(HealthDay News) – For patients with knee osteoarthritis, use of flat, flexible footwear (mobility shoes) for six months is associated with significant improvements in knee adduction moment (KAM), according to a study published online April 10 in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Najia Shakoor, MD, from Rush Medical College in Chicago, and colleagues assessed the effect of six months’ use of mobility shoes on knee loading among patients with knee osteoarthritis. Baseline gait analyses were conducted while subjects were walking in their own shoes, mobility shoes, and barefoot. The subjects wore mobility shoes for six hours or more per day, for six days a week, and underwent repeat gait evaluations at six, 12, and 24 weeks.

The researchers found that, by 24 weeks, there was a significant, 18%, decrease in KAM with the mobility shoes, with no significant difference in KAM with the mobility shoes or walking barefoot. Compared with baseline values, by 24 weeks, participants also experienced significant reductions in KAM when walking in their own shoes and barefoot (11% and 10%, respectively).

“This proof-of-principle investigation provides support for the importance of footwear choice in the management of knee osteoarthritis,” the authors write. “It demonstrates significant improvements in knee loading and knee pain with six months use of a flat, flexible mobility shoe. Furthermore, it suggests that footwear can be used as a mechanical device to achieve beneficial adaptations and alteration of gait with chronic use.”

Two of the authors are co-inventors of the shoe in this study; the invention resulted in a patent owned by Rush University Medical Center.

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