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Question Is an individualized biomechanical footwear therapy effective for reducing knee pain in people with knee osteoarthritis?
Findings In this randomized clinical trial that included 220 participants with knee pain due to knee osteoarthritis, treatment with an individualized biomechanical footwear therapy compared with control footwear resulted in a lower Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index pain subscore (range, 0-10) after 24 weeks of follow-up (1.3 vs 2.6, respectively), a difference that was statistically significant.
Meaning Although use of biomechanical footwear compared with control footwear resulted in an improvement in knee pain at 24 weeks of follow-up that was statistically significant, the difference was of uncertain clinical importance, and further research is needed to assess long-term efficacy and safety.
Importance Individually calibrated biomechanical footwear therapy may improve pain and physical function in people with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, but the benefits of this therapy are unclear.
Objective To assess the effect of a biomechanical footwear therapy vs control footwear over 24 weeks of follow-up.
Design, Setting, and Participants Randomized clinical trial conducted at a Swiss university hospital. Participants (N = 220) with symptomatic, radiologically confirmed knee osteoarthritis were recruited between April 20, 2015, and January 10, 2017. The last participant visit occurred on August 15, 2017.
Interventions Participants were randomized to biomechanical footwear involving shoes with individually adjustable external convex pods attached to the outsole (n = 111) or to control footwear (n = 109) that had visible outsole pods that were not adjustable and did not create a convex walking surface.
Main Outcomes and Measures The primary outcome was knee pain at 24 weeks of follow-up assessed with the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) pain subscore standardized to range from 0 (no symptoms) to 10 (extreme symptoms). The secondary outcomes included WOMAC physical function and stiffness subscores and the WOMAC global score, all ranging from 0 (no symptoms) to 10 (extreme symptoms) at 24 weeks of follow-up, and serious adverse events.
Results Among the 220 randomized participants (mean age, 65.2 years [SD, 9.3 years]; 104 women [47.3%]), 219 received the allocated treatment and 213 (96.8%) completed follow-up. At 24 weeks of follow-up, the mean standardized WOMAC pain subscore improved from 4.3 to 1.3 in the biomechanical footwear group and from 4.0 to 2.6 in the control footwear group (between-group difference in scores at 24 weeks of follow-up, −1.3 [95% CI, −1.8 to −0.9]; P
Conclusions and Relevance Among participants with knee pain from osteoarthritis, use of biomechanical footwear compared with control footwear resulted in an improvement in pain at 24 weeks of follow-up that was statistically significant but of uncertain clinical importance. Further research would be needed to assess long-term efficacy and safety, as well as replication, before reaching conclusions about the clinical value of this device.
Trial Registration ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02363712