Mobility shoes can help reduce knee pain

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People who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee can reduce significantly the strain on their knees if they wear mobility shoes, according to a study published April 10 in Arthritis and Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

Knee osteoarthritis is the most common form of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that is mainly a deterioration of articular cartilage (the smooth white tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form joints). It affects mostly people older than 40 and brings on pain, stiffness and limited range of motion in the knee.

The chief cause of knee osteoarthritis is wear and tear. Those who have had knee injuries are most likely to develop it, although risk of developing it may be inherited. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are studying whether sex differences at the cellular and molecular levels explain why women are more susceptible than men.

There is no cure, but pain and stiffness can be alleviated by losing weight (every time you gain a pound, you put 3 to 4 pounds of weight on your knees, says Web MD), exercise (strengthening the muscles around the knee makes it more stable and decreases pain), and by medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

And, according to the study conducted chiefly by Najia Shakoor, rheumatologist at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, people can reduce discomfort by wearing mobility shoes -- which are flat, flexible footwear designed to mimic the mechanics of walking barefoot.

After 24 weeks, OA sufferers in her study who wore mobility shoes had an 18 percent reduction in knee adduction moment (the load on the inner aspect of the knee when walking), Dr. Shakoor said. Lowering this force on the knee through retraining a person's way of walking (gait) is also being explored as a noninvasive, nonsurgical method of preventing and slowing down the progression of osteoarthritis in the knee.

health

Jack Kelly: jkelly@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1476.


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