Policy. Wilkes-Barre, PA : HealthNow; updated August 29, 2001. Available at: http://www.umd.nycpic.com/ch16_prosth-orthopedic.html. Accessed November 16, 2001.
  5. Medicode, Inc. 1999 HCPCS. Medicare's National Level II Codes. Salt Lake City, UT: Medicode; 1998.
  6. Mayfield JA, Rieber GE, Sanders LJ, et al. Preventive foot care in people with diabetes. Technical review. Diabetes Care. 1998;21(12):2161-2177.
  7. American Diabetes Association. Consensus development conference on diabetic foot wound care: 7-8 April 1999, Boston, Massachusetts. Diabetes Care. 1999;22(8):1354-1360.
  8. Levin ME. Foot lesions in patients with diabetes mellitus. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 1996;25(2):447-462.
  9. Slovenkai MP. Foot problems in diabetes. Med Clin North Am. 1998;82(4):949-971.
  10. Pinzur MS, Slovankai MP, Trepman E. Guidelines for diabetic foot care. The Diabetes Committee of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. Foot Ankle Int. 1999;20(11):695-702.
  11. American Diabetes Association. Preventive foot care in people with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2000;23 Suppl 1:S55-S56.
  12. Rubin G, Cohen E. Prostheses and orthoses for the foot and ankle. Clin Podiatr Med Surg. 1988;5(3):695-719.
  13. Lockard MA. Foot orthoses. Phys Ther. 1988;68(12):1866-1873.
  14. Esquenazi A, Leonard JA, Meier RH 3d, et al. Prosthetics, orthotics, and assistive devices. 3. Prosthetics. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1989;70(5-S):S206-S209.
  15. Hicks JE, Leonard JA Jr, Nelson VS, et al. Prosthetics, orthotics, and assistive devices. 4. Orthotic management of selected disorders. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1989;70(5-S):S210-S217.
  16. Mascaro TB, Swanson LE. Rehabilitation of the foot and ankle. Orthop Clin North Am. 1994;25(1):147-160.
  17. Moore JW. Prostheses, orthoses, and shoes for partial foot amputees. Clin Podiatr Med Surg. 1997;14(4):775-783.
  18. Nigg BM, Nurse MA, Stefanyshyn DJ. Shoe inserts and orthotics for sport and physical activities. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999;31(7 Suppl):S421-S428.
  19. Hoffinger SA. Evaluation and management of pediatric foot deformities. Pediatr Clin North Am. 1996;43(5):1091-111.
  20. Yale JF. Yale's Podiatric Medicine. 3rd ed. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins; 1987.
  21. Neal D, Adams IM, eds. Common Foot Disorders: Diagnosis and Management. 2nd ed. Edinburgh, UK: Churchill Livingstone; 1985.
  22. Foot Levelers, Inc. Sports injuries and performance [website]. Foot Levelers; 2001. Available at: http://www.footlevelers.com/sportsinjuries.htm. Accessed May 17, 2002.
  23. Green MF, Aliabadi Z, Green BT. Diabetic foot: Evaluation and management. South Med J. 2002;95(1):95-101.
  24. Ball KA, Afheldt MJ. Evolution of foot orthotics--part 1: Coherent theory or coherent practice? J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2002;25(2):116-124.
  25. Egan M, Brosseau L, Farmer M, et al. Splints and orthosis for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(4):CD004018.
  26. Crawford F, Thomson C. Interventions for treating plantar heel pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2003;(3):CD000416.
  27. Gross MT, Foxworth JL. The role of foot orthoses as an intervention for patellofemoral pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2003;33(11):661-670.
  28. Marks R, Penton L. Are foot orthotics efficacious for treating painful medial compartment knee osteoarthritis? A review of the literature. Int J Clin Pract. 2004;58(1):49-57.
  29. Sahar T, Cohen MJ, Ne'eman V, et al. Insoles for prevention and treatment of back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;(4):CD005275.
  30. Ashford R, Kippen C, Rome K. Interventions for pes planus (Protocol for Cochrane Review). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005;(1):CD005120.
  31. Thomson CE, Gibson JNA, Martin D. Interventions for the treatment of Morton's neuroma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(3):CD003118.
  32. Ferrari J, Higgins JPT, Prior TD. Interventions for treating hallux valgus (abductovalgus) and bunions. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(1):CD000964.
  33. Brouwer RW, Jakma TS, Verhagen AP, et al. Braces and orthoses for treating osteoarthritis of the knee. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005;(1):CD004020.
  34. Powell M, Seid M, Szer IS. Efficacy of custom foot orthotics in improving pain and functional status in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis: A randomized trial. J Rheumatol. 2005;32(5):943-950.
  35. Farrow SJ, Kingsley GH, Scott DL. Interventions for foot disease in rheumatoid arthritis: A systematic review. Arthritis Rheum. 2005;53(4):593-602.
  36. Clark H, Rome K, Plant M, et al. A critical review of foot orthoses in the rheumatoid arthritic foot. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2006;45(2):139-145.
  37. Reilly KA, Barker KL, Shamley D. A systematic review of lateral wedge orthotics--how useful are they in the management of medial compartment osteoarthritis? Knee. 2006;13(3):177-183.
  38. Hijmans JM, Geertzen JH, Dijkstra PU, Postema K. A systematic review of the effects of shoes and other ankle or foot appliances on balance in older people and people with peripheral nervous system disorders. Gait Posture. 2007;25(2):316-323.
  39. Toda Y, Tsukimura N. A 2-year follow-up of a study to compare the efficacy of lateral wedged insoles with subtalar strapping and in-shoe lateral wedged insoles in patients with varus deformity osteoarthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2006;14(3):231-237.
  40. Shimada S, Kobayashi S, Wada M, et al. Effects of disease severity on response to lateral wedged shoe insole for medial compartment knee osteoarthritis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2006;87(11):1436-1441.
  41. Kuroyanagi Y, Nagura T, Matsumoto H, et al. The lateral wedged insole with subtalar strapping significantly reduces dynamic knee load in the medial compartment gait analysis on patients with medial knee osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2007;15(8):932-936.
  42. Singapore Ministry of Health. Osteoarthritis of the knees. Guidelines. Singapore: Singapore Ministry of Health; May 2007.
  43. Burns J, Landorf KB, Ryan MM, et al.  Interventions for the prevention and treatment of pes cavus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;(4):CD006154.
  44. Gélis A, Coudeyre E, Hudry C, et al. Is there an evidence-based efficacy for the use of foot orthotics in knee and hip osteoarthritis? Elaboration of French clinical practice guidelines. Joint Bone Spine. 2008;75(6):714-720.
  45. Hume P, Hopkins W, Rome K, et al. Effectiveness of foot orthoses for treatment and prevention of lower limb injuries : A review. Sports Med. 2008;38(9):759-779.
  46. Vicenzino B, Collins N, Crossley K, et al. Foot orthoses and physiotherapy in the treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome: A randomised clinical trial. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2008;9:27.
  47. Figueiredo EM, Ferreira GB, Maia Moreira RC, et al. Efficacy of ankle-foot orthoses on gait of children with cerebral palsy: Systematic review of literature. Pediatr Phys Ther. 2008;20(3):207-223.
  48. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Foot wear and foot orthoses. Transmittal Sheet. VHA Handbook 1173.9. Washington, DC; VHA; October 6, 2004. Available at: http://www1.va.gov/VHAPUBLICATIONS/ViewPublication.asp?pub_ID=1173. Accessed April 28, 2010.
  49. Shurnas PS. Hallux rigidus: Etiology, biomechanics, and nonoperative treatment. Foot Ankle Clin. 2009;14(1):1-8.
  50. Health Technology Inquiry Service (HTIS). Prefabricated and custom made foot orthotics: A review of the clinical and cost-effectiveness. Health Technology Assessment (HTA). Ottawa, ON: Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH); May 27, 2010.
  51. Morris C, Bowers R, Ross K, et al. Orthotic management of cerebral palsy: Recommendations from a consensus conference. NeuroRehabilitation. 2011;28(1):37-46.
  52. Munuera PV, Mazoteras-Pardo R. Benefits of custom-made foot orthoses in treating patellofemoral pain. Prosthet Orthot Int. 2011;35(4):342-349.
  53. Duerinck S, Swinnen E, Beyl P, et al. The added value of an actuated ankle-foot orthosis to restore normal gait function in patients with spinal cord injury: A systematic review. J Rehabil Med. 2012;44(4):299-309.
  54. Hossain M, Alexander P, Burls A, Jobanputra P. Foot orthoses for patellofemoral pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(1):CD008402.
  55. Walther M, Kratschmer B, Verschl J, et al. Effect of different orthotic concepts as first line treatment of plantar fasciitis. Foot Ankle Surg. 2013;19(2):103-107.
  56. Gabriner ML, Braun BA, Houston MN, Hoch MC. The effectiveness of foot orthotics in improving postural control in individuals with chronic ankle instability: A critically appraised topic. J Sport Rehabil. 2015;24(1):68-71.
  57. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Diabetic foot problems: Prevention and management. London, UK: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE); August 26, 2015.
  58. Papuga MO, Cambron J. Foot orthotics for low back pain: The state of our understanding and recommendations for future research. Foot (Edinb). 2016;26:53-57.
  59. Maughan KL. Ankle sprain. UpToDate [online serial]. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; reviewed February 2016.
  60. Bonanno DR, Landorf KB, Munteanu SE, et al. Effectiveness of foot orthoses and shock-absorbing insoles for the prevention of injury: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2017;51(2):86-96.
  61. Buchbinder R. Plantar fasciitis. UpToDate Inc., Waltham, MA. Last reviewed February 2018.
  62. McDermott P, Wolfe E, Lowry C, et al. Evaluating the immediate effects of wearing foot orthotics in children with joint hypermobility syndrome (JHS) by analysis of temperospatial parameters of gait and dynamic balance: A preliminary study. Gait Posture. 2018;60:61-64.
  63. Whittaker GA, Munteanu SE, Menz HB, et al. Foot orthoses for plantar heel pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018;52(5):322-328.
  64. Rasenberg N, Riel H, Rathleff MS, et al. Efficacy of foot orthoses for the treatment of plantar heel pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Mar 19 [Epub ahead of print].