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

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, knee or hip joints, according to the ACR. A 2006 study by Hootman et al. published in Arthritis & 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 shoes,' 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 footwear choice may be an important consideration in managing knee OA."

This study is published in Arthritis & Rheumatism. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact

Full citation: "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).

URL Upon Publication:

About the Author: To arrange an interview with Dr. Najia Shakoor, please contact Deb Song with Rush University Medical Center at +1 312-942-0588 or

About the Journal

Arthritis & Rheumatism is an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and covers all aspects of inflammatory disease. The American College of Rheumatology ( is the professional organization whose members share a dedication to healing, preventing disability, and curing the more than 100 types of arthritis and related disabling and sometimes fatal disorders of the joints, muscles, and bones. Members include practicing physicians, research scientists, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, psychologists, and social workers. The journal is published by Wiley on behalf of the ACR. For more information, please visit
About Wiley

Wiley is a global provider of content-enabled solutions that improve outcomes in research, education, and professional practice. Our core businesses produce scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, reference works, books, database services, and advertising; professional books, subscription products, certification and training services and online applications; and education content and services including integrated online teaching and learning resources for undergraduate and graduate students and lifelong learners.

Founded in 1807, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (NYSE: JWa, JWb), has been a valued source of information and understanding for more than 200 years, helping people around the world meet their needs and fulfill their aspirations. Wiley and its acquired companies have published the works of more than 450 Nobel laureates in all categories: Literature, Economics, Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, and Peace. Wiley's global headquarters are located in Hoboken, New Jersey, with operations in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Canada, and Australia. The Company's website can be accessed at

Dawn Peters | EurekAlert!
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