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Researchers Report Wearing Certain Shoes Help with Knee Osteoarthritis

Update Date: Oct 11, 2013 03:25 PM EDT

For people who suffer from knee osteoarthritis, a new study is reporting that wearing certain types of shoes can greatly help with mobility. This new report done by bone and joint experts from Rush University Medical Center found that patients would benefit the most if they wore flat, flexible footwear. According to the researchers, these types of shoes provide maximum mobility and could help reduce the pressure placed on the knees.

"There is much interest in biomechanical interventions, such as orthotic inserts, knee braces, and footwear that aim to improve pain and delay OA (osteoarthritis) progression by decreasing impact on joints," said the lead investigator, Dr. Najia Shakoor, a rheumatologist professor from Rush. "In the present study, we expand our understanding of our earlier research by evaluating the impact of the mobility footwear on gait after six months of use."

Shakoor and colleagues recruited 16 patients with OA. The researchers first measured the participants' baseline gait when they walked in their own shoes, in the mobility shoes and barefoot. The participants were then given the mobility shoes to wear for six hours every day, six days each week. The team then measured their gaits in all three conditions once again at six, 12 and 24 weeks.

By week 24, the researchers found that patients who wore the mobility shoes experienced an 18 percent reduction in knee adduction moment (KAM), which meant that less pressure was placed on the knees. The research team then compared the pressure the patients placed on their knees when they walked in the mobility shoes and barefoot after 24 weeks of training with the special shoes. They found no difference in KAM between the two different walking conditions, which suggested that the mobility shoes helped improve the patients' overall gaits. 

When the researchers compared the before and after gaits of people walking in their own shoes, they calculated an 11 percent reduction in KAM. There was a 10 percent reduction in KAM when the researchers compared the baseline gait to the gait at week 24 for the barefoot condition. The researchers believe that the mobility shoes were somehow capable of retraining the patients' gaits after 24 weeks. The mobility shoes helped the patients walk better and put less pressure on their knees in all three conditions.

"Patients with OA who use flat, flexible footwear may experience a significant reduction in knee loading with continued use," Shakoor said. "Our investigation provides evidence that footwear choice may be an important considering in managing knee OA."

The study was published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal from the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).

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