Foot orthoses for flexible flatfeet in children and adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of patient-reported outcomes

L.N.T. Oerlemans, C.M.M. Peeters, R. Munnik-Hagewoud, I.M. Nijholt, A. Witlox, C.C.P.M. Verheyen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Background This systematic review and meta-analysis examined the effectiveness of orthoses for flexible flatfeet in terms of patient-reported outcomes in children and adults. Methods EMBASE, Medline (OvidSP), Web-of-Science, Scopus, CINAHL, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Clinical Trials, i.e., Cochrane Central and Pubmed were searched to identify relevant studies since their inception up to February 2021. We included randomized controlled trials (RCT) and prospective studies in which patient reported outcomes at baseline and follow-up in an orthoses group were compared with a no orthoses or sham sole group. Methodological quality of the studies was assessed using the Revised Cochrane risk-of-bias tool for randomized trials (RoB 2) and the Risk Of Bias In Non-Randomized Studies of Interventions (ROBINS-I). A meta-analysis was performed where there were multiple studies with the same outcome measures, which was the case for the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) for pain in adults. Results In total nine studies were included: four RCT in children (N = 353) and four RCT and one prospective study in adults (N = 268) were included. There was considerable heterogeneity between studies. A meta-analysis demonstrated that pain reduction between baseline and follow-up was significantly larger in the orthoses (N = 167) than in the control groups in adults (N = 157; - 4.76, 95% CI [- 9.46, - 0.06], p0.05). Conclusion Due to heterogeneity in study designs, we cannot conclude that foot orthoses are useful for flexible flatfoot in children and adults. However, based on the meta-analysis orthoses might be useful in decreasing pain in adults. The authors did not receive support from any organization for the submitted work.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2023


  • Foot orthoses
  • Symptomatic flexible flatfeet
  • Children
  • Adults
  • Meta-analysis
  • Systematic review
  • PAIN


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