Recent research reveals that arthritic knee pain can be mitigated with one simple and effective move: switching to flat shoes.
Search for the best shoes
People suffering from knee arthritis will be pleased to know that they can achieve pain relief simply by reconsidering their footwear. Flip-flops and flat walking shoes deliver less pressure to the knees than stability shoes and clogs do, according to a 2010 study from Rush University.
Prior analyses had demonstrated that going barefoot limits the force on the knees. Internist and chief researcher Najia Shakoor, MD, decided to expand where the barefoot research left off by determining the best shoes for joint stress reduction.
Dr. Shakoor said that she was shocked by the study’s findings and what it means for advising those suffering from arthritis. “The shoes that we intuitively recommend to our patients… and thought might be best -- stability shoes and clogs -- were associated with the highest load,” she says.
What is knee arthritis?
Knee arthritis is a common cause of chronic pain and disability. Arthritis refers to joint inflammation conditions, the most prevalent of which is osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative joint disease – deterioration of the joint cartilage resulting from everyday wear and tear.
More than 26 million Americans suffer from OA, which is the #1 reason that people become disabled long-term, note University of Minnesota researchers Karen Lawson, MD, and Archelle Georgiou, MD. OA hinders flexibility and smooth operation of joints, results in lost strength, and leads to ligament laxity (loosening) near the joint.
Flat & flexible: traits to embrace
The Rush University research team wanted to find out what type of footwear was best for people suffering from knee pain. They assessed more than 30 adults with knee arthritis, measuring the impact while they walked in:
· Running shoes designed for stability.
For the four different walking situations, the researchers calculated the knee adduction moment – a standardized way to determine the amount of impact on the knee during walking.
The researchers found that when the study participants wore flip-flops or flat walking shoes, they experienced similar force to their knees as when barefoot. However, when stability shoes and clogs were used, the load increased 15%.
Shakoor was not the only one scratching her head at the results. “This finding… came as absolutely a surprise to me," says Baylor College of Medicine Professor Jeffrey A. Ross, MD. “I would have expected the running shoe to be the best, but it didn't turn out to be," he says.
Holistic pain relief
Are you suffering from the excruciating pain of knee osteoarthritis? Adjusting your footwear is just one pain-relief tactic. At Envista Medical, we work with you to develop a holistic plan that uses nonsurgical methods for pain treatment. Learn more.