'Mobility shoes' take a load off for knee osteoarthritis sufferers

April 10, 2013, Wiley

New research suggests that patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) who wear flat, flexible footwear (mobility shoes) had significant reduction in knee loading—the force placed upon the joint during daily activities. Results published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), show that long term use of the mobility shoes helped OA patients adapt their gait, or how they walk, which improved knee loading, even when the mobility shoes were no longer worn.

More than 27 million Americans over the age of 25 have some form of OA, which causes painful swelling and stiffness in the hand, foot, or hip joints, according to the ACR. A 2006 study by Hootman et al. published in & Rheumatism projects that doctor-diagnosed arthritis will swell to 67 million U.S. adults by 2030. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 16% of adults 45 years of age and older are burdened with symptomatic knee OA.

In their previous studies, Dr. Najia Shakoor and colleagues from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois found that walking barefoot as well as with 'mobility ,' which are designed to mimic barefoot mechanics, was linked to reduced knee loading compared to when walking with regular footwear worn by participants. However, the authors thought the long term effects of the specialized footwear needed to be evaluated.

Dr. Najia Shakoor explains, "There is much interest in biomechanical interventions, such as orthotic inserts, knee braces, and footwear that aim to improve pain and delay OA progression by decreasing impact on joints. In the present study, we expand understanding of our earlier research by evaluating the impact of the mobility footwear on gait after six months of use." The team recruited 16 participants with knee OA, obtaining a baseline gait with participants walking in their own shoes, mobility shoes, and barefoot. Participants wore the mobility shoes for six hours each day for six days per week and patient gait was evaluated at 6, 12, and 24 weeks in all conditions.

Findings suggest that by 24 weeks participants wearing mobility footwear saw an 18% reduction in knee adduction moment (KAM)—the load on the inner or medial aspect of the knee when walking (where most people develop knee OA) compared to baseline knee loading in their own footwear. No significant difference in KAM was found between walking with mobility shoes and barefoot. Compared to baseline, analyses indicate an 11% and 10% reduction in KAM for OA patients walking in their own shoes and barefoot, respectively, suggesting the mobility shoes may have "re-trained" participant's gait.

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

Explore further: BMI, post-exercise knee laxity change tied to OA progression

More information: "Improvement in Knee Loading After Use of Specialized Footwear for Knee Osteoarthritis: Results Of A 6-Month Pilot Investigation." Najia Shakoor, Roy H. Lidtke, Markus A. Wimmer, Rachel A. Mikolaitis, Kharma C. Foucher, Laura E. Thorp, Louis F. Fogg and Joel A. Block. Arthritis & Rheumatism; Published Online: April 10, 2013 (DOI: 10.1002/art.37896).

Related Stories

BMI, post-exercise knee laxity change tied to OA progression

August 21, 2012
(HealthDay) -- In patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, changes in knee joint laxity during stair climbing or other repetitive physical activity and baseline body mass index (BMI) are associated with disease progression, ...

Walking speed is a marker for knee osteoarthritis

March 20, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Slower walking speed may be a marker for identifying those at risk for knee osteoarthritis (OA), according to a study published online March 5 in Arthritis Care & Research.

More African-Americans burdened by osteoarthritis in multiple large joints

October 21, 2011
New research suggests African Americans have a higher burden of multiple, large-joint osteoarthritis (OA), and may not be recognized based on the current definition of "generalized OA." African Americans were also more likely ...

Recommended for you

More doctor visits lead to less suicide attempts for fibromyalgia patients

September 19, 2018
Fibromyalgia patients who regularly visit their physicians are much less likely to attempt suicide than those who do not, according to a new Vanderbilt University Medical Center study published in Arthritis Care & Research.

Antioxidant found to be effective in treating mice with osteoarthritis

September 14, 2018
A team of researchers in Belgium and the Netherlands has found that feeding a common antioxidant to test mice was effective in treating osteoarthritis. In their paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the group ...

Researchers find answers as to why some people are at risk of gout

September 12, 2018
University of Otago researchers have helped characterise a genetic variant that enables new understanding of why some people are at risk of gout, a painful and debilitating arthritic disease.

Emotions like anger and sadness may cause pain as well as being a result of it

September 10, 2018
While emotions such as anger or sadness are often thought of as being a result of stress or pain, findings recently published by Penn State researchers suggest that negative or mixed emotions could function as stressors themselves.

Dietary carbohydrates could lead to osteoarthritis, new study finds

August 9, 2018
Do your knees ache? According to new findings from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, your diet could be a culprit.

Joint study raises questions about treatments for arthritis

August 3, 2018
A study examining how molecules are transported into knee-joint tissue could have major implications for understanding and treating arthritis.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.