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Barefoot Walking, Canes Reduce Load on Knees

More research needed on optimal footwear for medial knee osteoarthritis patients

WEDNESDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with medial knee osteoarthritis, walking barefoot puts less pressure on the knees than walking in shoes, and using a cane also helps lighten the burden, according to study findings published in the May 15 issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

Georgina Kemp, of the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, and colleagues conducted a study of 40 patients with medial knee osteoarthritis. They analyzed the patients' medial knee joint load using three-dimensional gait analysis to measure peak knee adduction. All 40 subjects were tested walking barefoot and in their usual shoes, while 20 were also tested using a cane and walking unaided.

The investigators found that walking barefoot and walking in shoes created a peak knee adduction moment of 3.49 and 3.77, respectively. Using a cane reduced the knee adduction moment from 3.76 to 3.38, an improvement of 10 percent.

"As shoes were observed to increase the adduction moment and it is impractical to recommend that patients with knee osteoarthritis walk barefoot, future research should evaluate which aspects of shoe design contribute to this increase in knee load. The shoe type optimal for knee osteoarthritis with regard to its effects on symptoms and disease progression must be determined," the authors write. "Patients with knee osteoarthritis should be encouraged to consider using a cane on a regular basis."

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