Background Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, the principal large joint to be affected, results in disabling knee symptoms in an estimated 10% of people older than 55 years, a quarter of whom are severely disabled. The risk of disability attributable to knee OA alone is as great as that due to cardiac disease and greater than that due to any other medical disorder in the elderly. Treatment of medial compartment knee OA includes footwear modification to realign the weight-bearing load on the knee.
Objective To evaluate the efficacy of full-length laterally wedged shoe inserts as a conservative therapeutic intervention for patients with medial knee osteoarthritis.
Methods Subjects (N = 27) were confirmed by physical exam and radiography to have unilateral or bilateral symptomatic medial compartment knee OA. Subjects were assessed by visual analogue scale (VAS) ratings of the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) Osteoarthritis Index both at baseline and after wearing fitted laterally wedged shoe inserts for 4 weeks.
Results Significant decreases were noted in all three subscales: pain (p = .0377), stiffness (p = .0054), and physical function limitations (p = .0002) as a result of wearing the shoe inserts. Furthermore, a significant decrease in pain specifically in going up or down stairs was observed (p = .0028).
Conclusion Laterally wedged shoe inserts worn for as little as 4 weeks can be an effective first-line intervention in alleviating symptoms associated with medial knee osteoarthritis.