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Shoes that help change the way you walk are proven to ease knee osteoarthritis.

You don’t have to sit down in order take a load off.

The results of a study by bone and joint experts at Rush show that patients with knee osteoarthritis who wear mobility shoes have a significant reductionin knee load — the force placed on the joint during everyday activities. The study was published in the May 2013 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

Researchers found that long-term users of the mobility shoes — which are flat, flexible footwear designed to allow feet to function as if walking barefoot — adjusted their gait (the way that they walk), reducing stress on the knee.

After six months of using the shoes, participants’ knee loads were lower than when they started the study — even when they returned to wearing their usual footwear.

“When you have knee osteoarthritis and you wonder what kind of shoes would be best for your knees, you might want to consider a lightweight, flexible shoe instead of overly supportive and cushioned footwear,” says lead study author Najia Shakoor, MD, a rheumatologist at Rush.

Path to Success

The participants’ walking patterns were recorded at the beginning of the study while barefoot, as well as with the mobility shoes and their own footwear. They wore the mobility shoes for six hours a day, six days per week, and were evaluated six, 12 and 24 weeks later. At 24 weeks, participants had an 18 percent reduction in stress on the knee compared to when they wore their usual footwear.

Affects All Walks of Life

Fifty percent of all Americans will develop knee osteoarthritis, the most common form of osteoarthritis (a disease that causes joint cartilage to progressively break down). Mostly affecting people older than 40, knee osteoarthritis causes pain and limited range of motion, and it can severely affect quality of life as it progresses.

Current treatments for knee osteoarthritis include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and naproxen, cortisone injections and physical therapy to help strengthen the area around the joint. When other treatments don’t work, a partial or total joint replacement may be performed.

“As we continue our research, we hope to determine if longer-term use of the mobility shoes slows down the progression of knee osteoarthritis and diminishes pain,” Shakoor says.


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Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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December 2013-January 2014
 

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