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Footwear Trends May be a Shoe-In for Osteoarthritis Pain

Osteoarthritis Pain

The shoes you wear can impact the development of Knee Osteoarthritis and can cause further degeneration if you already suffer from the disease.  Knee Osteoarthritis is the most common form of Osteoarthritis, when the tissues that protect the knee joint wears away.  The breakdown of cartilage and the loss of the synovial fluid that cushions the joints cause a bone-on-bone friction that causes pain and discomfort.  There are many factors that can put you at risk of developing Osteoarthritis of the knee, such as obesity and previous injury.  There are measures you can take to help ward off the disease.  Your choice in shoes can hinder your knee health.  The shoes we wear can contribute to the load of stress we have on our knee joint.

Women have a greater range of shoe styles to pick from.  We have cute heels, platforms, and sexy stilettos.  This may be why women have four times more foot related issues than their male counterparts and are twice as likely to develop Osteoarthritis of the knee.  When we walk in high heels the natural position of the foot is compromised and altered, and additional stress is placed on the front and back of the knee.  Over time, constant high heal wearing can change the shape of the foot and can cause irreversible damage and changes to the knee.  To most of us, this is not new information.  You have probably heard reports on how high heels can cause many health related issues.  But most of us think that stilettos or pencil thin heels are to blame.  Research shows that wide-heel shoes and even moderate-heel shoes pose an equal threat.  Wide-heel shoes create abnormal knee function while walking through a range of motion, 30% higher than walking barefoot.  It is recommended to limit your use of high heels to special occasions or short-term use. 

Flip-flops have become increasingly popular among both men and women.  Flip-flops have moved beyond the plastic styles seen in the past, and are now offered in an array of stylish options.  You may want to think twice before you slip them on.  A study at Auburn University found that flip-flops affect the way we walk, causing us to take shorter steps, and altering our gait.  The toes of the foot do not go through their normal range of motion.  They did not come up as far as they do barefoot and the participants were viewed gripping the shoes with their toes.  Flip-flops, when worn regularly, can cause not only knee issues but ankle, hip, and back problems.  All of which are sites associated with Arthritis. 

Your footwear may hinder your health and you may pay the price for your stylish kicks later.  You can find footwear that offers comfort and style.  You can also find shoes that best help your knee health by following a couple suggestions.

  • Don’t shop for shoes first thing in the morning.  Your feet expand during the day, so what may feel good in the morning hours might be torturous by evening.
  • Have a sales associate measure the length and width of each foot while standing.  If you have one foot that is a different size, purchase the shoes for the larger foot.  You can add inserts to correctly fit the other foot to the bigger shoe. 
  • Walk around the store for a couple of minutes to ensure that they are comfortable on the entire foot.
  • The shoe should be comfortable upon purchase.  Do not purchase a shoe believing that it will feel more comfortable after you “break it in.”
  • Take a pair of your socks or hosiery with you to the store. 
  • Try on multiple makes and models.  Certain brands may work better for you than others.