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Flat, Flexible No Better Than Stable, Supportive Shoes for Knee OA

Last Updated: January 12, 2021.

1/12 -- What Shoes Work Best With Arthritic Knees?

TUESDAY, Jan. 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with knee osteoarthritis, flat, flexible shoes are not superior to stable, supportive shoes, according to a study published online Jan. 12 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Kade L. Paterson, Ph.D., from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and colleagues compared flat, flexible shoes to stable, supportive shoes for knee osteoarthritis symptoms. Participants with moderate-to-severe symptomatic radiographic medial knee osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to either flat, flexible or stable, supportive shoes (82 participants in each group) worn for at least six hours a day for six months.

The researchers found no evidence that flat, flexible shoes were superior to stable, supportive shoes in the primary outcomes of changes in walking pain and physical function at six months. There was a between-group difference in change in pain favoring stable, supportive shoes (mean difference, 1.1 units; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.5 to 1.8 units; P = 0.001) but not in function (mean difference, 2.3 units; 95 percent confidence interval, −0.9 to 5.5 units; P = 0.167). Stable, supportive shoes were favored in terms of improvements in knee-related quality of life and ipsilateral hip pain. Compared with stable, supportive shoes, flat, flexible shoes were not superior for any secondary outcomes.

"Stable supportive shoes may be a useful self-management strategy in this subgroup of patients with knee osteoarthritis, supporting clinical practice guideline recommendations that, to date, have been based solely on expert opinion," the authors write.

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