Knee arthritis affects both men and women of all socio-economic levels. As adults enter middle age and deal with increasing pain, it can even lead to knee replacement surgery.

Researchers recently studied the gaits of 16 adults who, through x-rays and reported symptoms, were diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knees. The researchers found that special shoes can ease knee pain and slow the progression of knee pain and arthritis. The study was presented in Atlanta this week at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting.

According to  Najia Shakoor, MD; associate professor of medicine at Rush University in Chicago, the “Forces on the knee joint during walking have been shown to be related to pain, severity and progression of knee osteoarthritis, therefore, researchers currently investigate strategies to reduce these forces or loads on the knee joint in hopes of preventing progression of the disease.”

The shoes tested were custom-made for the study. They allowed for natural foot mobility and were designed to support the foot. Researchers used a special camera and a force plate to measure and analyze the participants of the study.

After six months of testing researchers found that through the use of mobility shoes they were able to affect the gaits of the participants, reduce knee load, and change the way that patients with knee pain walk, even after they returned to using conventional shoes.

“This study showed that specialized footwear was beneficial in reducing knee loads substantially over six months,” Shakoor said. “It is also the first study to show that chronic use of a mechanical, knee-load reducing intervention could lead to favorable alterations in the way participants walk – even once the intervention is removed.

The report did not include information on where such shoes could be acquired. Those of us with knee pain would like to know.