Joint Pain? Relief May Be in Your Shoe

Rush University Medical Center study suggests best shoe for joint pain might be one that's almost no shoe at all

By Nesita Kwan
|  Wednesday, Apr 21, 2010  |  Updated 4:30 PM CDT
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The shoes rheumatologists have been suggesting for years to ease joint pain may be completely off-base, a new study suggests.

The shoes rheumatologists have been suggesting for years to ease joint pain may be completely off-base, a new study suggests.

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Many people are familiar with the aches and pains that come with age, particularly when it comes to joints like their knees. And for years, rheumatologists have suggested that the best shoe for people with knee pain is a cushioned one, with lots of support.

Then a Rush University Medical Center rheumatologist, Dr. Najia Shakoor, started doing research in a high tech motion lab, tracking patients step by step. She had the subjects walk around, wearing different pairs of shoes, as a computer measured the force on their joints.

To her surprise, the shoe that worked best, was almost no shoe at all. It was a specially engineerd piece of footwear that closely mimicked walking barefoot. And some patients even reported that it was helping with their pain.

The work is so promising that now there's a larger study to see if the mobility shoe, as it's called, really works as well as it seems to for people with osteoarthritis. And someday, some patients hope there may even be a shoe that could prevent the disease.

American College of Rheumatology:  Effects of Specialized Footwear on Joint Loads in Osteoarthritis of the Knee

American College of Rheumatology:  Walking Barefoot Decreases Loading on the Lower Extremity Joints

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