It looks like anyone suffering from osteoarthritis knee pain can go ahead and toss those specialty unloading shoes and throw on a pair of sneakers of their choice, instead.
A paper published in the July 2016 Annals of Internal Medicine reports that wide-soled, comfort unloading shoes typically prescribed to osteoarthritis suffers to help ease knee pain are no better at relieving discomfort and improving knee function than traditional sneakers and walking shoes.
The Study: Different Shoes For Osteoarthritis Knee
Researchers randomly assigned 164 study participants diagnosed with medical knee osteoarthritis a new pair of walking shoes: either special footwear designed with “triple-density, variable-stiffness midsoles and mild lateral-wedge insoles designed to unload the medial knee,” or a conventional pair of walking shoes. After six months, both shoe groups reported clinical improvement in knee pain and functionality — regardless of which pair of shoes they had been assigned.
However, it’s still a good idea to speak with your doctor before swapping out your special unloading shoes with a conventional pair of walking shoes; the study did not evaluate the effects of the shoes on knee joint structure, meaning traditional shoes may not help everyone with knee osteoarthritis put their best foot forward.